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in. Israel's obligation to obedience is rooted in Jehovah's character. His redemptive acts on behalf of His elect people stand in the forefront of the moral law, and supply the motive of love and service.

Grace is, in fact, a prominent element in the divine self-revelation from the first point in Israel's history to the last. And, in accordance with the whole course of man's religious history, a stage of external manifestation precedes that of inward realization. Grace is first revealed in the sphere of history and providence, God working for the redemption of a downtrodden people; 'doing for Israel what she could not do for herself, in love and pity redeeming a helpless enslaved race from a state of bondage,' and throughout its history ever renewing the manifestation of his goodness. In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them; in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old1.

At a later period, grace came to be regarded by the prophets as an internal operation of divine love, a beneficent power working within men, enabling them to fulfil the divine will, a power subduing sin, cleansing the conscience, and renewing the heart. So the historical and external enfranchisement was acknowledged to be the type of a spiritual deliverance; and as religious affections became more perfectly developed, devout Israelites became ever more alive to the true significance of Jehovah's mighty acts on behalf of their fathers in the time of old; witness the tenderness of such a passage as the following extract from the fourth book of Esdras. Thus saith the Almighty Lord, Have I not prayed you as a father his sons, as a mother her daughters, and a nurse her

1 Isa. lxiii. 9.

2 Bruce, Apologetics, p. 249. Riehm, ATI. Theologie, p. 35, remarks that in the Old Testament as in the New we have a redemptive act of God: 'Im alten Bunde eine Erlösung des Volkes von äusserlicher Knechtschaft, im neuen eine Erlösung aller einzelnen von geistlicher Knechtschaft.'

young babes, that ye would be my people, and I should be your God; that ye would be my children, and I should be your father? I gathered you together, as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings1. Indeed the most essential characteristic of Old Testament religion. is its unshaken conviction, that the Holy God who manifested Himself to His chosen people was above all else a God of grace: Israel's election, and redemption, and its preservation throughout the perilous vicissitudes of its chequered history, were standing proofs that the most fundamental and enduring element in the divine Being is Love 2.

It will be our business in a later lecture to investigate more particularly the main points of the Old Testament revelation of God. Meanwhile, let it suffice to remark that we only do justice to the labours of criticism when we acknowledge the fact of a long and slow development in Israel's conception of deity. Some have supposed that the knowledge of God was originally simple and pure, and that the religion of Israel was merely the re-establishment of a primitive monotheism. But, in spite of the admitted possibility of degradation as a factor in religious history, it must be frankly owned that there is a lack of evidence for the existence of an original monotheistic religion among the Semites, and indeed the Old Testament itself contains indications that even in Abraham's family there was a survival of idolatrous practices and beliefs 3.

The history of Israel seems, as a matter of fact, to show us clearly marked stages in the development of the idea of God, the prophets from Moses onwards being the leaders of religious thought. In the earliest period, Jehovah is popularly conceived as a national God, opposed to the gods of surrounding nations, having the same attributes as they, chiefly wrathful

1 4 Esdras i. 28 f. The date of this book is thought to be circ. 90, A.D. Cp. Riehm, ATI. Theologie, § 11, pp. 62, 63.


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Cp. Gen. xxxv. 2; Joshua xxiv. 2. Cp. Riehm, op. cit. pp. 31, 32.

ness and jealousy, worshipped with similar rites and making the same demands. But, as we have seen, higher and purer ideas were impressed by the marvels of the exodus on at least the more receptive minds. Step by step the evolution of thought proceeds. The narrative of Israel's conflicts is the story of the wars of Jehovah1, of a struggle between Israel's national God and the deities of alien tribes. The work of the prophets was to moralize the conception. of Jehovah; to show that His essential attributes were ethical, His necessary requirement of man, holiness. Finally, in the great overthrow of the nation the national conscience was led by the Holy Spirit to recognize that which the loftier spirits had already discerned ages before; it acknowledged the triumph. of the divine righteousness; it rose to the conception of a God one, holy, and gracious 2.

