The Universal Christ

"The resurrection gives us a Christ who is spiritually present; the Holy Spirit gives us a Christ who is universally present. By the coming of the Holy Spirit the risen Christ is made omnipresent, and the whole process of revelation here and now completed. Nothing higher can be looked for until the veil is dropped on the other side. Momentous consequences follow the acceptance of this truth. If the age of the Spirit under which we are now living marks the final outgoing of God to man; if the God who is manifested in Christ is every-where present in the Spirit; if through the medium-ship of the Spirit he dwells in the inner sanctuary of the soul; if he is not only with man, but in man; if through the Holy Spirit his presence within the soul is realized as the presence of Christ, then the time foretold by Jesus has come when temples and shrines are no longer indispensable, when every man has immediate access to God as the Father, and when every humble receptive soul may become "an habitation of God in the Spirit." "
- James Mann Campbell (The Presence, p. 89)

The New Covenant Gift of the Spirit

"Let us recall the three considerations that have been
mentioned. First, that our Lord Himself in His Divine-human nature was on earth, and is now in heaven, possessed of the fulness of the Spirit, and this in such a manner that the Spirit entered into all He was in the one sphere, and enters into all He is in the other. Secondly, that the Spirit given us by our Lord in His glorified condition is His own Spirit in the most definite and particular meaning of the words. Thirdly, that when the Spirit is bestowed upon us He must be made inwardly and experimentally ours, entering into all that we are in a manner similar to that in which He entered into all that Jesus was and is. Let us fix these three points distinctly in our minds, and it will follow that the Spirit promised as the chief gift of the New Covenant is pervaded by human as well as Divine elements. As the Spirit of the exalted and glorified Lord, He is not the Third Person of the Trinity in His absolute and metaphysical existence, but that Person as He is mediated through the Son, who is human as well as Divine. It is on this particular aspect of His being that He diffuses Himself through the members of Christ's body, and abides in them. Only as human, entering into and coalescing with what is human, can He be also our Spirit dwelling in a living and real way within us."
- William Milligan (The Ascension and Heavenly Priesthood of Our Lord, p. 189)

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Christ is witness and leader and commander to mankind, part 3 of 4

"Behold, I have given him for a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander to the peoples."—Isaiah lv. 4.

   "Then, after witness, Christ is given as leader. As witness He speaks of the eternal and spiritual facts: as leader He imparts the inspiration which enables us to realise and be true to them. As we see the Christ before us, there emerge into view lofty conceptions of human life and destiny, great significances which our existence may come to have, high and worthy thoughts of what we can and ought to be. But not only so. As we see the Christ before us, there rushes upon us too the spirit of power to turn all these things into practical realities: we not only behold them afar off and hope for them and long for them, but we rise up with the determination that they must be attained and the consciousness that under His inspiration we can attain them: He not only bears testimony to these great spiritual thoughts and ideals, but He leads us into them. Together with the revelation of great hopes for man and great facts which concern man, comes also the consciousness that the revelation of the great hopes and the great facts is an intensely practical matter, and not a vague and shadowy dream. The Christ who brings the hitherto distant and unknown worlds into our view sets Himself before us as the guide to take us there. Witness is He, but leader too.
    Many have been witnesses in their degree, but as it were witnesses of far-off dreams which they could not assist man to realise. The witness-bearing and the leadership do not always or often go together. Poets have sung and seers have prophesied of many a paradise whereinto humanity might enter and find rest: many and glorious have been the dreams men have dreamt about the perfecting and redeeming of themselves and of their fellow-men; but there has lacked the mysterious something in poem and prophecy and dream which like an electric flash might pass into the soul and make men feel, "That thing can be done and that vision can be realised, and I can do it and realise it." And the bearing of such witness only leaves men the more downcast and despairing: to paint for them the glories of a life which can never be theirs and of a destiny they can never attain is but a doubtful blessing; and it were better to leave them in a darkness to which no visions come than to vex and perturb their hearts with visions and fancies wholly vain. But it is the unique glory of Christ that, for every word of the witness He bears to our life's possible greatness, He gives also the practical inspiration which makes us strong to attain the greatness of which He speaks. We look on Him, and He bears witness to the loftiest spiritual facts and sacred realities—but we look on Him once more, and, so long as the sight of Him remains, we know that the sacred realities may be ours. He bears witness, for instance, to God, and to the fact that because we are God's children it is our privilege and our duty to be in our degree as God is and to share in our degree all that God possesses. And that conception of human life dwarfs—dwarfs utterly and makes contemptible—any and every other conception of it that thought can entertain. But vast as it is, as we look upon the Christ the rush of power and inspiration comes beneath which we know we can be and shall be truly children of God, measureless as the significance of being children of God is. He leads us into sonship, as well as bears witness to us that we are or ought to be sons. He never presents an ideal, but He gives also the consciousness that it can be realised: He never brings into view some sacred aim only to withdraw it again as being too remote for our reaching; and always, when He lifts His voice as witness to speak of life's high meaning and life's glorious destiny, He lifts also His beckoning hand as leader to bid us be of good courage and press on.
    There is nothing more remarkable than the fact that, while the Christly ideals and meanings of life are the most transcendent and noble possible, nobody feels and nobody seriously suggests that they are unpractical. In the Christ who speaks to us of such great things we recognise instinctively the power and inspiration which is sufficient for such great things. Usually ideals have to be lowered for practice. "Yes, that is what we should like to be, or that is what we should like to do. But we must work for something lower to begin with. That is too much to hope for." But not so here. Higher than anywhere else thought or aspiration has dared to soar is the view of life and life's meaning and life's destiny to which the Christ bears witness; and yet not in any one particular is it only to be talked about and dreamt about, but in every particular to be realised by those who will lay themselves open to the Christ's inspiration and who will follow where He leads. Behold, He is given as a leader to the peoples! In Him who bears the testimony abides for our taking the inspiration and the strength.
    We forget sometimes that in everything whereof Christ speaks, He wants to lead us on. We hear the voice which tells of the highest things, but we don't see the beckoning hand which invites us to the highest things. We are awake to the witness, but we don't put ourselves under the leadership. Yet we should prepare ourselves to follow on into all blessedness whereof our Christ speaks to us, else the witness He bears remains as a reproach to our lowness and sluggishness. The loftiest thoughts and hopes and aspirations which Christ imparts are only given that we may translate them into the actualities of our days. We can so translate them, if we take the inspiration for the doing of it from Him. He bears the witness: then He leads us forward till the things whereto the witness has been borne are true for us and in us. If the witness touches us and holds us and compels our faith in it, it is our part to follow the leading too.
    Christ is leader."

- Henry William Clark (Meanings and Methods of the Spiritual Life, pgs. 45-49)

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