Saturday, September 01, 2007

"The rank mists which reek upward from the sinful heart do tend most fatally to obliterate the Image, the Memory, the Life of Christ"

“He, my brethren, who having been ordained to the ministry of the Word, stands up to preach the gospel which his Master taught, ought to do so on all occasions with as little fear or misgiving as an ambassador in delivering the message of a king. If he be telling of that which by Faith he has heard and seen, and his hands have handled, of the Word of Life if he not only believe in his inmost soul the truths he utters, but would be ready, if need were, to die for them then his heart should not beat one throb the faster, though, like the Apostles of old, he were standing before Philosophers at Athens or Emperors at Rome.

“...The transcendant majesty and unutterable value of the truths which he maintains the oppressive sense of his own insufficiency the knowledge that many far better and wiser and more learned than him self have been his predecessors, and that many far better and wiser and more learned than himself will listen to his words all these considerations may well paralyse his energy and chill his heart. And yet if he have no other aim than to give a manly reason for the truth that is in him; if, with single-hearted simplicity, he strive to set forth some one fragment at least of those arguments which have wrought in his own soul the strength of its convictions and the security of its hopes, then he may at once take courage.

“...And since, undeniably, the rock on which Christ built His Church has risen unshaken out of the stormiest waves of past assault, we may well feel an undaunted confidence, that even amid the decuman billows of modern scepticism it shall remain immovable as the granite bases of the world. It may be deluged again and again by the fiercely recurrent surge, it may be hidden again and again from the eyes of the multitude by the blinding spray, but it is there; and so long as the feet of the Church militant on earth be planted firm upon that living rock, she may indeed be desolate, she may be wounded, she may be oppressed, but so long we believe and are sure that “the gates of Hell shall not prevail against her.”

“...We are, as it were, in the very focus of the storm. It is not that every now and then there is a burst of thunder, and a glare of lightning; but the whole air is electric with quivering flames. And what is the point around which all the dangers of the storm converge? Not around minor questions...the things unessential respecting which there need be only charity: but the storm now rages about the very Ark of God. It is the Divinity of Christ himself which is called in question, and we are challenged to prove that the most sacred archives of our religion are not a delusion or a lie. Nor is it any longer against this or that treatise that we must defend the most vital principles of Christian doctrine - It is against whole literatures; it is against whole philosophies; it is against the vague doubts of eminent thinkers; it is against the innumerable sneers, the repeated assumptions, the ever-varying criticisms of a powerful and intellectual press...And meanwhile it may fortify us to bear in mind that of these attacks we were from the first forewarned. “This child is set for a sign which shall be spoken against”, said the aged Simeon as he pressed the yet infant Saviour to his heart. His cross from the first was to the Jews a stumblingblock, and to the Greeks foolishness; His earliest Apostles were denounced as “pestilent fellows and ring leaders of sedition”; His Gospel was stigmatised by haughty historians as an “exitiabilis superstitio” (pernicious superstition); and His self-denying children in their purest and sweetest days were distinguished by this fact only, that “everywhere they were spoken against”.

“...while we utterly condemn in religious controversy the mixture of moral innuendo with intellectual proof, we are justified as a warning to our own hearts, no less than those of others, in asserting the undeniable truth that sometimes, though not necessarily, and in some instances, though not in all, the first rills of heresy have flowed from the bitter fountains of a perverse will or a corrupted heart. It remains as true now as in the days of the Apostles that “the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God”, and that “spiritual things must be spiritually discerned.” The voice from heaven saying “This is my beloved Son” sounded to most of those who heard it but as the dull roll of the thunder; to some only as the unintelligible voice of an angel; to very few as the distinct and articulate utterance of God...Oh my brethren, we may lose our faith in Christ from many causes, and from some which it is not for fallible man to denounce or to condemn; but it is well for us to know there is undoubtedly one path which leads with dangerous frequency from practical faithlessness to speculative infidelity; from the “Yea, hath God said” to the “Ye shall not surely die.” Let us then at least beware that in us unholiness do not cloud the spiritual eye and dull the spiritual ear: for the rank mists which reek upward from the sinful heart do tend most fatally to obliterate the Image, the Memory, the Life of Christ -- they end by hiding from the human soul even the vision of its Creator in fold on fold of a more and more impenetrable night.” – Frederick Farrar, “The Witness of History to Christ”, pp. 3-11 (1870).


Brian said...

I have no idea what I just read.

Breuss Wane said...

This is a challenge from Farrar to fellow pastors and theologians to defend the truth over against the emergence of liberalism which denied the deity of Christ.

Farrar also believes that the denial of the deity of Christ in his day could be traced to those who were corrupt in their soul... those who with evil intent denied Christ. He is painting this war between truth and apostasy with the starkest of terms.

What's interesting about this is that Farrar was considered in his day a liberal (known for his denial of eternal retribution). Apparently there are some core, basic truths even someone like Farrar couldn't stomach.