JMC : The Christian Mind / by Dom Anscar Vonier, O.S.B.

Chapter VIII.
St. Paul's Argumentations.

In order to arrive at that most consoling conclusion, that Christ is our higher life, St. Paul's mind travels over very picturesque and, one might almost say, over very wild ground.

Or, to be more accurate, to St. Paul the great truth had come like a flash of lightening: it transformed him into a being of light and joy, in the twinkling of an eye.

It is the Jew and the Gentile, and more the Jew than the Gentile, he takes over the picturesque and rugged circuits of his theological argumentations, and he drops them, panting with effort, at Christ's feet and he tells them: "Here is the source for you of the living waters."

I think it worth the reader's while to go over St. Paul's strange and quaint reasonings, for I am afraid that many a student of the Scriptures has an unconscious prejudice against those very passages in St. Paul's writings; he thinks them too exclusively rabbinic in their concept and their drift. He might be tempted to consider them as having no longer any actuality, since the controversies which gave rise to them did not survive the first Christian ages.

No mistake could be more fatal. Those rugged efforts of St. Paul's intellect are the wild rock and the hard tree where we find the purest spiritual honey: I mean that sweetest of all truths, that Christ Himself is our Life.

I take the various arguments in the order in which they are found in the Epistles, beginning with the Epistle to the Romans.

I shall nor always quote the full text, but give the meaning of the passages as a free paraphrase.

The fourth chapter of the Epistle to the Romans takes us back to the heroic days of the Jewish nation, to the calm and simple days when God made a compact of friendship with Abraham,

The great old patriarch was without a son. It was the one shadow in a life full of sunshine. Even when God came near to him in a vision, and spoke to him words of comfort, the humble patriarch turned round to the Lord and told Him fearlessly that without a son the kind words of the Lord were no full consolation.

"Now when these things were done, the word of the Lord came to Abram by vision, saying: Fear not, Abram, I am thy protector, and thy reward exceedingly great. And Abram said: Lord God, what wilt thou give me? I shall go without children: and the son of the steward of my house is this Damascus Eliezer. And Abram added: But to me thou hast not given seed: and lo my servant, born in my house, shall be my heir. And immediately the word of the Lord came to him, saying: He shall not be thy heir; but he that shall come out of thy bowels, him shalt thou have for thy heir. And he brought him forth abroad, and said to him: Look up to heaven and number the stars, if thou canst. And he said to him: So shall thy seed be. Abram believed God, and it was reputed to him for justice" (Gen. xv. 1-6).

This glorious promise on the part of God, a promise that includes the future Messiah amongst the seed of Abraham, is a most gratuitous advance on the part of God.

It came directly from the mouth of Jehovah as a token of personal friendship and unprovoked liberality. Abraham, on his side, rose to the height of those divine advances. He believed in the promise without a moment's hesitation.

"Against hope", says St. Paul, "he believed in hope; that he might be made the father of many nations. . . . And he was not weak in faith; neither did he consider his own body now dead, whereas he was almost an hundred years old, nor the dead womb of Sara. In the promise also of God he staggered not by distrust; but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God: Most fully knowing that whatsoever he has promised, he is able also to perform. And therefore it was reputed to him unto justice" (Rom. iv. 18-22).

Abraham's supreme spiritual merit lay in this most generous and most unquestioning reliance on God's friendship. This act of perfect trust in God made Abraham the just man par excellence. "It was reputed to him unto justice."

St. Paul keeps on reiterating the gratuitousness of Abraham's privilege. Abraham's spiritual elevation comes from his meeting God's loving advances so wholeheartedly.

God, on the other hand, makes those advances freely, not as a reward of any special works on the part of the patriarch: above all, true and faithful observance of the law could not be credited with such recognition at God's hands.

The law of Moses did not exist yet, and circumcision itself, the primary article of the law, had not yet been imposed on Abraham.

The whole of that manifestation of divine friendship is not only superior to the law, it took place long before the law was established.

"For not through the law was the promise to Abraham, or to his seed, that he should be heir of the world, but through the justice of faith" (Rom. iv. 13).

Once more, God and Abraham meet directly, and their compact is as a compact between mutual friends.

