Слике страница
PDF
ePub

CHRISTIANITY. CHRISTIANITY. krist-yắn'i-: the religion which centres in Christ Jesus--comprising doctrine and precept as divinely given or authenticated through Christ, and human belief and life as adjusted primarily to him and controlled by him. In common usage, however, C. often means the doctrinal and ethical system set forth in the New Testament. For the principal parts of the system and evidences of C., see their respective titles.

C. comes to man with a claim to be received as of divine origin. It is no product of the human mind, but has for its author the living God, whom it sets before us as the ob-? ject of worship. It is consequently altogether exclusive; it claims to be deemed the only true religion—the truth and admits of no compromise or alliance with any other system, though it is far from denying the separate truths or the fragmentary goodness which may appear in other systems.

C. cannot be viewed as distinct from the religion of the Jews and of the patriarchs; it is the game religion devel. oped according to its own inherent law, and accommodated to new circumstances; there has been a change of dispensation only. In studying either the system or the evidences of c. we are compeiled continually to revert from the New Testament to the Old, and must in some measure trace the history of the true or revealed religion through the previous and preparatory dispensations.

The whole system of C. may be regarded as having its foundation in the doctrine of the existence of one God: see God. Next to this may be placed the doctrine of the Fall (q.v.) ɔf Man. Man is represented as involved in misery, because in sin (q.v.)-original and actual--and every indi. vidual of the human race as estranged from (or as naturally involved in estrangment from) the service and fellowship of God, obnoxious to the displeasure of God, and liable to punishment in a future and eternal state of being: see PUNISHMENT, FUTURE. At this point comes into view the doctrine of the ATONEMENT (q.v.)--a doctrine taught in all the sacrifices (see SACRIFICE) of the patriarchal and Jewish dispensations, as well as by the words of inspired teachers; and whose necessity is shadowed forth in the systems of paganism. Man being utterly incapable of effecting his own deliverance from sin and misery, God sent his Son to save sinners, to deliver them from hell, to make them holy, and to re-establish them as God's children, partakers of his own eternal life, whose consummation in them is to be the eternal joy and glory of heaven.

By those who regard Christ as a mere creature, atonemeri or reconciliation with God is made to depend on the repentance of man as its immediate cause; while the life and death of Christ are represented as merely an example for man of obedience, virtue, and piety in the most trying circumstances; the doctrines of man's estate of ruin in sin, of a divine redeeming sacrifice, and of a profound moral and spiritual renewal of man's nature after the likeness of the Son of God-called by Christ, being born again ' with all that form part of the same system, falling com

CHRISTIANITY. pietely and necessarily to the ground. These doctrines, however, are all consistently maintained in connection with the Scriptural doctrine of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit-one God; and with the generally-received doctrine as to the person of Christ: see CHRIST: TRINITY. The very incarnation (q.v.) of the Son of God is regarded as a glorious display of the divine condescen. sion and loving kindness toward sinners, and as a wonderful exaltation of human nature, while a personal enjoy. ment of the highest dignity and bliss of which humanity is capable, in the favor and fellowship of God for ever, is to be attained by faith in Jesus Christ. See Faith: JUSTIFICATION.

The indissoluble connection between faith and salvation arises from the divine appointments, but is also of the nature of an essential harmony, or even unity, of the two, and therefore secures a moral harmony; inasmuch as it provides for bringing into operation—in accordance with the intellectual and moral nature of man-of most powerful and excellent motives for all that is morally good, the partakers of salvation being thus fitted for the fellowship of him into whose favor they are received; and inasmuch also es it prevents the possibility of any of them taking to themselves, or giving to others, the glory of that salvation which they really owe to Christ, and which they with joy. ful gratitude ascribe only to him.

Salvation is ascribed, in the Christian system, to the grace of God. The mission of Christ was an act of supreme grace; and all must be ascribed to grace for which man is indebted to Christ. The doctrine of grace, however, is a part of the system of C, on which important differences subsist, especi. ally as to the relation of the grace of God to individual men. Such are the differences concerning ELECTION (q.v.), and concerning the origin of faith, and man's ability or inability to believe of himself. But with whatever minor variations of doctrine, in any system recognizable as Christian, the personal relation of the believer to Cbrist, and his faith in Christ, 'are ascribed to the Holy Ghost or Spirit of God, and 80 to the grace of God: see ARMINIUS: CALVINISM: PELAGIUS.

In the view of all who hold the doctrine of the Trinity in its scriptural statement, the doctrine concerning the Spirit of God are a very important part of the Christian system. To the agency of the Holy Spirit, who may be viewed as God in bis full personal efficiency, besides all that is ascribed to Him concerning the human nature of Christ, the world is indebted for all that is spiritually good in man; the Spirit, in the economy of grace, being sent by the Father, through the mediation and on the intercession of Christ, to communicate the bless. ings purchased by the Son of God in his obedience and death: see HOLY SPIRIT.

