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types; but certainly men of flesh and blood, men in whom we can recognize ourselves, and whose spiritual life, in spite of the immense interval of place, time, and circumstances between us and them, is the same [in its general conditions] as ours, and therefore can serve us as a mirror. In a word, one of the most important functions of the Old Testament is to teach us a knowledge of men and of the human heart-its possibilities of nobleness, its strange self-deceits, its variable hold on moral law, its haunting sense of a vocation to know and love God.


4. Akin to the function of the Old Testament Scriptures just described, is the office which it fulfils a manual of the spiritual life, profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works 2. The word of God, whether written or orally delivered, adapts itself to the requirements of individual men. Thus

it is sometimes described as the food of souls-food which is milk or strong meat according to the capacity of him who feeds upon it. It claims to be a lantern or lamp a light of the conscience-setting before men, whether in the incidents of personal biography or in the annals of national life, the dealings of God with nations and with individual souls. It reveals to them His requirement, it unveils His character, it unfolds His judgments, it encourages them by the splendour of His promises and by the special tokens. of His presence. The value of the letter of the Old Testament in this connexion is great; it is, so to speak, a pledge of the continual providence which 'ordereth all things both in heaven and earth.' Most precious is the letter,' says a devout writer, 'as showing. how the path of lonely men, if they walk with Him, their wells, and sheep, and feasts, and wars, are all His interests; that not a marriage, or birth, or death,not the weaning of a child, or the dismissal of a maid,1 Valeton, Vergängliches und Ewiges im A. T. p. 13. 2 2 Tim. iii. 16, 17.


not the bargain for a grave, or the wish respecting the place of burial,-but He watches and directs it. The literal sense of the Old Testament is indeed a consecration of the natural life of men, just as the New Testament is the witness of their spiritual calling and destiny. This seems to be the point of Augustine's observation that the Old Testament belongs to the old man, with which human nature must necessarily begin, while the New Testament concerns the new man, into which human nature ought to pass over from its old estate 2. Again, Scripture is a mirror-such is the striking thought of St. James—a glass in which the child of God may behold himself, not only in his imperfection and frailty, but in the ideal manhood towards the attainment of which he tends. In the word he may, if he pleases, ascertain what manner of man he was in the divine thought for him. There he can discern to what he is called; what religion essentially isthe life of ever-growing friendship with Almighty God; what is the end of all things-the appropriation and penetration of nature and humanity by the divine Spirit.

Once more, to the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews Scripture is a sword: a weapon of defence for the spiritual man engaged in his inevitable conflict with ghostly foes. So our blessed Lord used the Old Testament in the stress of His temptation, and thereby taught us to do the same. To Him it was the written record of God's unchanging will for man, and His thoughts concerning him. To the Bible viewed in this aspect St. Paul's words apply: The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds. And it is to be noted in passing that through disparage



Jukes, The Types of Genesis, p. xvi.

Aug. c. duas epp. Pelag. iii. 13. So Enarr. i. in psalm. xxi. 1, Augustine speaks of Christ as 'personam servans veteris hominis, cujus mortalitatem portavit.'


2 Cor. x. 4. Observe this aspect of Scripture is very prominent in Cyprian. See his de orat. dom. i; epp. xxxi. 5, lviii. 7.

ment or neglect of the Old Testament, men may find themselves defenceless in the day of strong temptation or mortal fear. The sword of the Spirit is to be grasped by habitual study of Scripture, and by really putting it to the proof1.

In one memorable passage St. Paul indicates the special character of the support which the study of the Old Testament lends to faith. He tells us that whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope. When we consider the stress which our Lord and His apostles lay upon the necessity of endurance, it is easy to understand how wisely the Old Testament is adapted to our spiritual needs. For it is a book of hope, teaching in every part of it the faithfulness of God, and the meaning and expediency of those delays and trials by which promised blessings are hindered or postponed . The Old Testament is the history of a promise, the fulfilment of which was earnestly awaited and often despaired of by those who were its heirs; a promise only accomplished under circumstances undreamed of and in days when its essential nature was well-nigh forgotten. Further, the Old Testament is a history of grace. It teaches the capacities of that human nature which God condescends to train and discipline. It traces the steps by which the Israel of Egypt and the wilderness became the people of the star and sceptre, the holy nation, the kingdom of priests, the mother of saints, the people prepared for the Lord. It records miracles of national recovery, irresistible awakenings of conscience, the continual overruling of disaster for good, the regenerating force of personal character, the healing influences of the Spirit of God. In a word, the Old Testament witnesses to the continual advance, even through periods of fear,

