It is evidently an all-important question, Have we a revelation from God? a communication of His thoughts on which we can rely? Is there nothing certain, nothing certainly known, nothing which enables me to say, I have God’s truth? Have I from God such a revelation of His mind as is authentic and authoritative, such that I can know from Himself what God is?
I cannot trust in man. Man who has not had such a revelation is lost in what degrades human nature. I cannot trust the church or doctors. They too have their history, and what a history it is!—and, in these days they are a reed which, if a man lean on it, breaks and pierces the hand. Where am I to turn to be able to say, Here I have the truth I can love and rest on? Here is what God has given me from Himself? To have this I must have two things: a revelation from God; if every man is a liar, here is truth. But I must have it also communicated authentically to be able to reckon it. It is a matter of fact that men have not known God, nor His character without a revelation. Universal heathenism, civilised and uncivilised, is the witness of it. They have not liked retaining Him in their knowledge when He was revealed to them. It is no use telling me that the worship of Lingam and Yoni, of cats and monkeys and fetishes, is a true knowledge of God. It may prove that man wants a God, that he cannot help having one; but, if so, that he cannot find Him, or will not have Him.
The case then stands thus: I look all around to find God and His truth. The heathen cannot point Him out; I cannot find man among them that is not degraded. He deifies his passions and adds degradation to them.
I am told perhaps, But Plato, does he tell us nothing of God? Well, if I leave the universal heathenism, and enclose myself in the narrow groves of the academy, I find one who teaches the grossest communism, women and all, and makes men and women a mere stock for breeding human beings for the republic, and holds that the supreme God can have no direct communication with the creature; but that it must be by demons, and mediately, perhaps, the logos. He was, with the Rabbinical Jews, strange to say, the inventor of purgatory. The later forms of it brought in Arianism. I cannot find it among Mahometans, nor their paradise of Houris above and the sword below. The Koran, which is on the face of it a wretched imposition—revelations invented for the occasion that called for them—the Koran or the sword is not a revelation of God, save as a judicial scourge of Christendom. The Jews cannot tell me of God, cast out from Him according to their own scriptures. Am I to learn it in the intrigues of the Jesuits, rendering every nation under heaven restless? or in the infallibility of the Pope, which nobody, but grossly ignorant partisans, believes and history gives the lie to? Am I to worship the golden idols of the mother of God set up on steeples and highways where there is power to do so? Is this to be my resting-place?
Shall I turn to Protestants? But the mass of teachers amongst them are infidels in most parts. Perhaps I may have the choice of Puseyism or liberalism, or countless opinions and heresies which contradict and destroy each other. Am I told that there is a real consent in the evangelical creeds? I do not quite admit it; Luther did not think so. They all agree in one thing—baptismal regeneration. But if I inquire whether the teachers believe in the formularies they sign—not one of them: they are obsolete. What am I to do? Say with Pilate, What is truth? and wash my hands in despair and give up Christ to His enemies? But we have the word of God to rest on.
Ah, here there is something—God worthily revealed. But— “the most unkindest cut of all” —it is not, I am now told, the word of God. It is a compilation of various traditions and documents some seven or eight centuries after it professes to be written, drawn God knows whence (only not from Him), and by God knows whom; partly a law produced some seven or eight hundred years after it professed to be written, with some of its documents recognised as already existent, perhaps, at that date; professed prophecies put together by some compiler frequently under some name they do not belong to; a long conflict having subsisted between the moral element and the ceremonial or priestly, but the former got the victory in Ezra’s time, but only then, though they never had the law as it is till Josiah’s time! and yet, strange to say, they got the victory only to fix the nation in ceremonialism and the authority of priestly tradition in which it had never been before! Besides the two chief documents, however, from which the early history is compiled, and other parts suited to them by the compiler, another author has been discovered whose writings are intermingled with the two chief ones, and whose object is to attach importance to the progenitors of northern Israel. Prophets claim an intuition coming from God; still their great object was not future events.
