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Lord, omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent? Is he divine only in the sense in which we are divine, or is he the only-begotten Son, God manifest in the flesh, in whom is all the fulness of the Godhead bodily? What think ye of the Christ? is still the critical question, and none are entitled to the name of Christian who, in the face of the evidence he has furnished us, cannot answer the question aright.
Under the influence of Ritschl and his Kantian relativism, many of our teachers and preachers have swung off into a practical denial of Christ's deity and of his atonement. We seem upon the verge of a second Unitarian defection, that will break up churches and com pel secessions, in a worse manner than did that of Channing and Ware a century ago. American Christianity recovered from that disaster only by vigorously asserting the authority of Christ and the inspiration of the Scriptures. We need a new vision of the Savior like that which Paul saw on the way to Damascus and John saw on the isle of Patmos, to convince us that Jesus is lifted above space and time, that his existence antedated creation, that he conducted the march of Hebrew history, that he was born of a virgin, suffered on the cross, rose from the dead, and now lives forevermore, the Lord of the universe, the only God with whom we have to do, our Savior here and our Judge hereafter. Without a revival of this faith our churches will become secularized, mission enterprise will die out, and the candlestick will be removed out of its place as it was with the seven churches of Asia, and as it has been with the apostate churches of New England.
I print this revised and enlarged edition of my “Systematic Theology,” in the hope that its publication may do somethir.g to stem this fast advancing tide, and to confirm the faith of God's elect. I make no doubt that the vast majority of Christians still hold the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints, and that they will sooner or later separate themselves from those who deny the Lord who bought them. When the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord will raise up a standard against him. I would do my part in raising up such a standard. I would lead others to avow anew, as I do now, in spite of the supercilious assumptions of modern infidelity, my firm belief, only confirmed by the experience and reflection of a half-century, in the old doctrines of holiness as the fundamental attribute of God, of an original transgression and sin of the whole human race, in a divine preparation in Hebrew history for man's redemption, in the deity, preëxistence, virgin birth, vicarious atonement and bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ our Lord, and in his future coming to judge the quick and the dead. I believe that these are truths of sciemy as well as truths of revelation ; that the supernatural will yakseen to be most truly natural ; and that not the open-minded theologian but the narrow-minded scientist will be obliged to hide his head at Christ's coming.
The present volume, in its treatment of Ethical Monism, Inspiration, the Attributes of God, and the Trinity, contains an antidote to most of the false doctrine which now threatens the safety of the church. I desire especially to call attention to the section on Perfection, and the Attributes therein involved, because I believe that the recent merging of Holiness in Love, and the practical denial that Righteousness is fundamental in God's nature, arə responsible for the utilitarian views of law and the superficial views of sin which now prevail in some systems of theology. There can be no proper doctrine of the atonement and no proper doctrine of retribution, so long as Holiness is refused its preëminence. Love must have a norm or standard, and this norm or standard can be found only in Holiness. The old conviction of sin and the sense of guilt that drove the convicted sinner to the cross are inseparable from a firm belief in the self-affirming attribute of God as logically prior to and as conditioning the self-communicating attribute. The
theology of our day needs a new view of the Righteous One. Such a view will make it plain that God must be reconciled before man can be saved, and that the human conscience can be pacified only upon condition that propitiation is made to the divine Righteous
In this volume I propound what I regard as the true Doctrine of God, because upon it will be based all that follows in the volumes on the Doctrine of Man, and the Doctrine of Salvation.
The universal presence of Christ, the Light that lighteth every man, in heathen as well as in Christian lands, to direct or overrule all movements of the human mind, gives me confidence that the recent attacks upon the Christian faith will fail of their purpose. It becomes evident at last that not only the outworks are assaulted, but the very citadel itself. We are asked to give up all belief in special revelation. Jesus Christ, it is said, has come in the flesh precisely as each one of us has come, and he was before Abraham only in the same sense that we were. Christian experience knows how to characterize such doctrine so soon as it is clearly stated. And the new theology will be of use in enabling even ordinary believers to recognize soul-destroying heresy even under the mask of professed orthodoxy.
I make no apology for the homiletical element in my book. To be either true or useful, theology must be a passion. Pectus est quod theologum facit, and no disdainful cries of “Pectoral Theology!” shall prevent me from maintaining that the eyes of the heart must be enlightened in order to perceive the truth of God, and that to know the truth it is needful to do the truth. Theology is a science which can be successfully cultivated only in connection with its practical application. I would therefore, in every discussion of its principles, point out its relations to Christian experience, and its power to awaken Christian emotions and lead to Christian decisions. Abstract theology is not really scientific. Only that theology is scientific which brings the student to the feet of Christ.
I would hasten the day when in the name of Jesus every knee shall bow. I believe that, if any man serve Christ, him the Father will honor, and that to serve Christ means to honor him as I honor the Father. I would not pride myself that I believe so little, but rather that I believe so much. Faith is God's measure of a man. Why should I doubt that God spoke to the fathers through the prophets? Why should I think it incredible that God should raise the dead ? The things that are impossible with men are possible with God. When the Son of man comes, shall he find faith on the earth? Let him at least find faith in us who profess to be his followers. In the conviction that the present darkness is bei
by temporary and that it will be banished by a glorious sunrisir
resto give this new edition of my “Theology” to the public with' the prayer that whatever of good seed is in it may bring forth fruit, and that whatever plant the heavenly Father has not planted may be rooted up.
ROCHESTER THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY,
ROCHESTER, N. Y., AUGUST 3, 1906.
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