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who at best were mere instruments of His providential purpose. To the Apostle, this blindness to the due proportion of things appeared disastrous and even intolerable. The Corinthians, he says in effect, are forgetting altogether the transcendent dignity of their Christian vocation, the ideal splendour of their privileges as saints. Not merely one scattered ray of the eternal light conveyed through one limited medium is theirs, but each bright beam of light' that God through His Apostles 'casts upon His Church.' Each teacher is a divine gift to the Church. St. Paul even manifests in his rapid transition from teachers, Paul, Apollos and Cephas, to the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come, a kind of noble impatience with the pettiness which is absorbed in discussing individual claims, and types of doctrine, instead of rising to the full recognition of sublime spiritual prerogatives. 'All things,' he seems to say, 'are yours; all are intended to minister to your spiritual growth; you are inheritors of the world, destined to be its judges, called to use for the highest ends its products, gifts, and opportunities. Angels minister to you as heirs of salvation; all things work together for your good. You are heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ. He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?'

In the lectures which I am allowed to deliver here I propose to consider very simply and practically the present function of the Old Testament Scriptures in the Christian Church. Such an attempt, which is obviously beset with grave difficulty, is dictated by considerations which it may be well to indicate as briefly as possible. In the first place, a Christian teacher cannot fail to be seriously concerned at the

1 Rom. viii. 32; cp. Rom. iv. 13, viii. 28; 1 Cor. vi. 2, vii. 31; Heb. i. 2, 14; and Firmil. ad Cyp. [Epp. Cyp. lxxv.] c. 4: Quoniam sermo divinus humanam naturam supergreditur, nec potest totum et perfectum anima concipere; idcirco et tantus est numerus prophetarum, ut multiplex divina sapientia per multos distribuatur.'

practical disuse into which for many ordinary Christians the Old Testament has fallen-a disuse which, whatever be its causes, must tend to impoverish the spiritual life of the Church; and secondly, any one who is in contact with thoughtful persons younger than himself, or who is called to minister to the spiritual perplexities of devout Christians, is well aware that the real and apparent results of the 'Higher Criticism' have raised questions, a provisional answer to which cannot be indefinitely deferred without a certain breach of trust. In Germany many attempts have been made during the last few years to define anew the position of the Old Testament, and to bring the claims of Lutheran orthodoxy into harmony with those of historical inquiry. In England, however, the task of reconciliation has scarcely yet been attempted. Its peculiar delicacy lies in the fact, amply proved by experience, that while many are asking for guidance, many on the other hand are unwilling or unqualified to investigate the claims of criticism, or even to give a hearing to that which is believed in a vague and undefined way to threaten the foundations of Christian faith. A А somewhat unintelligent conception of the Scriptures, and of their true place in the system of the Church, has also much to answer for. The result is that an attempt to guide and reassure troubled faith is beset with difficulties. The Christian apologist himself is suspected or even denounced; what he concedes appears to some to involve a virtual betrayal of essential truth; what he defends or maintains is thought by others to be an untenable remnant of exploded error. There seems indeed to be no subject in regard to which prejudice is more slowly dispelled,

1 Some causes are discussed by Prof. Kirkpatrick in The Divine Library of the Old Testament, pp. 117 foll. Mr. J. Paterson Smyth in his useful work How God inspired the Bible, p. 15, quotes a typical letter from a young student in which the following sentences occur. 'There are hundreds... like me, who do not want to lose our grasp of the Bible, but we can no longer view it as we have been taught to do. If there is any way by which we can still hold it and treasure it, do our teachers know it? and if they do, why do they not tell us?'

and passion more vehemently excited, than that which is to be considered in these lectures. The most necessary qualification for dealing with it is a certain tenderness of sympathy with those who are harassed by the breaking in upon them of new modes of thought and new collections of facts. A teacher must have realized in his own experience at least some of the pains of mental growth and the difficulties of selfadjustment to the claims of truth as it is progressively manifested1. We must not be surprised that mental versatility is a rare endowment, and that in the case of Holy Scripture the conflict is not merely between new knowledge and a traditional view, but between new knowledge and deeply-rooted spiritual experience. The real nature of the distress that agitates so many ordinary Christians at the present time is amply recognized by reverent criticism. 'It would argue,' writes the late Prof. Robertson Smith, 'indifference rather than enlightenment, if the great mass of Bible readers, to whom scientific points of view are wholly unfamiliar, could adjust themselves to a new line of investigation into the history of the Bible without passing through a crisis of anxious thought not far removed from distress and alarm 2.' Sympathy then with troubled faith should in any case guide the attempt to bring succour and relief to perplexed thought.