Salvation, or the eternal life given by the Holy Spirit through Christ, begins on earth; and whenever a man believes on Cbrist (not with the intellect merely, but with the heart, including love and discipleship), he is a partaker of it—is in a state of salvation. It is essential in the Calvinistic sys. CHRISTIANITY. tem (though neither this nor any other buman system is to be identified with Christianity) that he wbo is in a state of salvation always remains so, and that the salvation begun on earth is in every case made perfect in heaven: see PERSEVERANCE OF SAINTS. In Christianity generally saivation is viewed as beginning in REGENERATION (4.v.), and as carried on in SANCTIFICATION (q.v.), and all its joys as connected with the progress of sanctification. Faith in Jesus Christ cannot be unaccompanied with repentance, and repent. ance is always renewed when the exercise of faith is renewed. For though all believers are called saints or holy, as set apart to God and in contrast to what they previously were, yet there is none in this life free from sin; the successful tempter of our first parents, who assailed our Savior with temptation and was defeated, being still the active enemy.of men, against whom believers in Jesus Christ are called to conterd, to watch, and to pray: see DEVIL. The sense of responsibility belongs to human nature; and the doctrine of a judg. ment (q.v.) to come may be considered as to a certain extent a doctrine of natural religion; and some doctrine of a future life has formed a part of many pagan systems (see IMMORTALITY); but the clear and distinct enunciation of these truths is due to Christ alone, who brirgs immortality to light in the resurrection (q.v.) of the dead.

The mortal part of C. is as harmonious with the doctrinal as it is inseparable from it; it is founded upon the eternal attributes of God, and is perfectly illustrated in the character of Jesus Christ. It is divisible into two great parts-one, the love of God; and the other, the love of man, or of our selves and our neighbors: see LAW, MORAL.

The means of grace, or of the attainment of the blessings of salvation, are important in the Christian system. Of theset be WORD OF GOD-or divine revelation contained in the Bible (q.v)—first claims attention, as the means of conversion to Christ, and of edification in Christ, the instrument by which salvation is both begun and carried on in men. The ordinances of God's worsbip are among the means of grace. Thus prayer (q.v.) is one of the chief means of grace. Christ's ordinances of Baptism and of tle communion at His table-commonly called sacraments (q.v.) though this term is nowhere applied to them in the New Testament—are rich means of grace, concerning the precise use of which, and their relative importance as compared with the other means considerable difference of opinion prevails among Christians. The same remark applies also to the combination of Christians into an organized body or community, the Church (q.v.), with its laws or system of church-order: see CHURCH GOVERNMENT.

Within this outline of the general Christianity have arisen many controversies on particular points; for the principal of these, see the respective titles.

The truth of C. is established by many different evidences, distinct and independent, but mutually corroborative. It appeals to reason, and demands to have its claim examined and admitted, when found to stand all proper tests. Nor is there any faith where there is not a mental conviction which

CHRISTIAN KNOWLEDGE. is capable of being justified on an appeal to sound reasoning

The evidences of C. are generally divided into two great classes, internal and external-the fornier consisting of those which are found in the nature of the Christian system itself, and in its adaptation to the nature and wants of man; the latter, of those which are derived from other sources. The boundary between the two classes, however, is not so distinct in reality as it appears in the definition of the terms. Of the multitude of books which have been written on the subject of the evidences of C. some are devoted mainly to one of these classes, and some to the other; while some are occupied with the development of particular evidences or arguments, and some with the refutation of objections, and in particular of what may be called a prelimivary objectionthat a divine revelation can never be established by sufficient evidence at all: see REVELATION.

The evidence of miracles (q.v.) and the evidence of proph. ecy (9.v.), are two of the principal branches of the exierDal evidences of C. Another argument, which has been much elaborated-for example, in Paley's Evidences--is derived from the character and sufferings of the apostles and other first preachers of C.; their high moral worth, with their great earnestness and devotedness; the absence of all possibility of seltish or base motives; and, at the same time, their perfect opportunity of knowing the truth of the facts which they proclaimed. A subsidiary argument is found in the admission of the great facts regarding Jesus of Nazareth, by the early opponents of Christianity. A most important and valuable argument is found in the perfect coherence of all the parts of the Christian system, and in the agreement, as to the religion which they teach, of all the books of Scripture, notwithstanding the widely different dates of their composition, and their very different nature in other respects: see Bible. The relation of the Jewish ceremonies to the doctrines of C. supplies another argument of this kind, capable of being developed in a multitude of particulars. The minor coincidences between the different books of Scripture have been pointed out with happy effect in the Horu Paulina of Paley, and in other works. The charac. ter of our Savior supplies an argument of the grandest. power; the impossibility of the invention of such a charac: ter, and of the history in which it is exbibited, by any effort of human genius, is also urged as corroborative; and the in. consistency of the morality displayed with the supposition of imposture has been dwelt upon with the same view. The excellency, both of the doctrinal and of the moral part of the system of C., its elevating and purifying tendency, the agreement of its doctrine with the evident facts of human sinfulness and misery, and the suitable provision which it makes for the deepest wants of which he is conscious, are principal branches of the internal evidence of its truth. The effects of C., where it has prevailed, supply a confirmatory argument in its favor, which Las formed the subject of works of great learning and interest.

CHRISTIAN KNOWLEDGE, SOCIETY FOR PROMOT

CHRISTIAN NAME. ING: oldest of the great religious associations connected with the Church of England. It was founded 1698, though it did not receive its present name till 1701; and had for its object: '1. To promote and encourage the erecting of charity schools in all parts of England and Wales. 2. To disperse, both at home and abroad, Bibles and tracts of religion; and, in general, to advance the honor of God, and the good of mankind, by promoting Christian knowledge, both at home and in other parts of the world, by the best methods that should offer.' These objects it has never ceased to pursue, directing its efforts chietiy to the British dominions; partaking at once of the nature of an educational association, a missionary soc., a Bible soc., and a religious tract soc; and notwithstanding the operations of other great societies in these several departments of Christian benevolence, its revenue amounts to about £100,000 a year. The profit on the bookselling department alone in 1880–81 was over £6,000. The Protestant missionaries who labored in the s. of India in last century were supported chietly by this society, which has also established many Christian schools.

CHRISTIAN NAME: see NAME.

« ПретходнаНастави »