« AnteriorContinuar »
"Oxford, between the commencement of the last month in "Lent Term, and the end of the third week in Act Term.
"Also I direct and appoint, that the eight Divinity Lecture "Sermons shall be preached upon either of the following Subjects—to confirm and establish the Christian Faith, and "to confute all heretics and schismatics-upon the divine authority of the holy Scriptures-upon the authority of "the writings of the primitive Fathers, as to the faith and 'practice of the primitive Church-upon the Divinity of our "Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ-upon the Divinity of the "Holy Ghost-upon the Articles of the Christian Faith, as "comprehended in the Apostles' and Nicene Creeds.
"Also I direct, that thirty copies of the eight Divinity Lec"ture Sermons shall be always printed, within two months "after they are preached; and one copy shall be given to the "Chancellor of the University, and one copy to the Head of "every College, and one copy to the Mayor of the city of Oxford, and one copy to be put into the Bodleian Library; "and the expense of printing them shall be paid out of the revenue of the Land or Estates given for establishing the "Divinity Lecture Sermons; and the Preacher shall not be "paid, nor be entitled to the revenue, before they are printed.
"Also I direct and appoint, that no person shall be quali"fied to preach the Divinity Lecture Sermons, unless he hath "taken the degree of Master of Arts at least, in one of the "two Universities of Oxford or Cambridge; and that the "same person shall never preach the Divinity Lecture Sermons twice."
THE following lectures are intended rather to illustrate than to defend exhaustively a view of the Old Testament which to the writer has long been habitual, and which, having some claim to be considered a via media, will, he hopes, commend itself to thoughtful Churchmen.
Mr. Goldwin Smith has recently asserted that those whom he calls 'rationalistic apologists' do but tamper with their conscience and understanding when they claim that the Old Testament contains both a divine and a human element. Far better it is,' he says, 'whatever the effort may cost, honestly to admit that the sacred books of the Hebrews, granting their superiority to the sacred books of other nations, are, like the sacred books of other nations, the works of man and not of God.' Such statements as this, and they are not infrequently made, seem to challenge the attention of loyal Churchmen, and to justify the attempt to deal dispassionately both with the undeniable facts that have been brought to light by
1 Guesses at the Riddle of Existence (Essay on 'The Church and the Old Testament'), p. 95.
historical and critical research, and with the theories which they are supposed to support.
In writing these lectures I have had in view several different classes of persons.
There are those who, like Mr. Goldwin Smith himself, imagine that High Churchmen, having studied recent criticism, feel that there is a millstone to be cast off1.' Speaking for myself, I am unaware of any ' millstone' other than the strange and inveterate misconceptions which are widely prevalent, and are apparently shared by the distinguished essayist himself, respecting the true place and function of the Old Testament in the life and system of the Christian Church. Those who have watched the course of religious thought on the subject will certainly feel that Mr. Goldwin Smith's strictures on the honesty and good sense of Churchmen are somewhat belated and irrelevant. I say confidently that the effect of a more strictly historical and scientific study has been to enhance the interest, reverence, and love with which we Churchmen regard the Old Testament. We deplore the comparative neglect of the Bible which has to some extent been the consequence of recent unsettlement, and we are anxious to enrich others as we have been enriched, by imparting to them a point of view from which the verdicts of criticisms can be justly appreciated.
It is a matter of simple experience that modern research has both enlarged our insight into the actual course and method of divine revelation, and has shed abundant light on many points which the pre-critical conception of Hebrew history left obscure or altogether unexplained.
Again, there are those whose dislike or suspicion of the critical movement has led them, as I think, to
minimize the significance and value of its assured results. The main defect of some books written in defence of traditional theories is that while they endeavour, not without a measure of success, to discredit the results of an extreme, one-sided, and rationalistic criticism, they do not always appear adequately to recognize the importance of those conclusions which the research of 150 years has rendered inevitable, which sober critics of every school practically agree to accept, and which in any case have considerably modified the traditional theory of Hebrew history and religion'.
My aim is to show that it is possible to regard as conclusive and to welcome with cordiality many verdicts of the 'Higher Criticism,' without necessarily accepting what is merely conjectural and arbitrary.
Once more, there is a class of persons to whom maxima debetur reverentia.
It may be asked whether I have seriously considered the probable effect on the simple faith and piety of ordinary Churchmen of statements which question cherished beliefs, and may possibly disturb or endanger faith itself. Certainly I recognize with sincere pain that certain assumptions and statements contained in this book may possibly cause disquiet and alarm to some devout Christians. But it is one of the difficulties of our present transitional position that each step in advance, while it brings relief to many, occasions distress or even scandal to some. We must face the inevitable cost involved in intellectual movement. The duty of a teacher is to weigh the perils of frank utterance against those of continued silence. On the
1 I may mention such typical works as Prof. Robertson's Early Religion of Israel, Mr. Baxter's Sanctuary and Sacrifice, and Prof. Hommel's Ancient Hebrew Tradition illustrated by the Monuments.
one hand, he may know of many-clergy, students, schoolmasters, thoughtful laymen, highly educated women charged with the religious training of children, and others who are deeply impressed by the solidity and weight of the case for the Higher Criticism of the Old Testament, and who, in view of its apparent results, are eagerly looking for guidance and reassurOn the other hand, he is bound to consider carefully the danger of wounding or scandalizing those who have little or no opportunity of forming an independent judgment on matters of science or criticism, and who cannot be expected to part with convictions that are indissolubly bound up with their religious experience.
In view of this difficulty, a man is justified in committing himself to the guidance of God, and doing his best at once to aid the perplexed, and to deal tenderly with those whose faith has been hitherto undisturbed. I do not ask any reader to accept without due inquiry the particular conception of Hebrew history which has been adopted in these lectures; but I do desire to show that a Christian believer need not cast away his faith because his traditional view of the Old Testament has been shown to be inadequate or untenable. And if through any want of due reverence, caution, or consideration I have needlessly troubled any devout mind, I can only express my sorrow, and unreservedly submit what I have written to the judgment of the Church.
I must acknowledge a debt of gratitude to friends who have given me the benefit of their counsel and criticism, especially to Dr. Driver, Dr. Moberly, and Dr. Lock. To the governors of the Pusey House who granted me a Term's absence from Oxford, and to my friend Mr. Hutton of St. John's College who allowed