CHRIST IN CREATION
AUGUSTUS HOPKINS STRONG
PRESIDENT AND PROFESSOR OF BIBLICAL THEOLOGY IN THE
ROCHESTER THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY
AUTHOR OF " SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY," " PHILOSOPHY AND RELIGION,"
AND "THE GREAT POETS AND THEIR THEOLOGY"
THE GRIFFITH & ROWLAND PRESS
BOSTON CHICAGO ATLANTA
NEW YORK ST. LOUIS DALLAS
THE tendency of modern thought in all it's departments, whether physics, literature, theology, or philosophy, is to monism. Let me give one illustration from physics, a second from literature, a third from theology, and a fourth from philosophy.
In the first of these fields it would be east to cite the distinguished Englishman, the late John Tyndall. I prefer to quote a representative close at hand. A recent utterance of Dr. Thomas C. Chamberlin, dean of the College of Science of the new University of Chicago furnishes me with a clear statement of the monistic tendency in physics. `` It is not sufficient," he says, "to the modern scientific thought, to think of a ruler outside of the universe, nor of a universe with the ruler outside. A supreme Being who does not embrace all the activities and possibilities and potencies of the universe seems something less than the supremest Being; and a universe with the ruler outside seems something less than a universe. And therefore the thought is growing in the minds of scientific thinkers that the supreme Being is the universal Being, embracing and comprehending all things." Here is monism, apparently a monism without transcendence, a monism which sees no God before, beside, and above the universe.
Doctor Chamberlin has no intention of espousing
the cause of pantheism; he simply presses the idea of a universe to what he conceives to bc its logical conclusion, maintaining, at the same time, as we may believe, the distinction between divine and human personality, and the independence and responsibility of man. He not only concedes, but claims, that man has liberty of choice. Now we readily grant that the transcendence of God does not imply God's existence in space outside the universe that would be to imagine a second universe which contained the first. But we do feel compelled to maintain that the universe does not exhaust God nor constitute a complete manifestation of him. "Lo! these are but parts of his ways; but a whisper is heard of him; the thunder of his power, who can understand?"
It is important to defend the doctrine of the divine immanence; for "we are also his offspring "; "he is not far from each of us "; "in him we live and move and are." This truth Doctor Chamberlin asserts. We could wish that he had supplemented his utterance with another, which would give scientific expression to the Scripture teaching, that "the heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain" God, and that, while God is ``in all things" and "through all things," he is also "above all things."
In the field of literature I might take John Milton for my illustration. But there is a more modern instance. Robert Browning is a monist. He holds that there is but one substance or principle of being. All things are potentially spirit; or, in other words, the universe is a universe of spirits. Nature herself is instinct with life, and all things are the manifestation of a divine idea and plan. In his strange
poem entitled "Hohenstiel-Schwangau," he declares:
This is the glory that, in all conceived
Or felt, or known, I recognize a Mind
Not mine, but like mine-for the double joy
Making all things for me, and me for him.
He does not hesitate to include man, as well as nature, in this monistic view of the universe. Man too is, in the deep basis of his being, connected with God. Humanity is naturally rooted and grounded in him "from whom, and through whom, and to whom, are all things." In "The Ring and the Book " the Pope soliloquizes:
O Thou, as represented to me here
In such conception as my soul allows-
Under thy measureless, my atom width !
Man's mind, what is it but a convex glass,
Wherein are gathered all the scattered points
Picked out of the immensity of sky,
To reunite there, be our heaven for earth,
Our known unknown, our God revealed to man ?
Professor Jones, of Wales, has given us the best exposition of Robert Browning's philosophy. He says that "while Browning insists on this identity of the human spirit with God, and declares all the phenomena of the world to be manifestations of love, he does not forget that the identity is not absolute. Absolute identity would be pantheism, which leaves God lonely and loveless, and extinguishes man, as well as his morality. In his poem entitled 'Death in the Desert,' we read:
Man is not Cod, but hath God's end to serve,
A master to obey, a course to take,
Somewhat to cast off,
somewhat to become.
"The unity of the divine and the human within the spiritual life of man is a real unity, just because man its free; the identity manifests itself through the difference, and the difference is possible through the unity."
To this statement of Professor Jones, I may add that Browning does not attempt to explain how unity of substance between God and man is consistent with freedom, sin, and guilt in the finite creature. Yet he believes in these last as firmly as in the first. He tells us in his "Christmas Eve" that it was God's plan to make man in his image:
To create man, and then leave him
Able, his own word saith, to grieve him;
But able to glorify him too,
As a mere machine could never do
That prayed or praised, all unaware
Of its fitness for aught but praise or prayer,
Made perfect as a thing of course.
And in his "Legend of Pornic" he speaks of
The faith that launched point blank her dart
At the head of a lie, taught original sin,
The corruption of man's heart.
In other words, the poet is a monist, but an Ethical Monist; a believer that God and man are of one substance; but a hater of pantheism, which denies God's transcendence and separate personality.
Jacob Boehme, the mystic, was a monist. But since it is my purpose to illustrate only the more
recent tendency to monism, let me cite a great name in modern theology. Dorner declares1 that "the unity of essence in God and man is the great discovery of the present age . . . The characteristic feature of all recent Christologies is the endeavor to point out the essential unity of the divine and human . . . To the theology of the present day the divine and human are not mutually exclusive, but are connected magnitudes." And yet Dorner is no pantheist, for he also declares that "faith postulates a difference between the world and God, between whom religion seeks a union. Faith does not wish to be a mere relation to itself, or to its own representations and thoughts. That would be a monologue; faith desires a dialogue. Therefore it does not consort with a monism which recognizes only God, or only the world; it opposes such monism as this. Duality is, in fact, a condition of true and vital unity. But duality is not dualism. It has no desire to oppose the rational demand for unity." It is this "rational demand for unity," as Dorner calls it, which constitutes the inner impulse of science. The modern doctrine of evolution is an attempt to meet this demand. But evolution is irrational, and gives no guarantee of useful progress in the history of life, unless it is the method of an intelligence and will, not only immanent in the system, but also transcendent, and continually importing into the system new increments of energy. Christ, the wisdom and the power of God, is the principle of evolution, as he is the principle of gravitation and of induction.
