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ashamed before Him at His coming (1. 2 28), nay, that he may have boldness in the day of judgment (1. 417): we know that if He shall be manifested we shall be like Him; and having this hope set upon Him we must purify ourselves as He was pure (1. 3 2 f.).
And yet, side by side with this presentation of Jesus, which may be said to be at once transcendent and experimental, we find a persistent emphasis laid on the reality of His human life. The epistle is a testimony to one who had lived as man among men, and everything that imperils this historical basis of Christianity imperils the Christian life itself. This at least is how the matter is conceived by the author. He is the only New Testament writer who uses the term antichrist; and the antichrist is identified by him with the denial of Jesus Christ as having come in the flesh (I. 2 18-22, 43, II. verse 7). The reference in these passages is to the mode of thought which is usually associated with the name of Cerinthus. Cerinthus distinguished Jesus from the Christ.' The Christ was a divine being who descended from heaven. and was associated with Jesus from His baptism onward; this is what is meant by coming 'through the water.' But according to Cerinthus, he came through the water only; he was not indissolubly associated with Jesus so as to pass also through His agony and death. He did not come in the water and in the blood. This is the mode of thought which, to the writer, is 'antichrist,' a denial of the essential facts on which Christianity depends for its being. For him the only Christ is Jesus; the only fatal lie is that which declares that Jesus is not the Christ (1. 222). He has what might almost be called a dogmatic test for 'spirits' speaking in the Church: every spirit which confesses Jesus Christ as come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus
'Irenaeus, Adv. Haer. i. 21.
is not of God (1. 4). The one victor over the world. is he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God, the Jesus who came in the water and in the blood, and whose whole life from the baptism to the passion, unquestioned in its historical reality, is perpetuated in the Church, in its spiritual meaning and virtue, in the Christian sacraments-Baptism answering to 'the water' and the Supper to the 'blood.' What has been already said about the Son as standing in some sort of co-ordination with the Father-about His confronting men as the Saviour of the world, the propitiation for all sin, the sole bearer of eternal life-is not to be put into any kind of competition or contrast with this; in the mind of the writer, the Person of whom these extraordinary things are true is the historical person who was baptized by John in Jordan and who hung at Calvary on the Cross. It is the historical truth and reality of the life of Jesus on which the eternal life of believers is dependent; to assail or undermine the one is to threaten the other at its foundation.
The Cerinthian interpretation of Christianity was no doubt derived from the dualistic philosophy of the time; people shrank or affected to shrink from the idea that a spiritual or divine nature could be intimately or permanently related to matter, and especially from the idea that it could pass through the degrading and odious squalor of the crucifixion. Although the same motives do not operate now, what is practically the same result is often reached under another impulse. Men are attracted by the idea that the Christian religion should be lifted above the region in which historic doubts are possible; they wish to refine it, to spiritualise it, to make it an affair of ideas to which any given historical fact is immaterial. It is as if they said, All these things are true-but they are true in independence of Jesus. There are such realities as
1See Expositor, May, 1908. Article by the writer.
eternal life, divine sonship, forgiveness of sins—yes, and even propitiation for sins-but they are realities which belong to the eternal world; they have their being in God, and Jesus is only accidentally related to them. Once grasp the principle of Christianity, and Jesus, like every other historical person, is indifferent to it. He has no place in the gospel, though He (and no other) may have been the occasion of these eternal truths breaking upon one or another mind. All that has to be said about this at present is that it is not the understanding of the writer of these epistles. It is a mode of thought which in all essentials was present to his mind, and which he deliberately and decisively rejected. It was not simply incongruous or uncongenial, it was fatal to Christianity as he understood it. For it is impossible to read otherwise than literally the words with which he introduces himself to his readers: "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and our hands handled, concerning the word of life-and the life was manifested, and we have seen and bear witness and announce to you the eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested unto us-that which we have seen and heard we announce to you also, that you also may have fellowship with us; yea, and our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ' (1. 11-3). It is this unity of the historical and the eternal, this eternal and divine significance of the historical, which is the very stamp and seal of the Christian religion.
(c) The Gospel according to John
In examining the synoptic gospels we had occasion to remark on the distinction which has to be drawn in them between the testimony of the evangelists to Jesus
and the testimony of Jesus to Himself. Though the writers of these gospels would not have drawn such a distinction themselves, and did their work, so far as we can see, quite unconscious of it, it is necessary that we should draw it, and it is not in their case too difficult to apply it. The difficulty is very much increased and amounts at various points to an impossibility when we come to the fourth gospel. There is only one style in the gospel from beginning to end, and every one speaks in it-John the Baptist, Jesus, the evangelist himself. There is only one mode of thought represented in it from beginning to end, and every one shares it-John the Baptist, Jesus, the evangelist himself. What it enables us to see with indubitable clearness is the place which Jesus holds in the faith and life of the writer; what we cannot so easily recover from it is the exact relation of this place to that which Jesus Himself claimed. It is true that to a large extent the writer's testimony to Jesus is given through Jesus' life; it is represented as the very word of the Lord Himself. But the critical study of the gospel, and especially the comparison of it with the synoptics, makes it doubtful how far we can take this literally. It is the preponderating opinion of all who have investigated the subject that the fourth gospel is in substance the fulfilment of the words of Jesus which we read in c. 16 2: 'I have many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. But when He is come, the Spirit of truth, He shall lead you into all the truth . . . He shall glorify Me, for He shall take of Mine and shall declare it unto you.' The Jesus who speaks in its pages, though it is in form a gospel, and follows the course of His life on earth, is not only the Jesus who taught in the synagogues and fields of Galilee, or in the temple courts and streets of Jerusalem, but also the exalted Lord whose spirit vivifies and interprets the memories of Jesus in
the heart of an intimate, devoted, and experienced disciple. The words of Jesus are connected, of course, with times and places, for they are given as part of a historical career, but they do not belong to time or place; they are the expression of the eternal truth which was revealed in Jesus, and which for the writer is identical with Him. They are the word, rather than the words, of the Lord. They are the authentic revelation of what He is and was, as His Spirit has interpreted Him to the evangelist, rather than the ipsissima verba of Jesus of Nazareth. But while this makes it more difficult to use the fourth gospel without reflection in answering the second of the two questions with which we are concerned, it gives us ampler material to answer the first. The way in which Jesus presents Himself in the gospel can generally be taken as embodying the evangelist's own sense of his place and significance for faith.
Although the procedure is open to criticism, we vegin with the prologue. The immense influence which these few verses have had in determining the doctrine of the Catholic Church, and the tendency of a once dominant critical school to interpret them in a purely philosophical and speculative interest, should not blind us to their essentially practical, historical, and, it may even be added, experimental character. The main propositions they contain are those of vv. 14 and 16: 'The word was made flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. . . . Of His fulness we all received, and grace upon grace.' This is entirely in keeping with what we have found in the first epistle; and in spite of the attempts that have been made to find divergent modes of thought in the two documents and to assign them to different hands, the view of Lightfoot still seems to me to have everything in its favour-viz., that the epistle is a sort