The Reason And Nature Of Christ’s Sufferings -- By: Samuel W. Howland

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 062:247 (Jul 1905)
Article: The Reason And Nature Of Christ’s Sufferings
Author: Samuel W. Howland


The Reason And Nature Of Christ’s Sufferings

Prof. Samuel W. Howland

General Washington once said, “Men’s minds are as variant as their faces.” Our visions of truth are as variant as our minds; but truth is one, and the comparison of the many gives the better grasp of the truth. Emerson said, “Our knowledge is the amassed thought and experience of innumerable minds.” Innumerable minds have put their best thought—to say nothing of experience—on this subject, and we should profit by the result. There is no subject more important than this, for it lies at what should be the very heart of all our preaching, as well as of our experience, and, unless our position on this is right, all our work must be seriously affected. Rightly apprehended, it is not only the very shrine of our lives, and the key to every problem, and the crown of all teaching, but it is the center from which and to which all paths of thought should lead. And it will be necessary in this discussion to note at least the trend of some of these paths.

I may seem to some almost sacrilegious in the wording of my subject, as if the sufferings of our Lord were too sacred for analysis and discussion, and we ought rather to veil our faces in reverential awe. But analysis is helpful to knowledge, and so may help even reverence, for ignorance is not the mother of true devotion, but knowledge is the wing wherewith we fly to heaven. The botanist is blamed for destroying the beauty of

the flower, when he tears it to pieces for analysis, yet the apparently ruthless botanist knows and appreciates the flower’s beauty better than others do. The microscope and scalpel may not reveal the soul, but they make manifest more perfectly the beauty that life enshrines in form; so discriminating analysis, though it will not create the flame of love that springs responsive to the love of God, may add new power to that love in the life. Objection has been made here to approaching such a subject from the side of philosophy; but philosophy is the reason of things, and the objection properly lies only against false philosophy. A reasonable being adds to his knowledge, and so to his power, by discerning reasons, which is philosophizing, on any subject,—much more on this most important subject.

Again, it has been said that induction should be used rather than deduction. But one cannot be complete without the other. Our deductions from supposed intuitive principles must be verified by all the facts, and our inductions from facts must be confirmed by the intuitions of reason. Either is unsafe alone, and it makes little difference with which we begin if each has its full share in the process. Yet, again, we have been told ...

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