The monistic tendency of our day is essentially a philosophical tendency. No thinker of recent times
1 History of the Doctrine of the Person of Christ, Vol. II., 3 :101, 231.
has had greater influence in this direction than has Lotze. He is both monist and objective idealist. Yet he holds with equal tenacity to the distinction between the divine personality and the human personality, and declares that `` where two hypotheses are equally possible, the one agreeing with our moral needs and the other conflicting with them, nothing must induce us to favor the latter." He intends his monism to be an Ethical Monism, by which I mean simply a monism that conserves the ethical interests of mankind.
It is not too much to say that the monistic philosophy, in its various forms, holds at present almost undisputed sway in our American universities. Harvard and Yale, Brown and Cornell, Princeton and Rochester, Toronto and Ann Arbor, Boston and Chicago, are all teaching it. As my single illustration, I take Professor Ladd, of New Haven. In his "Introduction to Philosophy," recently published, he tells us that:
"Dualism is yielding, in history and in the judgment-halls of reason, to a monistic philosophy. . . Some form of philosophical monism is indicated by the researches of psychophysics, and by that philosophy of mind which builds upon the principles ascertained by these researches. Realities correlated as are the body and the mind must have, as it were, a common ground. . . They have their reality in the ultimate one reality; they have their interrelated lives as expressions of the one life which is immanent in the two. . . Only some form of monism that shall satisfy the facts and truths to which both realism and idealism appeal can occupy the place of the true and final philosophy." Yet Professor Ladd says most truly that "monism must so construct its tenets as to preserve, or at least as not to contradict and destroy, the truths implicated in the distinction . . . between the me and the not me . . . between the morally good and the morally evil. . . No form of monism can persistently maintain itself,
which erects its system upon the ruins of fundamental ethical principles and ideas.”
is of great importance, both to the preacher and to the Christian, to hold the
right attitude toward the ruling idea or our time. This universal tendency
toward monism, is it a wave of unbelief set agoing by an evil intelligence in
order to overwhelm and swamp the religion of Christ? Or is it a might movement
of the Spirit of God, giving to thoughtful men, all unconsciously to themselves,
a deeper understanding of truth and preparing the w ay for the
reconciliation of diverse creeds and parties by disclosing their hidden
ground of unity? I confess that I have come to believe the latter alternative to
be possibly, and even probably, the correct one, and am inclined to welcome the
new philosophy as a most valuable helper in interpreting the word and works of
God. Monism is, without much doubt, the philosophy of the future, and the only
question would seem to be whether it shall be an ethical and Christian, or a
non-ethical and anti-Christian monism.
we refuse to recognize this new movement of thought and to capture it for
Christ, we may find that materialism and pantheism perversely launch their craft
upon the tide and compel it to further their progress. Let us tentatively accept
the monistic principle and give to it a Christian interpretation. Let us use the
new light that is given us, as a means of penetrating more deeply into the
meaning of Scripture. Let us see in this forward march of thought a sigh that
Christ and his kingdom are conquering and to conquer.
seems al the more necessary to take this position, because there are forms of
monism which do not conserve man’s ethical interests, but on the other hand
sacrifice man’s freedom and God’s transcendence in the effort to secure
scientific unity. I gladly recognize in certain of President Schurman’s
writings an intent to stand for man’s power of initiative and to deny that the
spirit is determined in all its manifestations as the body is determined. In his
“Buffalo Address” he says well that absolute determinism In his “Buffalo
Address” he says well that absolute determinism leaves no room for ideals in
life and renders moral law unintelligible. As between the hypothesis that our
minds are mere automata and the hypothesis that, as minds or spirits, we are
actually creators, he chooses the latter and declares that “it is either that
or a theory of our own capacity and spiritual endowments which renders moral
activity, moral initiative, impossible.”
in his “Andover Lectures,”1 Doctor Schurman states his monistic
doctrine in such a way as virtually to exclude both divine and human freedom:
“The divine will can express itself only as it does, because no other
expression would reveal what it is. Of such a will the universe is the eternal
expression.2 . . Of this illimitable, ever-existing universe, God is
the inner ground and substance. Tehre is no evidence, neither does any religious
need require us to believe, that the divine Being manifest in the universe has
any actual or possible existence somewhere else in some transcendent sphere.”3
if God is only immanent and not transcendent, with no freedom, with no powers
which are not actually
“Belief in God,” p. 26.
