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element in spiritual perception is the sense of mystery. Just as many common words have a long history behind them, and are charged with associations reaching far back into antiquity, so many incidents of ordinary human experience, and a fortiori the facts recorded in sacred history, are rightly regarded as embodying and illustrating eternal truths and principles. On this subject it would be premature to enlarge at this point. It is enough for the present to draw attention to the significance of St. Luke's statement, Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures. It was after the resurrection, when the Lord Jesus had passed into the world of mystery that lies beyond death-it was then that He opened the eyes of His chosen disciples to the infinite depth of Scripture, teaching them that the things of the Spirit can only be spiritually discerned1, and that the written word contains a revelation which needs to be approached with the same sense of insufficiency wherewith in the days of His flesh Christ would have had men approach Himself. We know by sad experience that the mere literary or scientific study of Scripture has often left us utterly dark and barren. The real moments of insight and spiritual elevation, when our hearts burned within us, were those in which we were conscious that we were walking with the risen Christ in the way, and holding communion with Him, while he opened to us the scriptures 2. Thus we have proved the truth of St. Paul's aphorism, If any man think that he knoweth anything, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know. But if any man love God, the same is known of him3.

Our task in the present day seems to be that of mediation between opposed methods of Scriptural interpretation. While we welcome gladly and eagerly, in spite of the temporary pain and perplexity which it

errors in detail as to judge of the capabilities of inductive science from Bacon's "Theory of heat." 11 Cor. ii. 14. 2 Luke xxiv. 32. 3 I Cor. viii. 2, 3.

costs us, all the light that historical research and critical learning can throw upon the structure and literary form of the Old Testament, we shall reverently endeavour to do justice to methods of using Scripture which the apostles and saints of Jesus Christ have taught us to be profitable and based on true conceptions of the character of the written word. In this concluding lecture of our series we shall consider, first, the light which is shed on the Old Testament by its employment in the New; and, secondly, the function which the Old Testament seems designed to fulfil under our present circumstances. In a word, we shall attempt an inquiry into the present use of the Old Testament in the Christian Church.


Speaking generally, the New Testament seems to ascribe to the Old Testament three main characteristics:

1. First, it insists on the fragmentary character of the revelation contained in it. The divine self-communication to man was made in many parts (Tоλνμερŵя). It was a process which had many different stages, in each of which however the continuity of revelation was maintained. This is tantamount to saying that the New Testament embodies what has been called 'a strictly historical conception' of the Old1. The new religion recognized that it was rooted in the ancient dispensation, and that each epoch in the sacred history of Israel had been a preparation for the next. There was no single stage at which the ultimate purpose of God for the world was discerned in its completeness. Types and prophecies were alike fragmentary: each foreshadowed one aspect of a vast and intricate scheme yet to be disclosed, a scheme complex as the universe and wide as human life. At

1 Sanday, The Oracles of God, p. 141.

each point in the progressive movement of the world's education faith might have discerned a divine thought. Accordingly the New Testament constantly draws attention to the fact that the utterance contained in the Old Testament is the voice of God. What proceeded from the mouth of the prophets was spoken of the Lord; the promises to the patriarchs, the tokens of guidance which they followed, were alike vouchsafed by Him2; the commandments of the Mosaic Law came from Him; by Him were foretold the blessings of the Messianic age. Indeed throughout the whole period of the preparatory dispensation there was a continuous self-communication of the Holy Spirit to man, a progressive unveiling of His purposes, a constant indication of His requirement. But revelation was at each stage only partial and incomplete. It has been well said that the Bible supplies a rule that is constantly improving on itself, and that later editions of the rule are intended to antiquate the earlier 6. The New Testament in fact already sets us the example which modern criticism has enforced-that of reading the Old Testament with discrimination, with readiness to judge the part in the light of the whole, and to recognize in each fragment its true, but not more than its true, value and function in relation to the entire organism of which it forms a part.