Such are the scriptures. They are, if we are to believe these learned men, not the word of God, but an uncertain compilation flowing from the progress of Israel’s history, partly from priests, under whom the laws grew up, never complete till Ezra, partly from prophets contending with their principles (not, mind, with their sins against God or their breaches of the law, it was not formed yet), partly from lay life in the midst of the people. These are the factors (that is the word) of the Old Testament. As to the New: well, four epistles may be Paul’s, the expression of the higher spiritual life in the Christian; the rest spurious or doubtful, and much of it comparatively a modern attempt to reconcile the Pauline and Petrine factions in the church, or a late fruit of Alexandrian philosophy and reveries or Jewish symbolism.
It is no great wonder if a very large body of the French Protestant clergy declared they would sign nothing, no apostles’ creed, nor anything else; they supposed men would have to believe something, but they did not know what it was yet; and the poor laity, not so learned, but more of babes, said, as I know them to have done, “Pourtant, si nous sommes des Chretiens, il nous faut un Christ quelconque” (Well, but if we are Christians, we must have some kind of Christ). Such is the point to which what is called the church has brought us. Not now priestly ceremonies and traditions combated and corrected by prophets professing divine intuition, but priestly and ecclesiastical ceremonies and traditions bringing weariness to the spirit (where it does not rush to popery as a refuge), merging into heartless and flippant infidelity, living in a speculative pseudo-historical outside, without one spiritual apprehension of the divine substance of what lies at their door and before their heart—speculations which last some twenty years or so, first Paulus’ gross denial of miracles and resurrection, then Strauss with his mythical Christ, and then Baur and the Tubingen school, the false speculative fancies of which are already judged and given up;15 and now the later forms of these and De Wette and the like, warmed up anew for Scotland; as the English in such things generally do when they have passed their day in their native country.
It is admitted that Professor Smith has exaggerated what a child may see in Scripture, and, I add, through ignorance of Scripture not understood it, and that his system as to the books of the New Testament cannot hold water. I shall be told that for all this Astruc’s theory and Baur’s reasoning have produced an immense effect. They have, in those not taught of God; not in substituting any certain system, but in turning lifeless dogmatism into speculative infidelity and scepticism.
And where is the word of God? Where it always was, as light is in the sun. Men may have found olive leaves, and these be broken up into small patches of light, or hang over the spots in a way not to be explained. It may be found that the spots are coincident with auroras and magnetic disturbances; but those who have eyes walk, as they ever did, in its full and clear divinely-given light. It shines as it ever did, and the entering in of the word gives light and understanding to the simple. They have a nature that can estimate it in the true character God gave it, which these learned men have not; for He hides these things from the wise and prudent, and reveals them unto babes. “They shall be all taught of God,” is the declaration of the Lord and the prophet for those who can hear.
That the Old Testament scriptures were collected into their present form a good while before the Lord was on earth, no one is interested in contesting; indeed, far from it, for Christ owns the divisions which now exist. Attributed to the great Sanhedrim, on (it is said) insufficient ground, or referred to Ezra, they were at any rate so collected; though Mr. Smith slurs it quickly over to refer to doubts as to Esther. Josephus is very express. There are not, he tells us, a multitude of books, but just twenty-two: that they had histories and writings after Artaxerxes, but these had not the same authority, they were not tested by prophets. That the books were collected, we can thank God for. Whether the history of Ruth be connected with Judges, or the Lamentations with Jeremiah, or relegated to the Ketubim, is of no sort of consequence. Their place in the history is plain upon the face of them. It is not to the believer a question who wrote Ruth. He receives them as the word of God. God is their author. It is, as Matthew expresses it, upo Kuriou dia tou prophetou—of the Lord by the prophet. It is also true that, in collecting the books, short notes may have been added, such as, There they are to this day, or other brief note of the kind. Such there are, interesting as divinely-given history, but in no way affecting the revelation. The book clearly shews that as a whole it is inspired and ordered in its structure by God; and when all this was done to make it a whole, this divine ordering of God’s hand and wisdom may be in such notes as elsewhere. The question is, Is this book given to us of God as a revelation, given to us as it is? Is what is in it revealed of God, or man’s thoughts?