2 Ibid., p. 178.
3 Ibid.,d pp. 173, 175
in the universe, and if all the activities of finite beings are to be referred
to God as their source, what room is left for freedom or responsibility or sin
or guilt in men ? Sin becomes a necessity, an indispensable condition of
virtue, a manifestation of God. Though Doctor Schurman has nobly said in one
place, "The possibility of sin is the correlative of the free initiative
God has vacated on man's behalf," and "the essence of sin is the
enthronement of self,"1 he yet, in another place, seems to take
back all he has given, when he says of sin: "Without such self-absorption
there could be no sense of union with God. For consciousness is possible only
through opposition. To know A, we must know it through not-A. Alienation from
God is the necessary condition of communion with God. And this is the meaning of
the Scripture that "where sin
abounds, grace shall much more abound."2
monism as this does not seem to be ethical It gives us a God without moral
character, and Doctor Schurman has well remarked that "a God without moral
character is no God at all."3 It regards God as exhaustively
expressed in the universe; nothing could be but what is. It is difficult to see
how anything can be in the future but what now is; in other words, how evolution
itself can be possible. And if there be no transcendent element in God, how can
there be any transcendent element in man? how can man possibly be different from
what he is ? how can his sin be anything more than the necessary product of
nature and environment ? Monism will be the philosopl1y of the future, but it
will be monism of another sort, a monism
Belief in God, p. 254.
pp. 332, 333. 3 Ibid p. 23,
which makes sin and Christ the Saviour from sin starting points and fundamentals of the system, instead of virtually explaining both of these away.
Ethical Monism is a monism which maintains both the freedom of man and the transcendence of God. I have endeavored to distinguish my doctrine from a form of monism which fails to conserve these ethical interests. I must notice another recent work in which the ethical element is seriously lacking. President Hill, in his Genetic Philosophy, a book charming in its merely literary quality and abounding in valuable suggestion to the monistic thinker, has also erred, as it seems to me, by substantially conceding the truth of the deterministic scheme. "Biological and psychological science," he asserts, `` unite in affirming that every event, organic or psychic, is to be explained in the terms of its immediate antecedents and that it can be so explained. There is, therefore, no necessity, there is even no room, for interference. If the existence of a Deity depends upon the evidence of intervention and supernatural agency, faith in the divine seems to be destroyed in the scientific mind.'' This is apparently an explicit denial of free-will in either God or man. I know well that Doctor Hill would still assert his belief in the existence of sin and in the provision of a redemption from it. Yet I must regard his principles as logically excluding such belief and as tending to extirpate it. Determinism, in my judgment, blunts the sense of responsibility and thus obscures the need of atonement, as it blunts the sense of freedom in man and God and thus obscures the possibility of atone
1 Genetic Philosophy, p. 334.
ment. Sin and salvation are both
lost sight of. Neither the fall nor the guilt of the fall is any longer
intelligible; neither incarnation nor resurrection is any longer credible.
Still another defect in the
“Genetic Philosophy” must be noted. It virtually denies that God is pure
spirit, and regards matter as essentially and eternally a part of his being. God
is not only reason, but he is dynamic reason. He not only thinks, but his
thought necessarily expresses itself in outward form. There can be no such thing
in God as mere plan; execution and plan must be simultaneous. The universe never
had a beginning; it has always been the living garment of the Deity. The
physical has ever the physical for its counterpart. Man, like God, can exist
only so long as some organism exists as the condition and vehicle of his
Attractive as this view must be to
many minds, from the fact that it rides us of the mystery of absolute creation,
I must regard it as both unscientific and unscriptural. If man can plan without
immediately executing his plan, cannot God do as much? The “Genetic
Philosophy” makes no distinction between will and energy, but we know from
personal experience that the former does not necessarily involve the latter. The
poet and the artist have noble conceptions, but the conceptions must be put into
outward form before the work of creation is complete. So the Scripture
attributes to God not only a plan which antedates creation, but also an
independence of material conditions. If the phrase “God is spirit” means
anything, it surely means this.
The phrases “before the world was,”
“before the foundation of the world,” imply that the universe had a
beginning, and the declaration that God and Christ were “before all things”
implies that “things” are not a part of God or necessary to God. To make god
dependent upon his universe is to ignore the Trinity, to deny that God is
sovereign and self-sufficient, and to put the finite world in place of the
The doctrine in question
misrepresents man as well as God. Man, according to this theory, can exist only
so long as he has body. An intermediate state between death and resurrection, in
which man is conscious, though divested of body, is plainly impossible. Yet such
a state seems plainly taught in Scripture. Held in connection with the
determinism previously mentioned, the view of Doctor Hill, by denying the
priority of mind and claiming that mater and mind are inseparable and equally
eternal, plays into the hands of materialism and greatly resembles the teaching
of the Sadducees that “there is no resurrection, neither angel nor spirit.”
To all of these errors I am persuaded that we have the sufficient antidote only
in the Scripture doctrine of creation. The logical alternative of creation is a
system of pantheism, in which man has no more freedom than the brute, and God is
only an impersonal and necessary force.
The Ethical Monism, then, for
which I contend, is not deterministic monism; it is the monism of free-will, the
monism in which personality, both human and divine, sin an righteousness, God
and the world, remain – two in one and one in
two – with their antagonisms as well as their ideal unity. But when I
speak of ideal unity
I do not mean to favor idealism any more than I favor materialism. Let me explain by alluding to one of the greatest of idealists. Berkeley held that the physical universe exists only ideally; it consists of the ideas of God, made permanent and visible by the divine will; only spirits-the human spirit and the divine spirit-have substantial existence. But the modern doctrine of evolution renders this idealism no longer tenable. The rock, the vegetable, the brute, all shade into one another by imperceptible gradations, and even man is acknowledged to have developed from lower orders of being. If the lower orders have only ideal existence, then man can have only ideal existence. The whole universe, including man, must be ideal if any of it is. We cannot draw the line that Berkeley drew, between man and the brute, calling the one matter and the other spirit. And since we cannot deny that man is spirit, and has substantial existence, we must affirm that nature is spirit, and has substantial existence also.
