Occasional Papers eBook

Richard William Church
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 378 pages of information about Occasional Papers.
But the achievement of Christ in founding by his single will and power a structure so durable and so universal, is like no other achievement which history records.  The masterpieces of the men of action are coarse and common in comparison with it, and the masterpieces of speculation flimsy and insubstantial.  When we speak of it the commonplaces of admiration fail us altogether.  Shall we speak of the originality of the design, of the skill displayed in the execution?  All such terms are inadequate.  Originality and contriving skill operated indeed, but, as it were, implicitly.  The creative effort which produced that against which, it is said, the gates of hell shall not prevail, cannot be analysed.  No architects’ designs were furnished for the New Jerusalem, no committee drew up rules for the Universal Commonwealth.  If in the works of Nature we can trace the indications of calculation, of a struggle with difficulties, of precaution, of ingenuity, then in Christ’s work it may be that the same indications occur.  But these inferior and secondary powers were not consciously exercised; they were implicitly present in the manifold yet single creative act.  The inconceivable work was done in calmness; before the eyes of men it was noiselessly accomplished, attracting little attention.  Who can describe that which unites men?  Who has entered into the formation of speech which is the symbol of their union?  Who can describe exhaustively the origin of civil society?  He who can do these things can explain the origin of the Christian Church.  For others it must be enough to say, “the Holy Ghost fell on those that believed.”  No man saw the building of the New Jerusalem, the workmen crowded together, the unfinished walls and unpaved streets; no man heard the chink of trowel and pickaxe; it descended out of heaven from God.

And here we leave this remarkable book.  It seems to us one of those which permanently influence opinion, not so much by argument as such, as by opening larger views of the familiar and the long-debated, by deepening the ordinary channels of feeling, and by bringing men back to seriousness and rekindling their admiration, their awe, their love, about what they know best.  We have not dwelt on minute criticisms about points to which exception might be taken.  We have not noticed even positions on which, without further explanation, we should more or less widely disagree.  The general scope of it, and the seriousness as well as the grandeur and power with which the main idea is worked out, seem to make mere secondary objections intolerable.  It is a fragment, with the disadvantages of a fragment.  What is put before us is far from complete, and it needs to be completed.  In part at least an answer has been given to the question what Christ was; but the question remains, not less important, and of which the answer is only here foreshadowed, who He was.  But so far as it goes, what it does is this:  in the face of all attempts

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Occasional Papers from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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