The book professes to be an account of all God’s ways from the creation (and even in purpose before it) till the Lord comes, and even to the end of time, till God can say gegone, It is done; I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending. It professes further to give us a revelation of the Father in the Son. Is this immense undertaking a revelation of God? or a development of national life in a little petty nation, for our learned men can see no more? No man hath seen God at any time: the only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him. Is this a revelation of God or not? That is, is the account I have of it of God, as God has given it to us? for otherwise it is no revelation to me or to anyone else.
Serious questions these: the very undertaking proves its source. Had man done it, what should we have had? What have we outside this wondrous book? Their theory is, it is an imposture; for giving statements hundreds of years later than their alleged date, as if all were written by inspiration at that date is an imposition, and this from a nation constantly running into idolatry, and condemned by the book! And further (can any but learned men be blessed with such credulity?) persuading the people whom the forgers were condemning by it, that they had always had this law as a law from God Himself, when, if these doctors and the Josiah theory be true, they never had had it at all, it was brand new, or some old traditions furbished up from different old documents for the occasion; and remark further—for this we must now look into—that Christ and His apostles either from God confirmed the delusion, or deceived the people, and all those they taught, on purpose! That an imposture, moreover, is the holiest production that ever appeared in the world, bearing to every one that has any moral sensibilities a divine stamp upon it, which nothing else in the world has! Credat Judceus Apelles. As Rousseau said, It would have been a greater miracle for man to invent such a life as Christ’s, than to be it.
I will touch on some of the grounds they build their theory on; but I first turn to the book itself. First of all, it is treated as a whole by Christ and His apostles as having a well-known and specific character. “The scripture cannot be broken,” John 10:35. “Then opened he their understanding, that they should understand the scriptures,” Luke 24:45. “Search the scriptures,” John 5:39. They were a recognised collection which the Lord owned; and, yet more precisely, owned as we have them now and the Jews had them then. “All things must be fulfilled which are written in the Law of Moses, and in the Prophets and in the Psalms, concerning me.” Here is the Torah, Nebiim, and the Ketubim—the three divisions which the Jews distinguish by the Gradus Mosaicus, Gradus Propheticus, and the Bath-Kol: in the two first, authorised by Numbers 12:6-8; the latter human, in which their idea is that the writer, though inspired, expressed the sentiments animating his own mind, not knowing that all that was contained in it was the mind of the Holy Ghost; which is doubtless true often in such books as the Psalms.
Christ owned, then, what we call the Old Testament, and owned it as we and the Jews have it. But He goes farther; He owns them according to their present character and authors. “Did not Moses give you the law, and yet none of you keepeth the law?” (John 7:19.) “Moses, therefore, gave you circumcision, not because it is of Moses, but of the fathers” (v. 22). “There is one that accuseth you, even Moses in whom ye trust; for had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me; for he wrote of me. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words? “(John 5:45-47). “If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken,” chap. 10:35. This alludes to the Judges being called Elohim in Hebrew; they shall bring him to the “judges” being very commonly Elohim, god or gods. “Abraham said unto him, They have Moses and the prophets, let them hear them. And he said, Nay, father Abraham; but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rose from the dead,” Luke 16:29-31. How true it has been with these poor Jews and these unhappy infidels! Christianity and the resurrection of the Lord are of no avail if Moses and the prophets are not believed, and believed in their writings, for surely they had them. “He wrote of me. If ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?”
Remark further here that Septuagint translations, the “Compiler’s “additions, and all that these speculators allege, were there then the same as now, the same collection, the collection as we have it; and Christ owned and insisted on the authority of that, and that as being Moses’ writings.