With one general remark we leave the subject of progressive Revelation. It has been already pointed out that belief and unbelief are confronted by the same facts; they are distinguished by the divergent account which each gives of the facts. The process of evolution in Israel's faith lies on the very surface of the Old Testament, and is verified by all that we know of God's dealings in every department of His action. We recognize then the progressive development of Old Testament religion: but we look upon it not as 'a spontaneous upward movement of the human mind, whereby it passes from crude errors to purer forms of thought, but as a progressive selfunveiling of Deity in the sphere of revelation, as a divine work of education, dealing with stubborn and

1 Num. xxi. 14.

2 Cp. Darmesteter, op. cit. pp. 165 f. It is very important to bear in mind the contrast between the mass of the Hebrew people and the inner circle which responded to the teaching of prophetic leaders. There is every ground for asserting with Riehm, op. cit. p. 11: 'Die Masse des Volkes, insbesondere auch die Priesterschaft, blieb immer im Grossen und Ganzen auf jener ersten Stufe der volkstümlichen Ausgestaltung der alttestamentlichen, Religion stehen, während die höhere Entwicklungsgestalt des Prophetismus sich auf einen engeren Kreis beschränkte.'

intractable material'.' The contrast between these two views is profound, and we owe a debt of gratitude to the historical criticism which has enlarged our sense of the continuity observable in divine revelation. We have learned to apprehend more clearly what has been an axiom of Christian thought since the principle was vindicated by Irenaeus in opposition to the Gnostics2. 'It is the same God,' says a recent writer, 'who made Himself known to Abraham, Moses, Elijah, and Isaiah, who revealed Himself as our Father in the person of Jesus Christ. He is the same with the fathers as with the children: but He condescends lovingly to submit Himself to those limitations of man's spiritual life which He Himself ordained. He reveals Himself to children, according to their capacity, to men in such wise as is suitable to men; He does not at one sweep get rid of all obscurities and all obstacles, but overcomes them gently and patiently by acting on them from within; He does not annihilate with one magic stroke all alien elements, which His revelation finds already present in the minds of its recipients, but allows the measure of divine knowledge and experience which can be imparted to work as a ferment which in time will sever the defective elements from the good ".'

III. A third point of view from which the Old Testament may be studied will have to be considered. It traces the history, and states the conditions, of a covenantal relationship between God and man; of a life of friendship or communion which grows out of the original relation in which the Creator stands to the creature. This life of love begins historically with God's election of the patriarch Abraham: and the deliverance of his descendants from servitude became the basis of a 'covenant' between Jehovah and those whom He took by the hand to lead them

1 Oettli, op. cit. p. 19.

2 Cp. Iren. Haer. iii. 3. 3, &c.; also Novat. de Trin. viii.
3 Oettli, op. cit. p. 20.

out of the land of Egypt1. For the present it is desirable to waive the question when the unique relationship of God to His ransomed people first came to be regarded in the light of a covenant, a question of which Wellhausen seems to dispose somewhat too confidently. At this point it will suffice to touch upon some leading features of the settlement which was traced back by Hebrew faith to the time of the exodus.

First, it is noticeable that the 'covenant' is rather a matter of divine institution or disposition than a contract between two equal parties 2. The initiation is taken by Jehovah, and is purely an act of grace. He who establishes a bond of union between Himself and man also fixes the necessary conditions of it. This is tantamount to saying that behind the covenant lies Israel's election, a thought which is specially characteristic of the book of Deuteronomy 3. Again, we find that the covenant is formally ratified by sacrifice, in accordance with the principle universally recognized—διαθήκη ἐπὶ νεκροῖς BeBaía. The death of a sacrificial victim on the one hand secured the immutability of the terms laid down in the covenant, and on the other symbolized the surrender of man's natural life, which must be freely yielded up if it is to be brought into contact with the divine nature. Only by accepting death can human nature enter upon a higher sphere of active serviceableness in the kingdom of God. Further, the sprinkling of the victim's blood upon the people was an emblem of their consecration to the life of covenant-fellowship. It was a kind of baptism by which Israel was translated into a spiritual kingdom, and endued with the sanctity of the divine life. It was a seal of that act, or series of acts, by which

1 Jer. xxxi. 32. Cp. Heb. viii. 9.


Aaden rather than ovvejkŋ. Сp. Westcott, Ep. to the Hebrews, PP: 222, 299. * Heb. ix. 17.

3 Deut. vii. 7; viii. 18.

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