Our system, then, is neither idealistic nor materialistic. It holds that both nature and man are manifestations of God's life. We have no difficulty in accepting the Scripture teaching with regard to the self-limitation of the Logos in becoming man. We believe in such a depotentiation of the divine, that the Son of God could become ignorant and weak in the cradle of Bethlehem; but we have now to learn that this depotentiation in becoming man was not the first to which the Logos had submitted. There was a self-limitation also when humanity was originally created in him; since he is the only life of humanity, the race began to be, and it continued to be, only by virtue of a kenosis of the Logos
which antedated his incarnation. Nay, wc must carry our principle yet farther back. Since all things were made in him, it is his life which pervades even the physical universe, and matter itself is only the manifestation of that life in generic volitions and regular ways. As the Gospel according to John (1: 3) expresses it: "Whatsoever came into being was life in him." Nature
is spiritual because it owes its origin to Christ, is upheld by his power, expresses at every moment his mind and will, is itself his life in a lower form. Christ, the one and only revealer of God, can reveal God only by
humbling himself, and the original creation of the heavens and the earth involved a depotentiation of the Logos which already prefigured the greater depotentiation of the cross.
"But why concede the truth of any monistic theory whatever ? " says one; "' first give me proof ! "I grant the justice of the demand. The new philosophy must approve itself to reason, conscience, Scripture, before it has earned a right to supplant the old. Let us understand, however, what sort of proof in such a case is possible. Demonstration, whether mathematical or logical, is out of the question. The only proof which the nature of the subject admits is inductive. Modern astronomy supplanted the ancient by showing that the heliocentric theory gave a simpler and more complete explanation of the movements of the solar system than the geocentric did. So the monistic philosophy rests its claim to acceptance upon its ability to solve the problems of nature, of the soul, and of the Bible, more simply and completely than the theory of dualisn1 ever could. The test of truth in a theory-as in the case
of the nebular hypothesis or the atomic theory in chemistry-is not that it can be itself explained, but that it is capable of explaining other things. In the preceding chapter on `' Christ in Creation," I have made it plain, I think, that a Christian monism furnishes us with the best solution of the interactions of the physical and the intellectual universe. Does it explain the facts of the moral universe also? This is the question of questions.
How can there be any finite personality or freedom or responsibility, if all persons, as well as all things, are but forms or modifications of the divine? How can we be monists, and yet be faithful to man's ethical interests? Neither Browning nor Dorner helps us here. They only set the two truths, monism and morals, side by side, without showing the nexus between them. But I venture to suggest that the answer to this problem also is found in Christ. He is of the substance of God, yet he possesses a distinct personality. If in the one substance of God there are three infinite personalities, why may there not be in that same substance multitudinous infinite personalities? No believer in the Trinity can consistently deny the possibility of this. And if Christ is the principle of manifestation, outgoing, creation, in God, then it follows that humanity, as well as nature, is among the `` all things " which `` consist," or hold together ``in him." In the one infinite Son of God there are many finite sons of God. "Behold I and the children whom thou hast given me," he can say to the Father. We are naturally children of God, because we were created in Christ; we become spiritually sons of God when we are recreated in Christ.
Professor Wundt, of Leipzig, and more recently Professor Baldwin, of Princeton,1 have intimated that the integration of finite consciousnesses in an all-embracing divine consciousness may find a valid analogy in the integration of subordinate consciousnesses in the unit-personality of man. In the hypnotic state, multiple consciousnesses may be induced in the same nervous organism. In insanity there is a secondary consciousness at war with that which normally dominates. If consciousness is present in the elements of the nervous tissue apart from the unit consciousness of the organism as a whole, it need not seem so strange that in the one all-including divine consciousness there should be finite consciousnesses quite unaware of their relation to the whole, and even antagonistic to it. If matter, moreover, be merely the expression of spirit, then the body, as an object of consciousness, may well be only the reverse side of what we call the consciousness of the object. Since the all-including consciousness is that of Christ, our very bodies may be manifestations of the thought and purpose of Christ.
Hegel was very far wrong when he identified being with thought, and held that thought thinks. Spinoza was nearer right when he called both thought and extension opposite manifestations of being or substance. But Spinoza was wrong in putting extension on the same level with thought, and regarding it as equally primary and necessary. Both Hegel and Spinoza ignored the element of will, and denied freedom. Hegel recognized development, while Spinoza had no place for it in his system. The truth may be better stated as
1 Handbook of Psychology, Feeling, and Will," pp. 53, 54.
follows: Being has, not is, thought and volition; and will may, not must, initiate a finite universe of which extension is an attribute. The universe is not necessary, but free; it is the manifestation of an infinite mind and will; it may be traced back to a beginning; creation is a conception not only scientific, but indispensable; development, or evolution, is the product of free intelligence. Instead of being agnostics, we are bound to see God in everything; instead of finding no design in the universe, it is more true to say that there is nothing but design. We think truly, only as we enter into the thought of God; even as we will truly, only by entering into the will of God.
I have identified this thought and will of God with Christ, and have said that since his is the all-including consciousness, our very bodies are manifestations of his thought and purpose. Christ dwells naturally in every man's physical frame, and in sinning against our own bodies we are actually crucifying Christ and putting him to an open shame. Our souls are habitations of Christ also. He is the source and upholder of all intelligence and of all morality-"the light that lighteth every man." All literature, all history, all civilization, all religion, so far as they are true, salutary, progressive, are movements of his wisdom and power; for in him alone is life, and that life is the only light of men. To put the central thought in the words of Goschel:1 "Christ is humanity; we have it; he is it entirely; we participate therein. His personality precedes and lies at the basis of the personality of the race and its individuals.
1Quoted in Dorner's History of the Doctrine of the Person of Christ, 5:170.
As idea, he is implanted in the whole of humanity; he lies at thc basis of every human consciousness, without, however, attaining realization in any individual [except the incarnate Redeemer], for this is only possible in the entire race at the end of the times."