But further, after His resurrection, not even when dealing with Jews who owned them, but of and from Himself for His disciples, the risen Lord, “beginning at Moses and all the prophets, expounded to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself,” Luke 24:27. Think of the risen Christ expounding to His disciples a set of ill-compiled and contradictory old documents, pretended to be Moses and the prophets! But this is not all; they will say perhaps—for what will the folly of learned infidelity not say?—they were only the things concerning Himself which He selected. “These are the words which I spake unto you while I was with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the law of Moses, and in the Prophets, and in the Psalms concerning me. Then opened he their understanding that they might understand the Scriptures, and said unto them, Thus it is written.” Ah! the written word is what He valued. Only just think of the risen Lord opening with divine power His disciples’ understanding to understand a spurious compilation professing to be written by Moses and others! That He should do so that we might understand the divine word, we can well conceive, and, if taught of God, we know the need of it; but to do it for an imposition, pretending to be what it is not, an infidel speculator alone would believe. But the “unjust knoweth no shame.”
Again, the Lord recognises the prophets as we have seen, and specifies the one most called in question, Daniel, “the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet.” The reading is called in question in Mark, but not in Matthew, and the reading in Mark confirms the genuineness in Matthew, and further recognises the commandments as given by Moses to be spoken by God: for God commanded saying, Honour thy father and thy mother (Matt. 15:4); and again Isaiah (v. 7), Well did Esaias prophesy concerning you, saying. This is in the first part. But He takes up also the second part of the “Great Unnamed.” There was delivered to Him the book of the prophet Esaias, and when He had opened the book He found the place where it was written (ah! that is the word), The Spirit of the Lord is upon me… And He began to say, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears. He was content to accept it as Isaiah, and affirms, what is of far more importance, and only really so, that it was of God Himself; Luke 4:17-21. In the same chapter He authenticates the books of Kings and the history of Elijah and Elisha. He indirectly authenticates again the last part of Isaiah (Luke 7:27) in the prophecy of John Baptist; Isa. 40:3. I need hardly quote more passages.
The discourses, life, and outgoings of the Lord’s soul, though going necessarily far beyond it, and shewing it was to be set aside, as under the old covenant, for the accomplishment of far more glorious counsels, that the law and the prophets were until John, since then the kingdom of heaven was preached—the whole discourses and life of Jesus, I repeat, if the Gospels be read in simplicity of heart will be found interwoven with the truth of the law and the prophets as they are presented to us in ordinary Bibles, authenticating them as they are, so that you must tear away all the revelation of Christ in them to remove the authority of the law and the prophets. He did not come to destroy, but to fulfil them. Fulfil what? A poor compilation of Ezra’s time, or fragmentary documents made up by man, gradually grown up into a law unknown at the beginning? or the word of God given by inspiration to Moses and those whom Jehovah had sent? He was born in Bethlehem, because by God’s will the prophet had said so. He dies, because if not, how then shall the Scriptures be fulfilled that thus it must be? Till heaven and earth passed, not one jot or one tittle would in anywise pass from the law till all be fulfilled.
I may turn then to the servants of Christ when He had been rejected, the apostles and writers of the New Testament. The apostles, those authorised and sent by Him to announce Christian truth, and inspired by the Holy Ghost for this service, and the other inspired writers of the New Testament affirm, or which in a certain aspect is stronger, assume, everywhere that the Old Testament, as we and the Jews (enemies of Christianity, but in this witnesses with it) have it, is an inspired record, written by those to whom it is ascribed, and given of God. I can understand that the Baurs and Smiths (who, as rocks that, originating nothing, can only repeat a sound) echo them, thinking themselves more competent to tell us what Christianity and the truth is than Christ and His apostles. I have met such, men who did not scruple to say so, though checked somewhat by the scandal so speaking of Christ gave; I have met them in Europe and the United States; but all are not quite fit for that yet. Such thoughts are soon sunk in the deep sea of lifeless infidelity.