But all this subtle analysis of Abraham's privilege is meant to lead to the following conclusion, which states the Christ spirituality in such uncompromising language :

"Now it is not written only for him, that it was reputed to him unto justice. But also for us, to whom it shall be reputed, if we believe in him, that raised up Jesus Christ, our Lord, from the dead. Who was delivered up for our sins, and rose again for our justification" (Rom. iv. 23-26).

From the uncovenanted and unsystematised privileges and graces and virtues of Abraham, St. Paul leaps on to the still higher liberties of the Christian.

Christ's resurrection, and our practical faith in that resurrection, bring us nearer to the living God, "who calleth those things that are not, as those that are" (Rom. iv. 17), than Abraham's unwavering trust in God's promise that a son would be granted to him, though "he was almost a hundred years old".

It is the same spirit of the liberty of the children of God, and the risen Christ, more than Abraham's overjoyed fatherhood, that is the real sign of God's love for the elect.

No law however perfect, no covenant however sacred, can come up in spiritual perfection to that most personal token of divine friendship, the risen Christ.

It is the Christian's matchless advantage that life with the risen Christ sums up, or rather takes the place of, all God's covenants, just as with Abraham the honours of a glorious fatherhood represent all that the Lord God is to him.

The thought occurred very soon to St. Paul, as it must, of course, to every thinking man, that this absolute superiority to law, in virtue of Christ's personal friendship, enjoyed by the Christian, would lead to a kind of contempt of the law, and that the liberty of the Incarnation would be turned into a disregard of the ordinary moral precepts.

In his effort to rebut the objection he plunges into a new consideration, which on the one hand saves him from a dangerous antinomianism, and which on the other hand is still a more brilliant exposition of his absorbing theme, the all-sufficiency of Christ, as a principle of sanctity.

I give it as the second argument, and instead of being borrowed from the Jewish history, it is taken from the beginnings of Christian life, baptism.

The sixth chapter to the Romans opens with it.

"What shall we say then? shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? God forbid. For we, that are dead to sin, how shall we live any longer therein? Know ye not that all we, who are baptised in Christ Jesus, are baptised in his death? For we are buried together with him by baptism into death: that, as Christ is risen from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we also may walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection. Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin may be destroyed, to the end that we may serve sin no longer. For he that is dead is justified from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall live also together with Christ: Knowing that Christ rising again from the dead, dieth no more, death shall no more have dominion over him. For in that he died to sin, he died once; but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God: So do you also reckon that you are dead to sin, but alive unto God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, so as to obey the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of iniquity unto sin; but present yourselves to God as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of justice unto God" (Rom. vi. 13).

I have transcribed the whole passage, as no paraphrase could do justice to such words.

Here, more than anywhere else, one cannot help feeling sad at the thought that our minds are so little in tune with that Infinite, which is Christ, that passages like the one just quoted have a very unfamiliar ring for our cold and critical intellects.

We fail to perceive the superhuman logic of St. Paul's discourse. Being so badly instructed in the mystery of Christ, and in the mystery of baptismal regeneration, we are unable to make of such language our own rules of thinking and speaking.

The death, then, of Christ, and baptism, are the same spiritual reality. Our own higher life, again, and Christ's resurrection, are the same spiritual realities.

The Christian detests sin, is dead to sin, not in virtue of a law that says: "Thou shalt not", but in virtue of his keen realisation of Christ's death, Who died on the cross to destroy sin. Through the innermost fibres of his regenerated being the death of Christ makes him have a horror of sin.

Why does he want a law to forbid sin, when he sees that Christ died from the evil of man's sin.

Such a sight, the sight of the crucified Son of God, is warning enough for the Christian: it is more than warning, it is a permanent state of conscience that makes sin appear in its full hideousness.

And how does he ever want to go back to sin, when it is his very condition to walk with the risen Christ in newness of life?

It is possible, of course, for the Christian to commit grievous sin. But his whole spiritual being, built up on Christ's death and Christ's resurrection, simply cries out against that deed in a way that law never can do. His sin is against his own regenerated soul, much more than against a law.

Far from opening the door to antinomianism, St. Paul's central doctrine kills sin, and gives birth to sanctity long before law speaks.