I am well aware that the test of this doctrine must be its ability to explain the fact of sin. How can that which is of the substance of God ever become morally evil? Our only answer is: It was not morally evil at the first. God has limited and circumscribed himself in giving life to finite personalities within the bounds of his own being, and it is not the fact of si1' that constitutes the primary difficulty, but the fact of finite personality. When God breathed into man's nostrils the breath of his own life, he communicated freedom, and made possible the creature's self-chosen alienation from himself, the giver of that life. While man could never break the natural bond which united him to God, he could break the spiritual bond, and could introduce even into the life of God a principle of discord and evil. Tie a cord tightly about your finger; you partially isolate the finger, diminish its nutrition, bring about atrophy and disease. Yet the life of the whole system rouses itself to put away the evil, to untie the cord, to free the diseased and suffering member. The illustration is far from adequate, but it helps at a similar point. There has been given to each intelligent and moral agent the power, spiritually, to isolate himself from God while yet he is naturally joined to God, and is wholly dependent upon God for the removal of the sin which has so separated him from his Maker. Sin is the act of the creature, but salvation is the act of the Creator. To
permit finite creatures to sin is God's ineffable act of self-limitation.
It is an amazing thing that God could so humble himself as to create finite spirits capable of thwarting the purpose of their being and at the same time of outraging his holiness. But here too, we find the explanation in Christ. He was "the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world." The decree of redemption is as old as the decree of the apostasy. The provision of salvation in Christ shows at how great a cost to God the fall of the race was permitted. He who ordained sin ordained also the atonement for sin and a way of escape from it. With Doctor Shedd we may say "The permission of sin has cost God more than it has cost man. No sacrifice and suffering on account of sin has been undergone by any man, equal to that which has been endured by an incarnate God. This shows that God has not acted selfishly in permitting it." But now I wish to add what has not been clearly perceived in theology hitherto, that Christ's atonement is no made merely when he becomes incarnate and dies upon the cross. The outward and visible union with humanity which brings him to his sacrificial death is only the culmination and manifestation of a previous union with humanity which was constituted by creation, and which, from the moment of man's first sin , brought suffereing to the Son of God.
Can the finger be even temporarily and relatively isolated from the human body and yet the body be free from pain? Must not the whole organism suffer when the finger stops the free flowing into it of the currents of life? Humanity is bout to Christ, as the finger to
the body. Christ has been in natural union with humanity from the very beginning of man's existence. Since human nature is one of the "all things" that "consist," or hold together, in Christ's own body, and the self-perversion of a part of Christ's own body, and the whole must suffer in the self-inflicted injury of the part.
If God is holy and sin is ill-deserving, then sin on the part of finite creatures must be visited with penalty. The view of Horace Bushnell that Christ suffers in and with his creatures out of merely sympathetic love, ignores the real reason and ground of suffering in God's moral antagonism to unrighteousness. But if God's nature binds him to punish sin, then he who joins himself to the sinner must share the sinner's punishment. Much more must he who is the very life of humanity take upon his own heart the burden of shame and penalty that belongs to his members. In the work of Prof. D.W. Simon, of Bradford,1 I find so excellent a statement of this point that I quote it here:
If the Logos is generally the Mediator of the divine immanence in creation, especially in man; if men are differentiations of the effluent divine energy; and if the Logos is the immanent controlling principle of all differentiation, -- i.e., the principle of all form, -- must not the self-perversion of these human differentiations react on him who is their constitutive principle?
This is also the view of Dr. R.W. Dale, in his well-known work on "The Atonement." He too holds that Christ is responsible for human sin, because, as the upholder and life of all, he is naturally one with all men. As God's righteousness compels him to inflict punish
ment, so Christ's union with all men by creation compels him to bear it. "It must needs be that Christ should suffer," for only thus could "God himself be just and the justifier of him that hath faith in Jesus."
Ethical Monism throws light upon the method of Christ's atonement. To make plain my meaning, I am tempted to quote what I have said in another connection' with regard to Christ, as both divine and human, both eternal and manifested in time:
Christ is the Word of God, the divine Reason in expression. All outgoing, communication, manifestation of the Godhead, is the work of Christ. God never thought anything, said anything, did anything, except through Christ. Christ is the creator of all and the sustainer of all. He `' upholds all things by the word of his power." In him all things ``consist," or hold together. Nature with its powers and laws, exists and moves only because Christ's energy throbs through it all . . . As this Logos, or Word of God is the originating and animating principle of nature, so man lives and moves and has his being in him. Humanity, physically and mentally, is created in Christ before it is re-created in him. It is intellectually united to him before it is spiritually united to him. It is Christ who conducts the march of human history . . . He is the author, the subject, the end of the Old Testament revelation and the New Testament is simply his emerging from behind the scenes, where he has been invisibly managing the drama of history, to take visible part in the play, to become the leading actor in it, and to bring it to its dènouement. The curtain has not fallen, and it will not fall until the end of the world. But that appearance of the incarnate, crucified, risen, ascending God has given us the key to human history.
It is the manifestation to sense of what Christ, the pre-incarnate Logos, has been doing ever since man's first sin. But it is also the summing up and expression
of his very being. The incarnation and the atonement are object-lessons only because they are realities. God's holiness and love are focused in the cross, so that it reveals to us the heart of the Eternal, and teaches us more of him than we can learn from all space and time besides.