Let us inquire then what the apostles or others do say. And first I will take what are called the great Epistles of Paul, what Baur takes as the sure ground of historical Christianity. To begin with the Romans, though chronologically the last of the four, Paul, he tells us, was separated to the gospel of God which He had promised before by the prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, made of the seed of David according to the flesh. Here holy Scriptures, holy writings, are owned; the prophets are God’s prophets; and the whole system announced by them of the promise to the seed of David running through the prophetic writings and Psalms, from Samuel and all the prophets, is fully and clearly owned. Paul founds his own teaching on them, aiding of course the fact of the resurrection. What advantage had the Jews? Much every way, but chiefly what? That unto them were committed the oracles of God. Such were these holy writings. The special blessing, and they had many, was that they had the oracles of God. Poor Paul! to be so dark, untaught, as I have heard such say, by modern science. But what was the force of this? Man’s unbelief could not make the faith of God of none effect. These oracles were so thoroughly of God that His faithfulness was involved in them, in making them good. But He shews Jews and Gentiles all under sin. How is that? It is written; chap. 3:10. The Psalms and Isaiah are warrant for the assertion, and as to the text, the “Great Unnamed” has the passage; Isa. 59. It may be wearisome to quote so many texts; yet they shew that it was not a mere quotation to support a point, but that the apostles lived in, and based their teaching on, what modern rationalists deny.
What (Romans 4) saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, etc. Here Genesis is authenticated as the scripture, the word of God. Next David describeth the blessedness of this man. Here the Psalms are authenticated. Again, in chap. 5:14, it is Genesis 5. Death reigned from Adam to Moses. This was until the law. Here the whole history of Genesis as to the fall of Adam under a law as to the forbidden fruit, no law till Moses, but death reigning by Adam’s fall, then the law being given by Moses changing the ground on which man stood, not as to sin and death, but as to transgression, when there was (as in the two cases of Adam and Moses) an actual law, is treated not merely as a Jehovistic or Elohistic fragmentary compilation, but as God’s account of man’s whole moral standing with Himself till grace was rejected in the gospel, prophesied of indeed, but now actually meeting man’s need as taught by the apostle in this Epistle, which, precious as it is, it is not my business to enter into now.
I pass over some passages confirmatory of this use of the Old Testament, and stop for a moment at chapter 9. Here Israel are dear to him as having law and promises, and even Christ as concerning the flesh. But where was all this shewn to be so when they were a rejected people? Not as though the word of God had taken none effect; and then all the history of Genesis is treated as the word of God, and the account in Exodus is cited, first, as declaring that God spoke to Moses, and then as to the history of Pharaoh. And here it is as Scripture says it. This is for Paul the same as God saying it. Next Hosea is cited as the word of God. “He saith in Osee.” Esaias also crieth, quoted as of the same authority as God speaking in Osee: and this estimate of Scripture we shall find uniform. If he quotes the law (chap. 10), Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law. And here note Deuteronomy is quoted as what Moses says. For the learned men this is the Deuteronomic law first recognised by Jeremiah in Josiah’s time! Perhaps from the latest hand of all, at least if we are to believe Graf. But farther it appears that the “Great Unnamed “was for Paul Isaiah himself. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? (Isa. 53). Then Deuteronomy is again quoted as written by Moses, and the “Great Unnamed “again as Esaias, who is very bold; Isa. 65. Then we have the book of Kings authenticated; Rom. 11. God has not cast away His people. How can I know this is God’s mind? Wot ye what the scripture saith of Elias?… But what saith the answer of God unto him? I can reckon on the scripture as giving me God’s mind and purpose. So if Israel be blinded for a time it is written (chap. 11:8), quoting Deuteronomy 29: “And David saith”: so the Psalms were a true testimony of God to what was going to happen. Again in Romans 15 we find Deuteronomy quoted as “He”; that is, in the formula of quotation, the scripture is God speaking. The Psalms and Isaiah himself are quoted as the word of God.