The death of Christ, and the resurrection of Christ are much more powerful guardians of purity than mere precepts. They are the temperament of the Christian soul, and are infinitely more sensitive than mere knowledge of duty.

"So do you also reckon that you are dead to sin, but alive unto God in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Could there be a better description of the Christ psychology, of the all-sufficiency of Christ, as the principle of spiritual life?

The general idea of the substitution of Christ for the system of law, and the more special idea that such a substitution is a quickening of the moral sense, far from its being an open door to antinomianism, are illustrated by one and the same example, at the beginning of the seventh chapter in I Corinthians. It is the third argument.

The law that governs matrimony, like all law, has dominion over man as long as he lives. Therefore, if the husband dies, the woman is free to be with another man: had she acted thus in the life-time of her husband, she would indeed have been an object of general reprobation.

Now Christ died: man is free from the law that yoked him down before that great event, the death of Christ. Man is free to be another's; he is no longer the law's. And whose is he now? Now he belongs to the risen Christ, in order "that we may bring forth fruit to God" (Rom. vii. 4).

For this liberty to go away from the law, to be with another, is not a forgetfulness of duty, it is not a barrenness in spirit, but it is fruitfulness in God Himself. It is the higher matrimony of the soul with God, and if it is a service, it is "in the newness of spirit, not in the oldness of the letter".

I now transcribe the whole text, Rom. vii. 1-7. "Know you not, brethren (for I speak to them that know the law), that the law hath dominion over a man, as long as he liveth? For the woman that hath an husband, whilst her husband liveth is bound to the law. But if her husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. Therefore, whilst her husband liveth, she shall be called an adulteress, if she be with another man; but if her husband be dead, she is delivered from the law of her husband: so that she is not an adulteress, if she be with another man. Therefore, my brethren, you also are become dead to the law, by the body of Christ: that you may belong to another, who is risen again from the dead, that we may bring forth fruit to God. For when we were in the flesh, the passions of sin which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death. But now we are loosed from the law of death, wherein we were detained: so that we should serve in the newness of spirit, not in the oldness of the letter."

The two main ideas come out very clearly from this apparently twisted, but very telling, simile.

The soul leaves the law, now dead, and is wedded to the risen Christ, and the natural fruit of this happy and loving alliance is spiritual fecundity.

I must remind the reader that I do not profess to be writing a commentary on the Epistle of St. Paul, but am concerned with the study of his Christ psychology. Were I to write such a commentary, I would give very special attention to St. Paul's way of using metaphors and similes. The Apostle never uses a parable in the logical sequel of a Gospel parable, for instance; for him, an example is not a thing of logic and sequel, but it is above all thing of mental contacts.

Between the great truth that overwhelms his mind, and a given example from history, or from law or from nature, he perceives points of contact, and his mind jumps from one point of contact to another irrespective of reasoned connections.

So in this instance. Death of the husband means liberty for the wife. Christ also is another man in His risen state from what He was in death. And those things which follow concerning the new fruitfulness in God, are so many sparks of light, scintillating forth from St. Paul's mind, as it works upon its simile of the wedding with the risen Christ, and as it sees new points of contact.

It would be quite futile to press St. Paul's comparison beyond what it really is, a brilliant assemblage of points of contact. No amount of subtlety could ever make of Christ's death the logical parallel of a husband's death, for the simple reason that the soul was not wedded to Christ before His death. But the great fact remains, that Christ's death has set man free from sin and servitude, even from spiritual servitude, and through the merit of that death we are entitled to the unspeakably high grace of the spiritual nuptials of the soul with the risen Christ, we are called to serve in the newness of spirit, not in the oldness of the letter.

The living spirit, as opposed to the dead letter, is one of St. Paul's ever recurring ideas, and the relation of this idea with what I might call Christ spirituality is obvious.

Christ is the living spirit, everything else is a dead letter.

Paul has drunk so deep from the cup of Christ's love, that the wisest and the best thing, when not informed by Christ's presence, is dull and dead to him.

In the second Epistle to the Corinthians we find him quite unexpectedly giving utterance to this obsessing thought, with reference to a matter that seemed hardly fit to furnish an occasion for so noble an utterance.

