We find further, another fact of even more significance to the historian who will treat human experience with seriousness and sympathy. The cynical view that delusion and error in a real world have peculiar power in human affairs, may be dismissed; no serious student of history could hold it.
For those who believe, as we all do at heart, that the world is rational, that real effects follow real causes, and conversely that behind great movements lie great forces, the fact must weigh enormously that wherever the Christian Church, or a section of it, or a single Christian, has put upon Jesus Christ a higher emphasis—above all where everything has been centred in Jesus Christ—there has been an increase of power for Church, or community, or man. Where new value has been found in Jesus Christ, the Church has risen in power, in energy, in appeal, in victory.
Paul of Tarsus progressively found more in Christ, expected more of him, trusted him more; and his faith was justified. If Paul was wrong, how did he capture the Christian Church for his ideas? If he was wrong, how is it that when Luther caught his meaning, re-interpreted him and laid the same emphasis on Jesus Christ with his “Nos nihil sumus, Christus solus est omnia", once more the hearts of men were won by the higher doctrine of Christ’s person and power, and a new era followed the new emphasis? How is it that, when John Wesley made the same discovery, and once more staked all on faith in Christ, again the Church felt the pulse of new life?
On the other hand, where through a nebulous philosophy men have minimized Jesus, or where, through some weakness of the human mind, they have sought the aid of others and relegated Jesus Christ to a more distant, even if a higher, sphere—where, in short, Christ is not the living centre of everything, the value of the Church has declined, its life has waned. That, to my own mind, is the most striking and outstanding fact in history. There must be a real explanation of a thing so signal in a rational universe.
The explanation in most human affairs comes after the recognition of the fact. There our great fact stands of the significance of Jesus Christ—a more wonderful thing as we study it more. We may fail to explain it, but we must recognize it. One of the weaknesses of the Church to-day is—put bluntly—that Christians are not making enough of Jesus Christ.