2. Again, the New Testament contrasts with the simplicity and singleness of God's self-revelation in His incarnate Son the variety of methods by which He manifested Himself to His ancient people. God spake to the fathers in many fashions (TоAUTрóπws) as well as in many parts; and this statement implies that the different portions of the Old Testament are not all to be used in the same way: we are not to confound law with history, prophecy with fact, dreams with waking

Matt. i. 22; ii. 15.

3 Matt. xv. 4.


2 Acts iii. 25; vii. 2, 3.

4 2 Cor. vi. 16 foll.; Heb. i. 5 foll.; v. 5 foll.; vii. 21. 5 Acts xxviii. 25; Heb. iii. 7; ix. 8; x. 15.

Bruce, Apologetics, p. 323. Cp. the language of Heb. viii. 13.

realities, poetical anticipations with typical events. Accordingly, we have to be careful as to the extent to which we insist on the historical element in the Old Testament as literal fact. We may occasionally be in danger of misusing what was given us for another purpose. Anticipations of the Messiah and of His work may not only have been foreshadowed in historical fact, but may also have inspired literary creations. Thus there are incidents recorded in the Old Testament respecting which a large latitude of opinion is surely desirable. Some, for instance, may regard the story of Jonah as literally true; others see good reason for finding in it an allegorical narrative written with a didactic purpose. In any case it is certain that the word πоλντρóπs warns us against dogmatic statements as to what must be the nature of different Old Testament books, and also against unintelligent and undiscriminating employment of them. The different modes of divine selfmanifestation-through dreams, visions, prophecies, oracles, and types, or through the ministry of an angel-will repay study, and will quicken our sense of the condescension with which Almighty God in His communications to mankind has adapted Himself to very varied types of mind and stages of moral development. We are far too apt to make the modern western mind the standard of what is credible not only in the content, but in the manner and methods, of revelation.

3. Once more, the New Testament everywhere presupposes the rudimentary character of the old dispensation. Our blessed Lord Himself draws attention in the Sermon on the Mount to the inherent defects of the ancient religion, its self-accommodation to the low moral standard of those whom it was designed to instruct, discipline, and elevate1. His example and that of His apostles teaches us that we are to consider the drift of the whole bible in judging the Old Testa

1 Matt. v. 19 foll.; xix. 8.

ment; we are to be filled with the spirit of the Gospel, and make it the one standard of measurement in estimating conduct and character, frankly recognizing defect where it exists1, and not explaining away what obviously conflicts with Christian principles, but attending fairly to the difference of time and circumstances which made imperfect character relatively good and admirable. We must remember how just is the distinction between immorality and crude morality, between transgression of a high standard and conformity to a low one 2. I have already pointed out that no Christian writer has a stronger sense at once of the continuity of revelation and of the moral imperfection that characterized its earlier stages than Irenaeus. As he truly says: Una salus et unus Deus. Quae autem formant hominem praecepta multa, et non pauci gradus qui ducunt hominem ad Deum 3.

One point is worthy of particular attention in this connexion-viz. the general character of the New Testament verdict on the Mosaic Law. The question has been raised 'how far the transposition of the Law as it lies before us in the Pentateuch, from the time of Moses to the time of Ezra,' affects the New Testament estimate of Mosaism 4 ? Now we have already seen reasons for supposing that legal discipline of some kind was a constant element of Mosaism, present in it from the first. What is to be noted here is that the critical conclusions which assign a relative inferiority to the Law on the ground of its comparatively late codification entirely fall in with the teaching of apostolic writers as to the place and function of law in Israel's education. Professor Bruce points this out with great force. If we bear in mind St. Paul's teaching in


e. g., the philo-levitical' spirit of the chronicler, which is a religious defect in view of such a passage as Heb. vii. 18 (Bruce, Apologetics, p. 324). Bruce draws attention to other defects, for instance the spirit of vindictiveness, the hatred of foreigners, the tendency to self-righteousness, &c., which were characteristic of Judaism.

2 Bruce, op. cit. p. 329.

4 Bruce, op. cit. pp. 275 foll., 308.

3 Haer. iv. 9. 3.

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