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the Old Testament 1; there belongs to some of them at least an interest not merely national but universal, while others seem specially adapted to enter into the circumstances and minister to the needs of individual souls. There are some elements in the Hagiographa which appear to constitute a link of connexion. between Judaism and the heathen world; and others which witness to the providential care of God for the individual soul, and to the divine regard for every variety of conditions in human life.

With this brief indication of the way in which the different aspects of the Old Testament find each its peculiar expression in different parts of the sacred volume, we may close the preliminary survey of our subject.

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We have heard with our ears, O God, our fathers have told us, what thou hast done in their time of old.-Ps. xliv. I.

AN inspired book, such as we believe the Old Testament to be, cannot be designed merely to record the religious experiences or promote the spiritual interests of one favoured nation; still less can it be intended for special and particular groups of individuals-leaders, priests, antiquarians, or scholars. It is meant for universal humanity. It must be adapted to serve world-wide purposes; it must be capable of being to all men everywhere a source of the same divine power, guidance, grace and encouragement which it supplied of old to members of the covenant-people. We need not pause to dwell on the fact that Christian experience has vindicated this high estimate of the practical purpose which the Old Testament was destined to fulfil. I will only notice that the universality of their scope helps us better to appreciate the inexhaustible variety which characterizes the Scriptures a variety not only in the style and tone of the different books, in their subject-matter, point of view, and mode of treatment, but a variety also in respect of their canonical value and function. It has been suggested that if we regard the Bible as an organism in which every particular book has its distinct office and function, the analogy justifies us in considering some books to be more important than others, some more essential to the integrity of the whole than others. This way of regarding the Bible


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is intended to reassure the perplexed by reminding them that there may be questions raised in regard to certain books without vital consequence to faith ensuing1. We may, however, somewhat extend the analogy, and observe how the phenomena of physical nature, viewed in their totality, illustrate the diversity which is so noticeable in the contents of Scripture. For nature also is a book in which, as in Scripture, we study the manifestation of a divine life. We observe that nature is in a mysterious way bound up with the fortunes of man: the day of the Lord comes upon it as upon him, in judgment or benediction. When man is glad, nature also rejoices with joy and singing. It has an inner sympathy with him; it is the sphere of his labour; it is in a great measure subject to his control; it is the medium of God's dispensations of power or blessing concerning him. Nature, then, may be expected to give us a clue to the right view of Scripture. It is infinite in its variety-a variety so vast that thought has to partition off one department after another for the purposes of special investigation. Indeed, the extent of variation seems to outrun the requirements, so far as our human faculties can judge, of adaptation to particular ends. Again, nature is fragmentary in appearance. It continually suggests--

even in the scenes of waste and devastation with which the surface of the universe is overspread-that God employs means and aims at results which lie beyond the range of our present powers of perception. And yet there is in nature an inner unity and completenessthe sense of which partly arises from our instinctive transference to nature of the unity which underlies our own sense of personality and partly follows from our conception of God as the single sustaining cause of all

1 Bruce, Apologetics, pp. 314, 315. It is noteworthy that in the First Prayer Book of Edw. VI (1549) the following rubric was inserted: The Old Testament is appointed for the first lessons at Matins and Evensong, and shall be read through every year once, except certain books and chapiters which be least edifying, and might best be spared, and therefore are left unread.' This direction was omitted in the revised Book of 1662.

things, rerum tenax vigor. This harmony is taken. for granted in our blessed Lord's parabolic teaching. It is the harmony of a consentient witness. Thus by its completeness and by its fragmentariness, by its sternness and rigour no less than by its softness and loveliness, by what it is and by what it is not, nature witnesses to the indwelling and sustaining presence of its Author. And when we turn to Scripture we are prepared to find that God adapts Himself to the diversity of human needs in ways analogous to His operations in nature. We find Scripture also marked by an infinite variety, yet by a clearly felt harmony. We find it to be fragmentary, yet in one view complete. It exhibits strange features of apparent imperfection and anomaly, yet it is manifestly an organic whole. Scripture is analogous to nature also in this: that while its general aspect is stern and sombre, its promises and suggestions point to an unearthly glory and perfection of things yet to be revealed. Further, the interpretation of Scripture, as of nature, is seen not to belong exclusively to any one age or time. Each generation reads it with the aid of fresh light, and finds in it a new significance. It contains much that can only be apprehended and interpreted in the light of an acquired knowledge of the whole and an enlarged acquaintance with human nature and its needs. The attentive reader of the Old Testament, like the student of nature, has moments of insight when he perceives 'gleams like the flashing of a shield.' For Scripture, like nature, points persistently beyond itself to a uniform purpose pervading the multiplicity of historical events which it

1 Cp. Briggs, Biblical Study, p. 359. 'The Bible is a vast organism, in which the unity springs from an amazing variety. The unity is not that of a mass of rocks or a pool of water. It is the unity that one finds in the best works of God. It is the unity of the ocean, where every wave has its individuality of life and movement. It is the unity of the continent, in which mountains and rivers, valleys and uplands, flowers and trees, birds and insects, animal and human life, combine to distinguish it as a magnificent whole from other continents. It is the unity of the heavens where star differs from star in form, colour, order, movement, size and importance, but all declare the glory of God.'

describes, and of spiritual moods which it reflects. It unveils, even while it partially conceals, a presence for which the human heart instinctively yearns, towards which it stretches out hands-a presence which speaks and appeals to man as spirit to spirit and heart to heart.

And if it should be asked what led to the formation and eventual completion of a 'canon' of the Old Testament, the answer is perhaps something of this kind. The conviction arose after the overthrow of the Hebrew state that it was desirable to secure n a permanent form the spiritual forces which had built up and moulded the characteristic life of the Jewish Church, and that there already existed writings sufficiently qualified to fulfil this function. In regard to the methods by which canonical problems were gradually settled we are very much in the dark, but in the total result we can trace the action of religious experience, guided by divine wisdom to select those particular writings which had proved themselves best adapted to develope and educate religious faith.

Regarded in its entirety, the Old Testament is the record of man's communion with his Creator; it traces through all its successive stages the history of a friendship between God and man which reaches its climax in the spiritual life of Christian saints. It tells the chequered story of that sacred mutual love: on the divine side, the disappointments of love-its constancy, its patience, its tenderness, its hopefulness; on the human side, the fallings away and vanishings of love-its recoveries, its heroisms, its ventures of faith, its perpetual tendency towards consummation in a perfect union between God and man, in the Incarnation of God and the presence in human hearts of the indwelling Spirit. In the Old Testament the story is all but completed, and it is enshrined in enduring forms of typical value and significance, for in the retrogressions and advancements of one particular nation. lies hidden the whole spiritual history of mankind, in

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