1 See Heb. v. 12; 1 Pet. ii. 2; 2 Pet. i. 19; Jas. i. 25; Eph. vi. 17; John v. 39. 2 Rom. xv. 4. 3 Cp. Jas. v. II.

depression, and degeneration, of a victorious purpose of good; nor does it fail the human spirit in its hours. of overwhelming fear or perplexity. It is a book of hope because it faces the anomalies and enigmas of life which overcloud and baffle so many minds. It teaches us that though we cannot understand the ways of God, at least He understands us. The Psalmist comforts himself by the simple reflection that when his spirit was in heaviness God knew his path'. The problems of existence have not been essentially altered by the immense changes of circumstance that part one period of history or one stage of human culture and experience from another. But the Old Testament is a pledge to us that all things-our needs, our perplexities, our failures, our aspirations, our struggles for existence, our toils on behalf of others, our joys and griefs, our hopes and fears-are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do 2.

Spiritual edification then is one important function discharged by the Old Testament. It is at once

a manual of moral instruction and a book of devotion. It teaches us how to please God, and how to approach Him. It illustrates the close connexion between. obedience, faith, and worship. In regard to this point it is instructive to mark how large a place the study of the Law appears to occupy in the thought of those to whom we owe some of the deepest and most spiritual of Psalms. We learn from this circumstance that the free temper of religious devotion can only have its root in a long and patient spiritual education: that the severe schooling of the will must precede the awakening of religious emotion and affection. It was the discipline of the Law that awakened in man's heart the consciousness of what God really was in Himself, and in His relation to man. And in two respects the Psalms seem to embody the entire spiritual teaching of the Old Testament: first

1 Ps. cxlii. 3.

2 Heb. iv. 13.


in their recognition of the individuality of the soul, of its loneliness in its conflict with spiritual enemies and of its dignity as creature made by God and for God; secondly, in the thought of the allsufficiency of God, who is to the soul of man all that it needs, all that it longs for. The principle of devotion,' says a writer on the spiritual life, 'is that God being the one source and the one author of holiness, the reasonable creature ought to depend on Him in everything and be absolutely governed by the Spirit of God.' This may indeed be described as the final lesson of the Old Testament, by which it is fitted to give expression to man's highest spiritual yearnings. Its office is not only to confirm personal faith by witnessing to the truth of God in the fulfilment of prophecy 2, but to guide it by continuous revelation of the divine will 3.

5. The Old Testament may be studied in the next place as an instructor in social righteousness 4. It exhibits the moral government of God as attested in His dealings with nations rather than with individuals; and it was their consciousness of the action and presence of God in history that made the prophets preachers, not merely to their own countrymen, but to the world at large. The study of prophecy cannot but deepen our sense of the continuity of national life, of the reality of national vocation and responsibility, of the principle of judgment visibly at work in national history. Israel's career, as interpreted by the continuous commentary of prophetism, obliges us to

1 Grou, Manual, &c. p. 2.

2 Cp. Tert. Apol. xx: Quicquid agitur, praenuntiabatur; quicquid videtur, audiebatur, &c. . . . Idoneum, opinor, testimonium divinitatis veritas divinationis. Hinc igitur apud nos futurorum quoque fides tuta est, jam scilicet probatorum, quia cum illis quae quotidie probantur, praedicebantur.' So Aug. c. Faust. Man. viii. 2: 'Non in servitute facimus quae jussa sunt ad nos praenuntiandos, sed in libertate legimus quae scripta sunt ad nos confirmandos.'


Aug. de doc. iii. I: 'Homo timens Deum voluntatem ejus in scripturis sanctis diligenter inquirit.'

* See G. A. Smith, The Preaching of the O. T. to the Age, pp. 19 foll.

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