The first imaginary Christ of this age seems to be a sort of religious myth or good angel -- a being of the imagination who lived in the long distance, and who does very well to preach, write, and sing about, or to make pictures about, with which to adorn people's dwellings -- a kind of religious Julius Caesar, who did wonderful things ages ago, and who is somehow or other going to benefit in the future those who intellectually believe in Him now; but as to helping man in his present need, guilt, bondage, or agony, they never even pretend that He does anything of the kind. This Christ makes no difference in them or their lives; they live precisely as their neighbors do, only that they profess to believe in this Christ while their neighbors do not. Now this is not the Christ represented in the New Testament. The Christ of God was a real veritable person, who walked about, and taught, and communicated with men; who helped and saved them from their evil appetites and passions, and who promised to keep on doing so to the end of the world; who called His followers to come out from the evil and sin of the world to follow Him, carrying His cross, obeying His words, and consecrating themselves to the same purposes for which He lived and died; seeking always to overcome evil with good, and to breast the swelling tide of human passion and opposition with meekness, patience, and love; promising to be in them an Almighty Divine presence, renovating and renewing the whole man, and empowering them to walk in His footsteps. I am afraid there are thousands who sit in our churches and chapels and hear the modern Christ descanted on, who, if asked their idea of Christ, would be utterly at a loss to give it. They have no definite conception of what His name or being means. They would not like to say whether He is in heaven or on earth. If asked whether He had done anything for them personally, they cannot tell; the most they say is that they hope so, or that they hope He will do something some day. He is to them a mere idea. Another false but very common view of Christ in these days is that He is a sort of divine make-weight. You will hear people say, when spoken to about their souls, "Yes, I know I am very weak and sinful, but I am doing the best I can, and Jesus is my Saviour; He will make up what I lack." In these instances there is not even the recognition of the necessity of pardon, much less of the power of Christ to renew the soul in righteousness, and to fit it for the holy employments and companionships of heaven. This Christ is simply dragged at the tail, not only of human effort but of human failure, and offered, as it were, in the arms of an impudent presumption, as a make-up in the scale of human deserts. And yet how many thousands of church and chapel-going people, it is to be feared, are deluded by supposing that this imaginary Christ will meet the needs of their souls before the judgment bar of God. To others this imaginary Christ is only a superior human being, a beautiful example -- the most beautiful the world has ever seen; not Divine, yet the nearest to our conception of the Divine which even they think possible, but only human still. This Christ is held up as the embodiment of all that is noble, true, self-sacrificing and holy -- an example of what we are to be, but supplying no power by which to conform ourselves to the model. I frequently find that the people who make so much ado about the example of Christ are the furthest from following it. They say it is not intended to be followed literally. But how else can you imitate anyone? How can an example be followed figuratively? Alas! the admirers of this human Christ make it sadly manifest in their lives and experience that humanity needs not only a model, but an inspiring presence to restore its lost balance, energize its feeble faculties, and rekindle its spiritual aspirations. Conceiving only of a human model, the paralyzed soul finds no higher source of strength than its own desires and resolutions, and after the oft-repeated experiment at self-deliverance, sinks at length overwhelmed with a sense of failure and despair. It is not in man or angel, however sublime, to free the human soul from its fetters of realized guilt, or to empower it for the reconquest of that Eden of righteousness and peace from which the avenging angel of justice once expelled it. A human Christ is only a phantom of the imagination, an ignis fatuus. Another modern representation of the Christ is that of a substitutionary Saviour, -- not in the sense of atonement merely, but in the way of obedience. This Christ is held up as embodying in Himself the sum and substance of the sinner's salvation, needing only to be believed in, that is, accepted by the mind as the atoning Sacrifice, and trusted in as securing for the sinner all the benefits involved in His death, without respect to any inwrought change in the sinner himself. This Christ is held up as a justification and protection in sin, not as a deliverer from sin. Men and women are assured that no harm can overtake them if they believe in this Christ, whatever may be the state of their hearts, or however they may, in their actions, outrage the laws of righteousness and truth. In other words, men are taught that Christ obeyed the law for them, not only as necessary to the efficacy of His atonement for their justification, but that He has placed His obedience in the stead of, or as a substitution for, the sinner's own obedience or sanctification, which in effect is like saying, Though you may be untrue, Christ is your truth; though you may be unclean, Christ is your chastity; though you may be dishonest, Christ is your honesty; though you may be insincere, Christ is your sincerity. The outcome of such a faith only