In Corinthians, a book of church details, the quotations are not so many, but it shews that Scripture is taken for granted as divine. The law is the law of Moses (chap. 9:9); and this is God’s mind, taken for granted as being so. “Doth God take care for oxen? “What Moses taught was what God taught. The history of the Exodus and the wilderness was God’s history of His people, and His dealings with them recorded for our instruction; 1 Cor. 10:1-14. Again (chap. 11:9), the creation of Adam and Eve (Gen. 2) is quoted as a divine account sufficient to build moral duties on. In chapter 15:54, 55, Isaiah and another of the prophets are quoted as fulfilled in resurrection. In 2 Corinthians 3 the account of Moses veiling his face is quoted from Exodus as shewing the true character of the law, and Israel’s state.
Galatians gives us the same testimony. Take chapter 3. The Pentateuch is referred to as a sure and certain testimony for faith, and Scripture spoken of as God Himself, being His word. “The scripture foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith,” than which nothing can be stronger as to the inspired apostle’s estimate of it. Nor is this all. The teaching of Genesis, and promises there made and confirmed (Gen. 12 and 22), and the history of Mount Sinai, are taken in their order as the basis of God’s ways. A promise made unconditionally could not be disannulled or modified by additions 430 years after, and all this identified with its fulfilment in Christ in due time. The place the law holds in God’s ways, and the epochs of it, are made the basis of his argument, and of the true character of Christianity. The promise was what God gave, Christ was its fulfilment, the law came in between, 430 years after the promise, added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made. What for the rationalist is an uncertain compilation of uncertain fragments, the development of national life, is for the inspired apostle the orderly revelation, as it is given in our Bibles, of God’s ways, His own revelation of them historically, so as to form the basis of the true character of Christianity which was in question among the Galatians. The accounts of Hagar and Sarah are for him sure ground to stand upon. Nor has he ever any other thought. If he answers to King Agrippa, he spoke none other things than those which the prophets, and Moses in the law, did say should come. Finally, we find in 2 Timothy 3 a formal testimony to the holy Scriptures, when the church should have the form of godliness and deny the power, with the direct declaration that all Scripture was given by inspiration of God.
John gives us the formal testimony that the law was given by Moses; and John the Baptist’s declaration, quoting the latter part of Isaiah as being of him, and himself the fulfilment of it, as a sure prophecy, and of God. “Moses in the law and the prophets did write “is recorded as a known and received truth; the Psalms equally so. In chapter 2 “the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up.” Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness; chap. 3. What Moses gave (the manna) was not the true bread from heaven; where Exodus and the Psalms are alike authenticated. “It is written in the prophets” is sufficient for the Lord Himself; not a bone was broken, that the scripture might be fulfilled; and His side was pierced that another scripture might be fulfilled, quoting Isaiah. They shall look on Him whom they have pierced; chap. 19.
Peter on the day of Pentecost rests on the authority of Joel, of David in Psalm 16; Acts 2. Moses it was who promised the prophet like himself; chap. 3. Yea, Samuel and all the prophets had spoken of those days, and all the holy prophets are brought in declaring the future blessing that was to come, the heavens receiving Jesus till then. Psalm 2 was being fulfilled; chap. 4:25.
Peter formally declares that the Spirit of Christ was in the prophets, who studied their own prophecies to know what He (1 Pet. 1:11) did signify in them, and quotes Isaiah, what is contained in the scripture, as of sure authority, warranting what was going on; chap. 2:6. He accepts the account of the flood in Noah; chap. 3:20.