His enemies had been trying to undermine his position at Corinth; he appeals to their old affection and to his own well known affection for them.

With contempt he spurns away the idea that he is trying to commend himself to their favour, after so many years of loyal love. He is not the man who is in need of an epistle of commendation to them, a letter of introduction!

The word "epistle of commendation" coming here as a natural development of his eager effort to show his real footing with the Corinthians, is an idea too full of bright facets to be neglected.

What need has he of a letter? Are not the Corinthians written large over the Apostle's heart, and are not they a letter which the whole Church can read?

And more still, are not the Corinthians an epistle written by Christ Himself, ministered by Paul, who is Christ's amanuensis, a letter written not with ink, but with the spirit of the living God, not in tables of stone, but in fleshly tables of the heart?

And this close personal relation of Christ with the converts and of the converts with St. Paul, gives him, St. Paul, great confidence, as he knows himself to be a fit minister of the New Testament, not in the letter but in the spirit.

"Do we begin again to commend ourselves? Or do we need (as some do) epistles of commendation to you, or from you? You are our epistle, written in our hearts, which is known and read by all men: Being manifested, that you are the epistle of Christ, ministered by us, and written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God: not in tables of stone, but in the fleshly tables of the heart. And such confidence we have, through Christ towards God. Not that we are sufficient to think any thing of ourselves, as of ourselves: but our sufficiency is from God. Who also hath made us fit ministers of the new testament, not in the letter, but in the spirit. For the letter killeth, but the spirit quickeneth. Now if the ministration of death, engraven with letters upon stones, was glorious: so that the children of Israel could not steadfastly heboid the face of Moses, for the glory of his countenance which is made void: How shall not the ministration of the Spirit be rather in glory?" (ii. Cor. iii. 1-8.)

It would be impossible to find anywhere a more vivacious use of a metaphor, where there is such an absolute disregard of the logical parallelism combined with so complete an effect as to the final impression.

We know, when we have read the passage, that St. Paul has once more spoken his great conviction, that Christ is the living spirit.

The underlying metaphorical idea is a letter of commendation, the metaphor reaches its climax when the writer makes the assertion that the Corinthians themselves are a letter written by Christ "in fleshly hearts" by the Spirit of the Living God.

It would be difficult to express in a more telling way, that the psychology of the Christian is something quite unique, something that is very personal to Christ. "Being manifested, that you are the epistle of Christ." The regenerated soul bears Christ's private signature.

In his metaphor of the commendatory letter. St. Paul, quite unexpectedly again, introduces the allusion to the tables of stone on which the law had been written, in opposition to "the fleshly tables of the heart".

He rises easily to the parallel of Moses, who carried the tables, and to the countenance of Moses, which was so shining in power that the children of Israel did not dare to look upon it.

This new thought, the glorious face of Moses that is veiled, is one more welcome illustration, by way of contraries, of the excellency of the Christian ministry (which ministry is merely another side of the Christian relations with Christ).

It leads up to one of the most striking pronouncements even from St. Paul, on the immediateness of our relations with our Lord. "Now the Lord is a Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all beholding the glory of the Lord with open face, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, as by the Spirit of the Lord" (ii. Cor. iii. 17 18).

Frequently these beautiful words are quoted as being a description of the blessed vision of God in Heaven. Such interpretation can be read into them, by way of extension, but there is no doubt that the words refer to the process of spiritual identification between Christ and man, here on earth.

The whole context demands that we should apply the doctrine to our present life.

It is in the present life we enjoy the privileges, the glories of that higher ministry, which has finality, in opposition to the Mosaic dispensation which is made void in Christ.

As the minister of a God who speaks with us directly, the Apostle disdains to put a veil over his face in his daily intercourse with the faithful.

Let every Christian gaze constantly and boldly on the face of Christ.