How can the innocent justly suffer the penalty for the guilty? How can the justification of Christ become my justification? Because "in him all things consist." There is nothing arbitrary in the process; it is simply natural law and actual fact. It is impossible that he who is the natural life of humanity should not be responsible for the sin committed by his own members. It is impossible that he should not suffer, that he should not make reparation, that he should not atone. The incarnation and death of Christ are only the outward and temporal exhibition of an eternal fact in the being of God, and of a suffering for sin endured by the pre-incarnate Son of God ever since the fall. The wrath of God against sin began to be endured by Christ just so soon as sin began. The patriarchs and prophets were saved, not so much by the retroactive effect of a future atonement, as by the present effect of an atonement which was even then in progress. The sacrifices of the Mosaic system had something behind them even then. Gethsemane and Calvary were concrete presentations of age-long facts: the fact, on the one hand, that holiness must punish sin; and the fact, on the other hand, that he who gave his life to man at the beginning must share man's guilt and penalty. But the satisfaction of justice culminates in redemption-that is, in the conquest of sin and death. The eternal atonement is not such a conquest
The historical atonement is such a conquest. It is not merely a manifestation, it is the objectivication, of the eternal suffering love of God, and at the same time the actual deliverance of our nature from sin and death by Jesus Christ.
The union of Christ with the race by the fact of creation explains not only the necessity of the atonement and its foundation in justice, but it also shows how the work of the great Sin-bearer inures to the benefit of the race. It is easy to see how justification comes to all who are united to Christ by faith, for those who are made spiritually one with him become partakers of his justification. But how shall we make comprehensible the salvation of infants and of those who, dike imbeciles and idiots, never in this life come to moral consciousness? Their natures are perverted, the germs of evil are in them, we believe them to be saved, but how? I venture to say that Christ's, natural union with the race furnishes an explanation here. Man's natural and unconscious union with Christ gives him the benefit of Christ's work for corporate humanity and justifies him from hereditary and unconscious sin, just as man's spiritual and conscious union with Christ gives him the benefit of Christ's work for the individual and justifies him from conscious and personal sin. Every other doctrine of infant salvation fails to meet the objection that guilt is taken away from none but those who are in union with Christ. The natural union of all men with Christ, `tin whom all things consist," provides for man's unconscious and hereditary sin an unconscious and hereditary justification in the case of all who do not, like Esau, reject their birthright.
Here too, I am happy to quote from Professor Simon1 a passage which shows how man's natural relation to Christ brings blessing and benefit to all who do not willfully refuse his gifts.
"Remember," he says, "that men have not first to engraft themselves into Christ, the living whole . . . They subsist naturally in him, and they have to cut themselves off from him if they are to be separate. This is the mistake made in the "Life of Christ" theory [referring to the work of Edward White, advocating conditional immortality]. Men are [in this theory] treated as in some sense out of Christ and as having to get into connection with Christ . . . But we have not to create the relation; we have simply to accept, to recognize, to ratify it. Rejecting Christ is not so much refusal to become one with Christ as it is refusal to remain one with him, refusal to let him be our life."
So we get a clear and satisfactory meaning for that text which has puzzled so many exegetes, in which we read of "the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of them that believe." And we are also enabled to understand the meaning of Christ's own words when, in the similitude of the vine and the branches, he speaks of the multitude who are connected with him naturally by creation, but who refuse to receive his spiritual life and so are cast out and wither and are burned. It cannot be those who are spiritual branches of the vine that are thus cast out, for of them Christ had said that "they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of my hand." Those who are cast out can only be the natural branches, which in the exercise of free-will have closed the channels of their being to all access and inflowing of the spiritual life of
1 Redemption of Man, p. 339.
the vine. Eternal life consists in thinking with the thought, loving with thc love, and willing with the will of God; and since Christ is God manifested, Deity made available to us, Divinity brought down to our human comprehension and engaged in the work of our salvation, to accept Christ is eternal life, to reject Christ is eternal death.
So "the grace of God," to use the language of another,1 "is as organic in its relation to man as is the evil of his nature. Grace also reigns wherever justice reigns." Salvation must be by grace. For law admits of no palliations. What is is, and that is the end of it. Only grace permits a personal probation of each individual after the first sin. But grace secures the administration of all human history in the interest of man's salvation. As the Logos or divine Reason, Christ dwells in humanity everywhere and constitutes the principle of its being, humanity shares with Christ in the image of God. That image is never wholly lost. It is completely restored in sinners when the Spirit of Christ secures control of their wills and leads them to merge their life in his. This work Christ is carrying on over the whole earth. In the Hebrew nation he made peculiar communications of his truth. The inspiration of the prophets was "what the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify." But all truth, whether made known by reason, conscience, or tradition, is Christ's communication to mankind. Heathen religions, so far as they convict of sin and lead to trust in God's mercy, are Christ's revelation. Because "tall things consist in him," the heathen come already in
1 Jonathan Edwards, Prof. A. V. G. Allen, p. 312.
contact with Christ, sin against light, have a just probation, are without excuse, need no further trial.
The doctrine thus propounded is a doctrine which immeasurably exalts the person of our Lord. It makes worship of Christ and dependence upon Christ rational. For Christ is practically, and so far as we are concerned, all there is of God and of the universe.
In his life the law appears
Drawn out in living characters,
simply because he is the organic law at the heart of things, both in physical nature and in the constitution of. man. His life in the flesh only manifests the nature of God and the truth of being. Not only all the fullness of the Godhead was in him, but all the fullness of humanity also. When he atoned, humanity atoned. He could pay man's penalty, because he constituted the essence of man's nature. The offering in time was the outward expression of an offering that reached beyond the bounds of time. "Through the eternal Spirit he offered himself without spot to God"; the provision and the sacrifice were eternal. It was fitting that all nature should hide her face and shudder when Jesus breathed out his life upon the cross, for the sufferer was he "in whom all things consist."
Well might the sun in darkness hide
And shut his glories in,
When Christ, the mighty Maker, died
For man, the creature's sin!