One ground of reassurance is to be found in a true apprehension of the exact conditions of modern inquiry. The battle, it has been well said, is not between rationalism and faith, but between true criticism and false 3. Historical and literary criticism is to be regarded not as a foe to be held at bay, but as a good gift of God to our generation.

1 Bernard, in Cant. xxxix. 3, makes a striking observation: 'Benignus est Spiritus sapientiae, et placet illi doctor benignus et diligens, qui ita cupiat satisfacere studiosis, ut morem gerere tardioribus non recuset.'


The Old Testament in the Jewish Church, p. 1.

Cp. Briggs, Biblical Study, its Principles, Methods, and History, p. 104.

It will be our duty presently to indicate at least in rough outline the considerations which appear to justify a cautious and provisional acceptance of at least the main results of modern critical investigation. Meanwhile let it suffice to remark that the traditional view of the Old Testament religion has in any case been profoundly modified, first, by the idea of historical development, which has given intrinsic reasonableness to the supposition that the Hebrew religion passed very gradually from a quite rudimentary stage to that of maturity; secondly, by the discovery or employment of facts and sources by which the results of literary criticism have been supplemented or confirmed. It is scarcely too much to assert that the century now verging to its close has witnessed the birth of a series of new sciences, if the title is strictly applicable to those fruitful departments of knowledge usually included under such names as names as 'Assyriology,' 'Egyptology,' and the like. The discovery of Phoenician inscriptions, systematic inquiry into the usages of early religions, the scrutiny of materials supplied by the mounds of Babylon, Egypt, Nineveh and Palestine -these have yielded a mass of data which have practically changed the conditions of Old Testament criticism. It is often imagined that because many problems are apparently insoluble and many details are confessedly obscure or uncertain, the traditional view of the Old Testament remains virtually unaffected. But it is important to bear in mind that, even when all crude speculations and fantastic theories are excluded from view, there remains a mass of ascertained facts which the mere dislike of trouble may incline men to ignore, yet which deserve the most patient and painstaking attention of all educated Christians. In a famous sermon the late Archbishop Magee once pointed out the demoralizing effect of

1 See J. Darmesteter, Les Prophètes d'Israël, pp. 158 foll. Cp. Renan, Histoire du peuple d'Israël, pref. p. xxiv [Eng. Tr.].

distorted or exaggerated preconceptions as to the nature of Scripture. The Church, he said, has too often attempted to evade the pressure' of criticism, 'by wire-drawn explanations, far-fetched harmonizings, ingenious hypotheses which do more credit to the ability than to the candour of those who have resorted to them'.' We have surely been taught by the experience of the past that for a child of God candour is the first of duties, and the question has now forced itself to the front, whether or no something more is needed than doubtful disputations on points of detail; whether or no the present state of knowledge demands a reconstruction of our ideas respecting the mode of God's self-revelation in the sacred history. At the same time let us remember that the demand made upon our faith and courage is not a new thing. We are now facing, as the Hebrew Christians were called to face,' the trials of a new age. It has been pointed out that in their case the trials were such as sprang 'in a great degree from mistaken devoutness.' Those who live in an age like ours likewise need, it is true, a word of consolation 3. New ideas, new phases of thought, new aspects of old problems, press upon us; ancient modes of statement seem sometimes to have become void of meaning; paths trodden by the feet of many generations seem to be outworn:

ἅπανθ ̓ ὁ μακρὸς κἀναρίθμητος χρόνος

φύει τ ̓ ἄδηλα καὶ φανέντα κρύπτεται
κοὐκ ἔστ ̓ ἄελπτον οὐδέν4.

But faith finds her solace in the history of the Church. She has the experience of nineteen centuries to support her, and to give her the assurance that God has been with His people all along, is with them now, and

The Gospel and the Age, p. 322. Cp. the impressive words of Delitzsch, New Commentary on Genesis, vol. i. pp. 54 foll. The love of truth, submission to the force of truth, the surrender of traditional views which will not stand the test of truth, is a sacred duty, an element of the fear of God.'

2 Cp. Westcott, Christus Consummator, ch. i. 3 Heb. xiii. 22.

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Soph. Ajax, 646 foll.

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