Nothing stands between the Son of God and the soul, nothing can stand between, as "the Lord is a Spirit" who is not tied down to any circumstance of time and place, of laws and ceremonies. "Now if the ministration of death, engraven with letters upon stones, was glorious: so that the children of Israel could not steadfastly behold the face of Moses, for the glory of his countenance, which is made void: How shall not the ministration of the Spirit be rather in glory? For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more the ministration of justice aboundeth in glory. For even that which was glorious in this part was not glorified, by reason of the glory that excelleth. For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is in glory. Having therefore such hope, we use much confidence: And not as Moses put a veil upon his face that the children of Israel might not steadfastly look on the face of that which is made void. But their senses were made dull. For until this present day, the selfsame veil, in the reading of the old testament, remaineth not taken away (because in Christ it is made void). But even until this day when Moses is read, the veil is upon their heart. But when they shall be converted to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away. Now the Lord is a Spirit. And where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all beholding the glory of the Lord with open face, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, as by the Spirit of the Lord" (ii. Cor. iii. 7-18).

The Epistle to the Galatians, more than any other epistle, of set purpose is the defence of the doctrine that "as many of you as have been baptized in Christ, have put on Christ" (chap. iii. 27).

The Galatians, instructed and baptized by St. Paul, directly from Paganism, had lent their ear to false teachers, who made them believe that the law of Moses was indispensable to salvation.

St. Paul rebukes their simplicity with the masterfulness of a loving and watchful father.

The whole epistle is about the law versus the living Christ: directly and primarily he means the law of Moses, but, as in many other places, he extends his doctrines, and he applies his argumentations to the moral law in general, and he contrasts it with the advantage of having one's higher hopes anchored in the living Christ.

The epistle contains some of St. Paul's most famous and most characteristic sayings, embodying his great spiritual experience of the all-sufficiency of Christ. It is there we come on his immortal profession of life in Christ:

"God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ; by whom the world is crucified to me, and I to the world" (Gal. vi. 14).

But those glowing tributes to the all-sufficiency of Christ will be made object of a special study.

At present I am concerned with the analysis of the arguments, mostly metaphorical, by means of which St. Paul drives home the great truth.

There are three distinct argumentations towards that object in this epistle.

First, the Apostle gives a new and abridged version of the great argument we have already seen in the Epistle to the Romans,

It is all about the promise made to Abraham.

The whole strength of the argumentation lies in the nature of a promise. It was not a bilateral compact, but an unilateral one, God alone making a promise.

"Now a mediator is not of one; but God is one" (Gal. iii. 20).

The law was a bilateral arrangement between God and man, and Moses had been the mediator between God and the people.

The covenant that came after (it was 431 years after) could not weaken that great promise. The law cannot give life, if it did the great promise of God concerning the seed, which is Christ, would have become superfluous.

"That the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe," is just the Christian's hope.

He stands and falls with the reliability of that personal, unilateral act of God, a promise.

The Church in her liturgy makes of nearly the whole of this passage the Epistle of the Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost.

Reading it here will bring home familiar words, though we may have heard the epistle many times, sincerely wondering what place it occupied in our supernatural outfit.

"Brethren: To Abraham were the promises made and to his seed. He saith not. And to his seeds, as of many: but as of one. And to thy seed, which is Christ. Now this I say, that the testament which was confirmed by God, the law which was made after four hundred and thirty years, doth not disannul, to make the promise of no effect. For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise. But God gave it to Abraham by promise. Why then was the law? It was set because of transgressions, until the seed should come, to whom he made the promise, being ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator. Now a mediator is not of one: but God is one. Was the law then against the promises of God? God forbid. For if there had been a law given which could give life, verily justice should have been by the law. But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by the faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. But before the faith came, we were kept under the law shut up, unto that faith which was to be revealed" (Gal. iii. 16-23).

The last sentence, containing the metaphor of children shut up under tutorship -- for such is the meaning of the verse -- gives rise in St. Paul's mind to a new and very beautiful simile, the simile of the pedagogue.

The law is a mere pedagogue, our pedagogue in Christ: faith sets us free from the pedagogue's tutorship, and makes us children of God.

All men are equally privileged through baptism, they are all one in Christ Jesus. The spiritual condition of the Christian is absolutely superior to any other state of morality, and the soul of the Christian enjoys an endless measure of spiritual liberty.

