WHAT CAN WE BELIEVE IF WE DO NOT THUS BELIEVE IN JESUS?
If all this evidence is insufficient to prove the Divine nature of Jesus Christ, it may be well to consider on what religious fact or truth we can fall back, as being based upon surer evidence, and affording, therefore, a surer ground of faith and hope.
1. On what part of Christ’s “work” on earth can we fall back? We can no more recognise God the Father as truly revealing Himself in Jesus as his co-eternal Son; and the whole light and life of such a revelation in Christ, as hitherto seen and received by the apostles and the Christian Church, is for ever extinguished and destroyed. We can no more believe Jesus as our Prophet, when we do not accept the very truths to which He gave most prominence: nor can we trust Him as our King, when we believe Him to have been a mere man only, who neither possesses nor could wield power adequate to govern the world: nor can we trust Him as our Priest, for in Him is no longer manifested the love of God in sending His own Son to be a propitiation for the sins of the world. And who, we may add, will believe in a Holy Spirit as a Divine Person, whose very work is represented by Jesus to be that of convincing the world of sin “because it believes not in Him,” as “glorifying Him,” and taking of His things to shew them to the spirits of men?
2. Can we, then, accept of Christ as a perfect example? How is this possible? For remember, it was the example of one who is assumed to be a man like ourselves, but yet a man who never, by one act of contrition or confession, acknowledged the existence of personal sin or defect of any kind; a man rarely endowed, and yet who never once expressed gratitude to God for His rich and varied gifts; a man who prayed indeed to God, yet as one who was His equal, and who in His last hours uttered such words as these—“All mine are thine, and thine are mine! Father, I will that they also whom thou hast given me, may be with me where I am, that they may behold my glory!” Can we, sinners, follow this example, as that of “our model man, in everything?” Dare we closely follow a life like this, and then end it by voluntarily giving ourselves up as a ransom “for the remission of the sins of many?”
3. Can we even retain the character of Jesus? The atheist admits that Jesus was the greatest man who ever lived on earth. A worshipper of heroes says of Him in his Hero Worship,—“The greatest of all heroes is one whom I do not name here.” The character of this wonderful Being has indeed been generally recognised as a bright spot amidst the world’s darkness; as the only perfect model of goodness ever seen on earth—yea, as moral beauty itself! But unless the history we possess of Jesus is untrue, and He was, therefore, no historical but a mere ideal