I do not regard the monistic doctrine as contravening any article of the Christian faith. I rather hold
that it furnishes a point of view from which each of these articles may be more broadly, profoundly, and successfully studied. Old objections to revealed truth disappear in the light of it. To many a perplexed believer, distressed because common explanations cease to satisfy, the new doctrine will give new faith and hope. Let me simply glance at a few problems which are thus illuminated. If Christ be the principle and life of all things, then the immortality and value of man's soul are comprehensible; the psalmist's words have new meaning: "Thou madest him a little lower than God"; and he could "call them gods unto whom the word of God came." Divine sovereignty and human freedom, if they are not absolutely reconciled, at least lose their ancient antagonism, and we can rationally "work out our own salvation," for the very reason that "it is God that worketh in us, both to will and to work, for his good pleasure." The person of Christ has new light thrown upon it, for he who, as the divine reason and power, is the only-begotten Son of God, in taking our humanity only limits himself by a special and permanent assumption of that which was never foreign to him, and so becomes the Son of Man. Not metaphorically and ideally, but literally and really, can it be said of Christ that, because "one died for all, therefore all (that is, all believers) died" in him, just as it had been also said of Adam that, because one man sinned, "all sinned" in him. The efficacy of prayer is intelligible now; since Christ, who is with his people always, even unto the end of the world, is the connecting link between them and the whole physical and moral universe, which he "up holds by the word of his power."
The conversion of the sinner is simply a breaking down of the barriers which the human will has set Up against the inflowing of Christ's life; sanctification is the larger and larger appropriation of this same life of Christ-an "eating of his flesh" and a "drinking of his blood."
Miracle and prophecy are relieved of their difficulties when we remember that nature is a manifestation of the mind and will of Christ, and that it is as plastic in his hand as is your thought to you, the thinker of it. Jesus can ascend into heaven from the hillside at Bethany, and he can come again in the clouds so that every eye in every part of the earth can see him; for hillside and clouds and heavens are nothing but manifestations of him. The problem of the resurrection can no longer stumble us; all physical things are but the expression of his mind and will; since he is the resurrection and the life, all that are in the tombs can hear his voice; he can raise both just and unjust, for body and spirit alike `' consist," or hold together, only `` ill him." He can be the judge of all, for he has been the sustainer of all human life, the compacter of every joint and sinew, the observer of every human act and of every human thought. There is no escape from Christ. Though I take the wings of the morning and fly to thc uttermost parts of the sea, the wings of the morning and the uttermost parts of the sea are themselves Christ, and I shall find that his hand leads me, and his right hand holds me. He is the one and only punisher of sin. Since "all things consist in him," the reaction of the natural laws of man's being, administered as they are by the Christ to whom all creatures and things are naturally united, is itself `` the wrath of the Lamb."
How plain it is that to reject Christ is to reject God! Personal, deliberate, conscious turning away from Christ is turning away from all light and love and hope. The medieval story relates that when Jesus was carrying his heavy cross along the streets of Jerusalem, on his way to Calvary, he stopped a moment at the door of a Jewish shoemaker, to ease him of his burden. But the shoemaker came forth and brutally bade the Saviour pass on. For this he is condemned to be himself forever passing on, roaming from land to land, seeking rest but finding none, until Christ comes again. Gustave Doré has given us a series of pictures of this `` Wandering Jew." The most solemn feature in them is the perpetually recurring cross. When the Jew lifts his eyes heavenward, he sees the cross upon the top of the cathedral spire; when he comes to the meeting of the ways, the guidepost makes a cross before him; rivers and floods, clouds and sunbeams, habitations of men and solitudes of nature, are all and evermore holding up to him the cross and reminding him of the One who died upon it, and whom he rejected and scorned so long ago. It is a parable of Christ's omnipresence. The suffering Saviour is the life of nature and of man. Through all history he is working out his atonement. The mark of the cross is upon every sun and star, upon every chemical atom, upon the body and the soul of every man. There is no other name given under heaven whereby we may be saved. If we accept him, we become spiritually partakers of the divine nature, and all things are ours. If we reject him, the very stars in their courses fight against us, and the whole universe becomes a cross, to condemn and to punish.
Let me then sum up my monistic doctrine by saying: There is but one substance-God. The eternal Word, whom in his historic manifestation we call Christ, is the only complete and perfect expression of God. The universe is Christ's finite and temporal manifestation of God. The universe is not itself God-it is only the partial unfolding of God's wisdom and power, adapted to the comprehension of finite intelligences. It has had a beginning-the world is temporal, while the Word is eternal. All expression or manifestation of the infinite and eternal Word under the forms of time and space must be a self-limitation. Matter is Christ's self-limitation under the law of cause and effect. Humanity is his self-limitation under the law of free-will, with its correlate, the possibility of sin. The incarnation and atonement are his self-limitations under the law of grace.
This is not pantheism, for pantheism is not simply monism, but monism coupled with two denials, the denial of the personality of God and the denial of the transcendence of God. My doctrine takes the grain of truth in pantheism, namely, its monistic element, while it maintains in opposition to pantheism the personality of God and the personality of man, though it regards the latter as related to the former, somewhat as the persons of the Trinity are related to the one all-inclusive divine personality. My doctrine maintains, with equal strenuousness, the transcendence of God, though it regards transcendence as not necessarily outsideness in space, but rather inexhaustibleness of resource within, and so conceives of evolution as the common method of God, while it leaves room for supernatural working in incarnation, resurrection, regeneration.