The metaphor is worked out more consecutively than most other metaphors of St. Paul, and the climax of the reasoning is reached quite naturally, culminating as it does in the glorious and well known words:

"And because you are sons, God hath sent the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying: Abba, Father."

Before quoting the full text, I should like to call the reader's attention to the third verse of the fourth chapter, where St. Paul speaks of the condition that preceded the Incarnation as follows:

"So we also, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world."

The Christian's liberation is indeed a deliverance from the elements of the world, as he is superior, through his faith, to the merely natural exigencies of the human condition.

The words to be quoted have again the familiar ring of the Liturgy: they appear in the epistle of the Sunday within the octave of the Nativity, and no doubt they are well known to the ordinary Catholic.

It is a remarkable thing that the Church should lay such stress on our getting acquainted with the great spiritual truth of our freedom in Christ.

"But before the faith came, we were kept under the law shut up, unto that faith which was to be revealed. Wherefore the law was our pedagogue in Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after the faith is come, we are no longer under a pedagogue. For you are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized in Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew, nor Greek: there is neither bond, nor free: there is neither male, nor female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you be Christ's, then are you the seed of Abraham, heirs according to the promise" (Gal. iii. 23 to end).

"Now I say, as long as the heir is a child, he differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all: but is under tutors and governors until the time appointed by the father: So we also, when we were children, were serving under the elements of the world. But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent his Son, made of a woman, made under the law: That he might redeem them who were under the law: that we might receive the adoption of sons.

And because you are sons, God hath sent the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying: Abba, Father. Therefore now he is not a servant, but a son. And if a son, an heir also through God. But then indeed, not knowing God, you served them who, by nature, are not gods" (Gal. iv. 1-8).

The third argument from the Galatians, which makes the sixth of my series, is again part of the Mass Liturgy. I need hardly do more than transcribe it. It is a well known passage, and it embodies once more the idea of the free and gratuitous promise made to Abraham.

St. Paul, for once, stops to give the allegory a connected sequel of thought, when in the twenty-fifth verse of the fourth chapter, from which this quotation is taken, he makes Sina, the Mount in Arabia, the parallel of the earthly Jerusalem, by reason of the geographical affinity. This sixth argument differs from the preceding ones in this, that instead of the individual soul, it is the whole new Jerusalem, the Church, that is the free-woman.

"Tell me, you that desire to be under the law, have you not read the law.? For it is written that Abraham had two sons; the one by a bond-woman, and the other by a free- woman. But he who was of the bondwoman, was born according to the flesh; but of the free-woman was by promise. Which things are said by an allegory; for these are the two testaments. The one from mount Sina, engendering unto bondage: which is Agar.

For Sina is a mountain in Arabia, which hath affinity to that Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children. But that Jerusalem which is above is free: which is our mother. For it is written: Rejoice, thou barren, that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for many are the children of the desolate, more than of her that hath a husband.

Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise. But as then he that was born according to the flesh persecuted him that was after the spirit: so also it is now. But what saith the scripture? Cast out the bond-woman and her son: for the son of the bond-woman shall not be heir with the son of the free-woman. So then, brethren, we are not the children of the bond-woman, but of the free: by the freedom wherewith Christ has made us free" (Gal. iv, 21 to end).

The last argument in favour of Christ's spirituality occurs in the Epistle to the Colossians. It is less well known, and the concluding sentences only are used in the Liturgy as an Easter phraseology. In this passage we again find St. Paul at his best.

It is metaphor within metaphor, it is a playing with light and shade such as only a very poetical mind is capable of. I shall first quote the whole section of the aforesaid epistle appertaining to my subject. I must confess that it would be necessary to transcribe the whole epistle to the Colossians, if one were to give the argument its proper setting; but nothing is easier for my reader than to take up his New Testament himself, and go through this beautiful epistle.

What St. Paul says of Christ's super-eminent spiritual glories in the first chapter, and in the earlier parts of the second chapter, is all meant to lead up to his practical theme, viz. to save his converts from relapsing into lower and false forms of spirituality.

But the argument proper, where the Apostle begins to come to close grips with the enemy, may be said to start at the eighth verse of chapter ii.