produces outwardly the whited sepulchers of profession, while within are rottenness and dead men's bones. The Christ of God never undertook to perform any such offices for His people, but He did undertake to make them "new creatures," and thus to enable them to perform them for themselves. He never undertook to be true instead of me, but to make me true to the very core of my soul. He never undertook to make me pass for pure, either to God or man, but to enable me to be pure. He never undertook to make me pass for honest or sincere, but to renew me in the spirit of my mind so that I could not help but be both, as the result of the operation of His Spirit within me. He never undertook to love God instead of my doing so with "all my heart and mind and soul and strength," but He came on purpose to empower and inspire me to do this. The idea of a substitutionary Christ accepted as an outward covering or refuge, instead of the power of "an endless life," is a cheat of the devil, and has been the ruin of thousands of souls. I fear this view of Christ, so persistently preached in the present day, encourages thousands in a false hope while they are living in sin, and consequently under the curse not only of a broken law, but of a Saviour denied and abjured. Let me ask you, my hearers, what sort of a Christ is yours? Have you a Christ who saves you, who renews your heart, who enables you to live in obedience to God, or are you looking to this outside and imaginary Christ to do your obeying for you? Another false idea of Christ, entertained, I fear, by multitudes of sincere souls, is that of a Divine condemnation. This class of people seem to think that they ought to spend all their lives bewailing and bemoaning their sins, and are forever crying out, "Oh, wretched man that I am," "Christ have mercy on us, miserable sinners"; and they go on crying this every day of their lives. They forget that He of whom Moses and the prophets did write, is come. They forget that the deliverer is here that. pardon is offered, and that he is ready to witness it and fill their souls with peace and joy. If Christ be only for condemnation, what are these poor souls advantaged by His coming? what has He done more than the law did, for them? The law made them realize their bondage, writhe under a sense of their Sills, and set them longing after freedom and deliverance. It was their schoolmaster (or should have been) to bring them to Christ -- Christ, the Son, who was to make them free; but alas! in this case He is made a much harder schoolmaster than the law itself, for these poor souls get no deliverance, no peace, no joy, or power. They are always piping Paul's bewailing notes, in which he personified a convicted sinner, struggling under the fetters of condemnation. But they never get into his triumphant notes, where he declares, "there is now no condemnation." This false view of Christ has led to most of the idolatries, penances, and lacerations of Catholicism. The exhibition of a Christ too unsympathetic and implacable to be approached without a second intercessor -- a far-off, austere judge, rather than a pitying, pardoning Saviour, -- - has kept millions of poor souls in bondage all their lives. I must say, however, that I have more sympathy with such souls, because they are sincere, and earnest, and willing to deny themselves, in order to find the right way, than with those who thoughtlessly take refuge under any of the false representations of Christ to which we have referred. Still, there are many earnest souls left, who continue to cry over their sins as though no deliverer had come. The Christ of God came not to bring condemnation but pardon, peace, and gladness to every penitent sinner on the face of the earth. I heard, the other day, a story which beautifully illustrates this: A poor Catholic woman, who had been in bondage all her life to a sense of guilt, and had earnestly sought by all the methods prescribed by her Church, especially by devotion to the Virgin Mary, to find peace and deliverance, when on her death-bed was brought into contact with one who had in reality found the Christ of God, and who was enabled to show to this poor trembling soul the sufficiency of His sacrifice, and His willingness to pardon and to purify. Through the influence of the Spirit of God which accompanied this exhibition of the true Christ, she was enabled to rest her soul on Him, and immediately entered into rest. Shortly afterwards her priest presented himself at her bedside, when she accosted him with the words, "Oh, you are too late, too late, I have found a better Priest than you, and He has absolved me. I am happy, happy, happy!" Glory! The Christ of God is not a condemnatory Christ, but a pitying, pardoning Saviour, calling to His bosom the weary and heavy laden in all ages. Another of these false views of Christ is that which presents Him as a future deliverer, without being a present Saviour. It is to be feared that thousands are looking to Him to save them from the consequences of sin that is, hell, -- who continue to commit sin; they utterly misunderstand the aim and work of the Christ of God. They do not see that He came not merely to bring men to heaven, but to bring them back into harmony with His Father; they look upon the atonement as a sort of make-shift plan by which they are to enter heaven, leaving their characters unchanged on earth. They forget that sin is a far greater evil in the Divine estimation than hell; they do not see that sin is the primal evil. If there were no sin there need he no hell. God only proposes to save people from the consequences of sin by saving them from the sin itself; and this is the great distinguishing work of Christ to save his people from their sins! cont`d...to The True Christ!