“O Lord and Master of us
Whate’er our name or sign,
We own Thy sway, we hear Thy call,
We test our lives by Thine.
We faintly hear, we dimly see,
In differing phrase we pray;
But, dim or clear, we own in Thee
The Light, the Truth, the Way.”
* * * * *
“A prophet mighty
in word before God and all the people.”—LUKE
“A teacher come from God.”—JOHN iii. 2.
In speaking of the teaching of Jesus it is scarcely possible at the present day to avoid at least a reference to two other closely-related topics, viz. the relation of Christ’s teaching to the rest of the New Testament, and the trustworthiness of the Gospels in which that teaching is recorded. Adequate discussion of either of these questions here and now is not possible; it must suffice to indicate very briefly the direction in which, as it appears to the writer, the truth may be found.
First, then, as to the relation of the teaching of Jesus to the rest of the New Testament, and especially to the Epistles of St. Paul. There can be no doubt, largely, I suppose, through the influence of the Reformers, that the words of Jesus have not always received the attention that has been given to the writings of Paul. Nor is this apparent misplacing of the accent the wholly unreasonable thing which at first sight it may seem. After all, the most important thing in the New Testament—that which saves—is not anything that Jesus said, but what He did; not His teaching, but His death. This, the Gospels themselves being witness, is the culmination and crown of Revelation; and it is this which, in the Epistles, and pre-eminently the Epistles of Paul, fills so large a place. Moreover, it ought plainly to be said that the Church has never been guilty of ignoring the words of her Lord in the wholesale fashion suggested by some popular religious writers of our day. Really, the Gospels are not a discovery of yesterday, nor even of the day before yesterday. They have been in the hands of the Church from the beginning, and, though she has not always valued them according to their true and priceless worth, she has never failed to number them with the choicest jewels in the casket of Holy Scripture. Nevertheless, it may be freely granted that the teaching of Jesus has not always received its due at the Church’s hands. “Theology,” one orthodox and Evangelical divine justly complains, “has done no sort of justice to the Ethics of Jesus." But in our endeavour to rectify one error on the one side, let us see to it that we do not stumble into another and worse on the other side. The doctrines of Paul are not so much theological baggage, of which the Church would do well straightway to disencumber