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§ 115. The Calling of Nathanael.

In the case of a John, the full impression of Christ’s personality, first received, prepared the depths of his youthful soul for sudden and 165separate impressions of the Divinity of Jesus, which soon brought him to a complete decision. But the narrow prejudices of a Nathanael had to be overcome by a separate supernatural sign before he could receive the impression of Christ’s manifestation and nature as a whole When Philip first announced to him that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah, he expressed both surprise and incredulity that any thing so high should come forth from a corner like Galilee. Instead of discussing the point, Philip appeals to his own experience, and tells him to “come and see.” Nathanael’s prejudice was not strong enough to prevent his compliance, or to hinder him from being convinced by facts. Christ sees and esteems his love of truth, and receives him with the words, “Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no guile” (a true and honest-hearted member of the Theocratic nation). The candid youth is surprised to find himself known by a stranger. He expresses his astonishment, and Christ increases the impression made upon his feelings, by a more striking proof still of his supernatural knowledge, telling him that his glance, piercing the barriers of space, had rested on him before Philip called him as he stood “under the fig-tree” (this probably had some reference to the thoughts which occupied his mind under the fig-tree). His prejudices are readily removed [he acknowledged Christ as “Son of God and King of Israel”]; Christ admits that he is in the first stage of faith,256256   See p. 138. but tells him that his faith must develope itself from this beginning, and advance to a higher aim (John, i., 50, 51). A faith thus resting on a single manifestation might easily be perplexed by some other single one, that might not meet its expectations. That is a genuine faith (according to Christ) which carries itself to the very central-point of revelation, seizes the intuition of Divinity in its immediate nature and manifestation as a whole, and obtains, through immediate contact with the Divine in the Spirit, a standpoint which doubt can never reach. Nathanael was to see “greater things” than this isolated ray of the supernatural. He was to see the “heavens opened upon the Son of Man,” into whose intimacy he was about to enter, and “Angels of God ascending and descending” upon him. He was to learn Christ in his true relation to the developement of humanity, as Him through whom human nature was to be glorified; through whom the locked-up heavens were again to be opened; the communion with heaven and earth restored; to whom and from whom all the powers of heaven were to flow. Such was to be his Divine glory in its full manifestation; all other signs were but individual tokens of it.

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