There are no second causes in nature. The forces and laws of nature are thc habits or generic volitions of God. Finite spirits are the only second causes, for only they have freedom. Having freedom, they do not reproduce in particular acts a generic volition of God; they may set their wills in opposition to God. That these finite spirits are circumscriptions of the divine substance and have in them the divine life shows the infinite value of their being; but it also shows the dreadfulness of their sin when they morally sunder themselves from God. While deterministic monism puts both man and God under the law of cause and effect, and so makes impossible the sin on the part of man which requires redemption and the free grace on the part of God which provides redemption, Christian or Ethical Monism holds to self-determination in both God and man and maintains the reality and guilt of sin as well as the possibility and reality of grace.
Ethical Monism gives an explanation of the atonement by showing that the union of Christ with all men, by creation, involves him in responsibility for their sin, even though he himself is the absolutely Holy One. The union of all men with Christ, by creation, shows us how certain benefits of his redemption, such as justification from hereditary and unconscious sin, may inure to all, while justification from conscious and personal sin may inure only to those who become one with Christ by faith. That all men are naturally the offspring of God, and in a subordinate sense partake of the divine nature in Christ, no more proves the future annihilation of all impenitent sinners or the future restoration of all men, than it proves the present annihilation of all sinners
or the present restoration of all men. Ethical Monism holds to one substance; but it also holds to free-will, and the very dignity of man's origin makes his self-perversion the more awful. If he can resist God here, he can resist him forever, and the very fact that God has breathed into man the breath of life may only result in an immortality of misery to him who has devoted that breath of life to the pursuit of evil.
In an earlier part of this discussion I have said that the proof of such doctrine as monism must be inductive-its ability to solve the problems of existence in a more complete and satisfactory way than that of the older dualistic theory. I believe that the tendency toward monism in physical and metaphysical science, in biology and psychology, in literature and theology, shows that the monistic theory meets a great want of our time. If it can be proved that the Scriptures, either directly or by implication, teach the opposite doctrine, I shall be the first to confess the vanity of my reasoning and to return to the common view. But prolonged examination of the ]3ib]e leads me to believe that monism is itself the Scripture doctrine, implicitly if not explicitly taught, not only by John but by Paul, and I therefore provisionally accept it.
Dr. Lyman Abbott has been advocating of late the divinity of man, and Dr. Charles H. Parkhurst has been comparing the relations between man and God to the relation between the waves and the ocean. Such expressions sound dangerously pantheistic, and the last of them seems inconsistent with personal immortality. But let us not interpret these brethren too narrowly. In these rather ill-chosen phrases they are doubtless
striving to declare that God is the one and only principle of existence, and that man has life only as he lives in God. Pantheists like Spinoza have had currency simply because there has been a great truth at the foundation of their systems. It is the truth which Emerson put into verse:
I am owner of the sphere,
Of the seven stars and the solar year,
Of Caesar's hand and Plato's brain,
Of Lord Christ's heart and Shakespeare's strain.
All this is an unconscious effort to set forth the fact that, by virtue of his relationship to God, unfallen man is lord of nature, and that in Christ regenerate man has all things put beneath his feet. When Wordsworth writes:
Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting;
The soul that rises with us, our life's star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting, and cometh from afar.
Not in entire forgetfulness,
Not yet in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home,
he is only giving poetical expression to the thought that all life is from God, that there is community between our life and the divine. Moses had declared it thirty-five centuries before when he wrote: t~ Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations." And Paul declared it when eighteen hundred years ago he said that for him to live was Christ, and that not he lived, but Christ lived in him. It is `` The Higher Pantheism " of which Tennyson writes:
The sun, the moon, the stars, the seas, the hills, and the plains -
Are not these, O soul, the vision of him who reigns?
Dark is the world to thee; thyself art the reason why;
For is not he all but thou, that hast power to feel "I am ?
Speak to him thou, for he hears, and spirit with spirit can meet;
Closer is he than breathing, and nearer than hands and feet.
And the ear of man cannot hear, and the eye of man cannot see;
But if we could see and hear, this vision-were it not he?
But this "higher pantheism" is not pantheism at all, for it recognizes the great truths which pantheism denies, the separate personality of both man and God, and God's infinite exaltation above the universe which only partially manifests him; in other words, the higher pantheism rightly understood is only Ethical Monism.
So too, we acknowledge the truth which scientific men like Darwin and Huxley have discovered, while we add to it the illuminating principle which they have ignored. So long as they refuse to recognize Jesus Christ in physics and in history, the humblest Christian knows more of the secret of the universe than they. To the Christian, the wonderful panorama of nature which Christ has caused to pass before him has become transparent, and he has seen behind it the author of all. To him the great drama of history has a unity and a meaning, for he has seen that the purpose of it all is to glorify Christ, for whom as well as through whom all things have been created. An Ethical Monism recognizes all the truth there is in pantheism, without including any of its errors. It recognizes God as the all-inclusive life of the universe, while it adds the truths which pantheism ignores-God's personality and transcendence.
The full acknowledgment in theology of this doctrine of one substance has been delayed, for the same reason that the Trinity was not more clearly revealed to the Old Testament saints-preparatory doctrines needed to be taught first. In the education of the race the teaching of God's unity had to precede the teaching of God's trinity, because, otherwise, trinity would have been interpreted as polytheism. So the teaching of human personality, freedom, responsibility, sin, has had to precede the teaching that man is of one substance with God, because, otherwise, consubstantiality would have been interpreted as pantheism. But now theology enters upon a new stage of scientific completeness. The principle of unity has been found to be Christ, "in whom all things consist." No man can measure the importance of this discovery. It will exert an influence in both philosophy and theology like that which was exerted by the change from Ptolemy to Copernicus. He who unites humanity and deity is the central sun about whom revolve all the orbs of human knowledge, and from him they derive their light. There is hope for philosophy and for theology, because "in him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily." Christ in creation furnishes to both philosophy and theology their greatest desideratum-an Ethical Monism.