"Beware lest any man cheat you by philosophy, and vain deceit: according to the tradition of men, according to the elements of the world, and not according to Christ: For in him dwelleth all fulness of the Godhead corporally: And you are filled in him, who is the head of all principality and power: In whom also you are circumcised with circumcision not made by hand in despoiling of the body of the flesh, but in the circumcision of Christ: Buried with him in baptism, in whom also you are risen again by the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him up from the dead. And you, when you were dead in your sins, and the uncircumcision of your flesh: he hath quickened together with him, forgiving you all offences: Blotting out the handwriting of the decree that was against us, which was contrary to us. And he hath taken the same out of the way, fastening it to the cross: And despoiling the principalities and powers, he hath exposed them confidently in open shew, triumphing over them in himself. Let no man therefore judge you in meat or in drink, or in respect of a festival day, or of the new moon, or of the sabbaths. Which are a shadow of things to come, but the body is of Christ. Let no man seduce you, willing in humility, and religion of angels, walking in the things which he hath not seen, in vain puffed up by the sense of his flesh. And not holding the head, from which the whole body, by joints and bands being supplied with nourishment and compacted, groweth unto the increase of God. If then you be dead with Christ from the elements of this world, why do you yet decree as though living in the world? Touch not, taste not, handle not; Which all are unto destruction by the very use, according to the precepts and doctrines of men. Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in superstition and humility, and not sparing the body: not in any honour to the filling of the flesh" (Col. ii. 8-23).

Therefore, if you be risen with Christ, seek the things that are above: where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God: Mind the things that are above, not the things that are upon the earth. For you are dead: and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ shall appear, who is your life, then you also shall appear with him in glory" (Col. iii. 1-4)

The great liberation from, the "elements of the world" as St. Paul so aptly calls everything that is lower than Christ Himself, is here expressed in five different metaphors amongst which there is one only he has already made use of.

The old circumcision itself, his bête noire, is turned into a thing of beauty. "You are circumcised in the circumcision of Christ".

Then there is the sacrament of baptism, that glorious successor of the old carnal rite. "You are buried with him in Baptism".

It is the idea we found already in the Epistle to the Romans.

The third and fourth metaphors are new, and deeply original, and found nowhere else in St. Paul's writings.

They speak of Christ's absolute triumph over the old order of things, and over the power that swayed the old order.

It is the metaphor of the bill that is fixed on the cross. "Blotting out the handwriting of the decree that was against us, which was contrary to us.

"And he hath taken the same out of the way, fastening it to the cross."

Then there is the triumphal procession, Christ leading all vanquished powers, as their captor, to the Capitol. "And despoiling the principalities and powers, he hath led them confidently in open shew, triumphing over them, in himself."

There is finally the metaphor of the body versus the shadow, which is supplemented by the idea that Christ is the head. "The body is Christ's,

and from the head the whole body by the

joints and bands, being supplied with nourishment, and compacted, groweth into the increase of God."

With such a presentment of Christ's care, and of the soul's nearness to Him, who would still mould his mind by ancient and low standards?

"Why do you yet decree as living in the world?" Let it all depart before the glory of the Easter sun; life in Christ is the only thing worth cherishing. "Therefore if you be risen with Christ, seek the things that are above: where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God: mind the things that are above, not the things that are upon the earth. For you are dead: and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ shall appear, who is your life, then you also shall appear with him in glory " (Col. iii. 1-4).

It might be said without fear of exaggeration that the whole theory of the Christian Mind is contained in the argumentations of St. Paul here set forth before the reader. St. Paul's great contention is that Christ is a heavenly substitute for all law, containing the virtue of all law in Himself, "per modum eminentiae".

All other considerations concerning the nature of the Christian Mind flow from this central thought. The Son of God, Jesus Christ, is such as to incarnate in Himself all the needs, and laws, and hopes, and destinies of man.

The following chapters of my book will be nothing else than an expansion of this root fact of the Incarnation. They will cover practically the whole subject of the Christian Mind, I mean those elements of our higher life which are derived specifically from the Incarnation, though I do not profess to set them forth in a strictly logical order. It is impossible to dissect logically a Personality, and it must always be borne in mind that the Christian Mind is a religious philosophy based on a divine Personality.

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