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operation of those divine attributes which are now, as ever, the hope, the support, and the solace of the individual soul. A gifted French writer has spoken mournfully of a cry which fills our age—the cry of the orphan who no longer possesses a Father in heaven to speak to him and guide him. It rings from one end of the century to the other; it makes itself heard beneath the tumult of wars and revolutions, the triumphant declarations of science, the sarcasms of egotism and scepticism, the ceaseless murmur of life as it passes on its course!' Nay, the truth of the divine Fatherhood is not lost. It is overclouded indeed and obscured by the apparent rigour of Nature, by the discoveries of science, by the appalling catastrophes which sometimes overwhelm us with the sense of our frailty, our ignorance, our helplessness. Nevertheless in God, God Almighty, the Lord Jehovah, the Father revealed in the passion and resurrection of Jesus, the Father who watches over even the least of His children with wise providence, with discriminating tenderness, the burdened and perplexed heart of man may find refuge and rest. For the divine self-manifestation, even if it fails to satisfy all our questionings, is at least coextensive with our needs. Blessed indeed is he to whom, as to Moses, the unfolding of the ineffable Name is a fact of personal experience; whose ear has caught amid the tumults and distractions of time the accents of the eternal voice whispering to the soul, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy 2.
Darmesteter, Les Prophètes d'Israël, pref. p. iii. 2 Exod. xxxiii. 19.
Gaiher my saints together unto me; those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice.-Ps. 1. 5.
Both in this psalm, and in some passages that might be quoted from the prophets, we observe how the devout Israelite gradually awoke to a consciousness of those spiritual realities which were symbolized by the external institutions of his religion. The fiftieth psalm, and perhaps the fortieth and fifty-first, seem to mark a new stage in the development of inward religion, when the practice of the sacrificial system had already ceased in great measure to satisfy the moral needs of men, and had driven them to reflect upon the spiritual truths which the system was intended to foreshadow 1. A bond such as that which the Israelite believed to exist between his people and Jehovah could be no inerely external link of connexion. It was the token of a special relationship between personal and moral beings, implying on one side an act of condescending grace, on the other certain ethical and spiritual obligations. And when the Pentateuch finally attained its present form, the relation between Jehovah and Israel was universally conceived as based upon an original covenant. The deliverance which had resulted in the formation of Israel's nationality was regarded as an act of grace by which the new relationship was established. The covenant was ratified by a sacrifice of victims and by the ceremonial sprinkling of blood. The people on their part accepted the proffered conditions: all that the Lord hath said will we do and be obedient; and when the solemn formalities were finally completed, chosen representatives of the nationMoses, Aaron and his two sons, together with seventy of the elders of Israel-were admitted to a mysterious communion with Deity; they were called to participate in the feast and the vision which were, so to speak, a foretaste of the entrancing delights of the divine kingdom!. Thus at the very outset of its national history Israel was subjected to a law of obedience as the indispensable condition of fulfilling its high destiny. It was taught that covenantal union with God demanded a special character in man. The principle was for ever established that the great link between God and humanity is the moral law. The Mosaic Law thus retains an essential significance for mankind in virtue of the fundamental idea which it embodies. We may study the Pentateuch with a keen historical or archaeological interest, but critical investigations must never blind us to the fact that the Law witnesses mainly to a spiritual truth, viz. that in the life of fellowship between God and man, moral obligation is the master fact. The central principle of the entire levitical system is comprehended in the words, Ye shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy
1 Cp. Cheyne, Aids to the Devout Study of Criticism, pp. 194 foll. ; Westcott, Ep. to the Hebrews, p. 225.
At the same time, no one, I think, can read the twenty-fourth chapter of Exodus without a very strong impression of its idealistic character. There are few passages in the Old Testament so mysterious, so sublime, so prophetic. The bare mention of a solemn slaughter of sacrificial victims and of a meal symbolizing covenant fellowship does not carry us beyond the limits of ordinary historical fact. But the description of the mysterious vision of God and of the feast in His presence can only be a mode of symbolical representation, foreshadowing a future spiritual consummation, recorded for our admonition who look and wait for a time when his servants shall serve him and shall
· Exod. xxiv. Cp. Jer. vii. 21 foll. ? Lev. xix. 2; cp. xi. 44 ; xx. 7.
see his face; when they that are called shall sit down at the marriage supper of the Lamb 1.
In the present lecture it is proposed to consider (1) the idea of covenant relationship in general ; (2) the requirement which this relationship involved; (3) the institutions in which the spiritual truths underlying it found a typical outward embodiment; (4) the fulfilment of the levitical types in Jesus Christ.
For our present purpose, which is theological rather than historical, the questions that have been raised respecting the antiquity of the covenantal idea in Israel's religion are comparatively unimportant. There can be no doubt that the Hebrew tradition of an actual covenant concluded at Sinai between God and Israel is constant and unanimous, nor does there seem to be any convincing reason for setting it aside in favour of the idea that the word 'covenant' in this connexion represents only a later mode of conceiving the Sinaitic revelation. Certainly the thought of Israel's covenant status is very prominent in the mind of the author of the priestly document in the Pentateuch. This narrative, which forms the framework of the whole, carries back the tradition of a divinely instituted covenant into the dim prehistoric past. It even regards the relationship of God to the patriarchs as based in each case upon a formal covenant.
Three such compacts are in fact mentioned : the first covenant with Noah, tlie second with Abraham, the third with the newlyformed nation of Israel. In each case there is a distinctive sign. The Noachic covenant is attested by the bow in the cloud; the covenant with Abraham is scaled by the rite of circumcision; the covenant with Israel by the sprinkling of sacrificial blood. Moreover,
1 Rev. xxii. 3, 4; xix. 9.
each covenant had its characteristic obligation, each its accompanying revelation of grace? It is, in short, evident that the covenantal idea was dominant at the period when the Pentateuch was compiled, but there seems to be no sufficient ground for supposing that it was unknown in pre-prophetic times. For our present purpose, however, it is immaterial whether the traditional view is correct, or whether Wellhausen, Stade and others are justified in asserting that the relation between Jehovah and Israel was only thus conceived first in the prophetic period? We are concerned with the total result, as embodied in the Pentateuch, of an historical movement which began with the exodus. It will be generally admitted that, after the exodus, Jehovah instituted between Himself and Israel a special relationship of grace, and that the historical severance from Egypt which constituted Israel the peculiar people of Jehovah', was
3 intended to symbolize an inward separation from the idolatries and immoralities of the heathen world. The question, however, respecting the mode under which this unique connexion between God and Israel was conceived is, I repeat, one of secondary importance. Hosea, although he uses the word mn in more than one passage *, speaks of the relationship under the metaphor of a marriage; while occasionally, like Isaiah, he represents it as an act of divine adoption whereby Israel as a nation became the son of Jehovah . Amos, without employing the term 'covenant' in its theological sense, gives prominence to the idca, in so far as he emphasizes the moral obligations which the connexion between Jehovah and Israel involved. The same conception was probably emphasized by the reformation which followed the publication of the
Cp. Gen. ix. 1-17; xvii. 1-14; Exod. xxiv. 3-8; xxxi. 13-17. 2 Weilhausen, Prolegomena, 417 foll. Cp. Montefore, Hibbert Lectures, pp. 124 foll. See on the other side, König, Religion of Israel, ch. x; Robestson, Early Religion of Israel, note xxii, &c.
bad by Exod. xix. 5. Cp. Num. xxiii. 9. * Hos. vi. 7 ; viii. 1. • Hos. xi. 1; Isa. i. 2 ; cp. Exod. iv. 22.