|WHAT do ye think of the Son of Man?| This is the religious question of the age. We rejoice in it, and thank the infidel biographers of Jesus for having urged it upon the attention of the world. The result of the renewed struggle can not be doubtful: in all theological controversies, truth is the gainer in the end. Though nailed to the cross, and buried in the tomb, it rises again triumphant over error, taking captivity captive, and changing at times even a bitter foe, like Saul of Tarsus, into a devoted friend. Goethe says: |The conflict of faith and unbelief remains the proper, the only, the deepest theme of the history of the world and mankind, to which all others are subordinated.| This very conflict centers in the Christological problem.
The question of Christ is the question of Christianity, which is the manifestation of his life in the world; it is the question of the Church, which rests upon him as the immovable rock; it is the question of history, which revolves around him as the central sun of the moral universe; it is the question of every man, who instinctively yearns after him as the object of his noblest and purest aspirations; it is a question of personal salvation, which can only be obtained in the blessed name of Jesus. The whole fabric of Christianity stands or falls with its divine-human Founder; and if it can never perish, it is because Christ lives, the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever.
The object of this book is simply to show, in a popular style, that the Person of Christ is the great central miracle of history, and the strongest evidence of Christianity. The very perfection of his humanity is a proof of his Divinity. The indwelling of God in him is the only satisfactory solution of the problem of his amazing character.
From his miraculous Person, his miraculous works follow as an inevitable consequence. Being a miracle himself, he must perform miracles with the same ease with which ordinary men do their ordinary works. The contrary would be unnatural. The character of the tree determines the nature of the fruit. |Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me; or else believe me for the very works' sake| (John xiv.11; comp. x.38). I believe in Christ, and therefore I believe the Bible, and all its wonderful words and wonderful works.
Standing on this rock, I feel safe against all the attacks of infidelity. The person of Christ is to me the greatest and surest of all facts; as certain as my own personal existence; yea, even more so: for Christ lives in me, and he is the only valuable part of my being. I am nothing without my Saviour. I am all with him, and would not exchange him for ten thousand worlds. To give up faith in Christ is to give up faith in humanity. Such skepticism legitimately ends at last in the nihilism of despair.
This volume has grown out of an essay of the author, on the Moral Character of Christ, originally prepared for the Porter Rhetorical Society, of the Theological Seminary at Andover, Mass., and delivered at its anniversary, Aug.1, 1860. The Collection of Testimonies of Unbelievers to the moral perfection of Christ, is, to my knowledge, the first attempt of the kind, and hence far from being complete. But all our works are mere fragments.
Infidels are seldom convinced by argument; for the springs of unbelief are in the heart rather than in the head. But honest inquirers and earnest skeptics, like Nathanael and Thomas, who love the truth, and wish only for tangible support of their weak faith, will never refuse, when the evidence is laid before them, to embrace it with grateful joy, and to worship the incarnate God. Blessed are they that seek the truth; for they shall find it.
Bible House, New York, May 11, 1865.