The Gospel of Matthew, which specially presents Christ to us as the Messiah of the promises, Emmanuel, on His rejection, the substitution of the kingdom in mystery (chap. 13), the church (chap. 16), the kingdom in glory (chap. 17), bases, I may say, all its statements on the testimonies of the old prophets. Christ is Son of David, Son of Abraham. So numerous are the quotations that I can only notice the formal character of them, and one or two in particular. The formal character is spoken of (upo) the Lord by (dia) the prophet, a definite assertion of their true character. He quotes some as giving the events happening, ina “in order that” the prophecy might be fulfilled, opos “so that” there was a fulfilment, tote “then” when it is only a case in point. The latter part of Isaiah is “Esaias the prophet.”
I need hardly quote more from the writers of the New Testament, besides a multitude of allusions in those I have referred to, to shew that Christ and the apostles accepted the Bible as we have it (I mean the collection of the books of the Old Testament as a whole) as of divine authority, as the word of God, inspired, and of absolute authority with them. It is that by which the Lord overcame Satan, to which Satan resorted to cover his guile. Man had to live by every word which proceeded out of the mouth of God.16 Such is Scripture to the believer by its own intrinsic authority, and the words of Christ and the apostles carry an evidence which no cavils of infidelity can shake, while they call themselves Christians: and the authority of Christ Himself and of the apostles weighs more than the speculations of men, based by each on some new fancy of his own, and though helping on infidelity as it passed and the ruin of man’s hopes, passing away with the influence of the mental energy which created it. I only, in addition, beg my reader to remark that these quotations authenticate the writings and the writers, and the writings as being those of the writer whose name they bear, as well as the truths contained in them as given of God, and that with the authority of Christ and His apostles.
We are left then, according to this system, with no certainty at all as to any truth of God. Objectors have subtilly spoken of authority, but there is no certainty. Not even the statements of the Lord Jesus and the apostles give us any; and, if not, these are uncertain and unauthoritative too, and we are left to the dark mists of infidelity and a world which has historically proved itself wicked and blind, without one sure communication from God.
Before I turn to the more interesting and instructive proofs of the unity of the Old Testament from internal proofs, it may be well to consider for a little the article which gives occasion to these comments. It seems to me slovenly both in substance and in form. On the latter I need not dwell; but when a writer tells us of Jesus speaking of the new dispensation founded on His death as a New Covenant, citing 2 Corinthians 11:25, I am justified in saying it is slovenly. I thought this might be a misprint, but I really cannot make out to what he refers. No scripture ever calls this dispensation a new, or the new covenant, though we get all the blessing of it spiritually. Christ’s blood in the institution of the Lord’s supper is called the blood of the new covenant; and Paul (2 Cor. 3) says He was a minister of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. But this does not call for protracted notice.
But, though the writer speaks of Genesis, having lost sight of the divinely-given use of the Old Testament, all resolves itself into the development of a little nation, with a national God, and more or less priestly superstition. But in Genesis we have the history of the world from the creation to Israel’s going down into Egypt and his death, with all the great principles of God’s relationship with man, except what are properly dispensational. There is not the law, nor the church, the two great subjects of God’s ways afterwards for heaven and on earth. But leaving them aside, you have all the great root-principles of man’s state and relationship with God, and in promise the cradle of all his hopes. Of these we must expect no trace in these heartless systems, but Elohistic and Jehovistic fragments, and interweaving by a compiler, one referring to the priestly party in Israel, the other not; why put together by the compilers, we are not told; but of the state and interests of man, or the glory and purposes of God—though both, as we have seen, are fully wrought into the New Testament as the basis of eternal truth—no hint, no trace. Man fallen, a world judged (a story to which Christ sets His seal), Christ promised, Israel’s hopes founded, and their apostasy, and God’s deliverance of them foretold, all in vain. Grace and judgment, and all God’s ways, Christ promised and come and unfolding them, as did also the apostles, in all their momentous bearings, must give way to Ewald’s “Geschichte,” and Mr. Newman’s “Hebrew Monarchy,” and Baur, and Hupfeld, and Mr. Smith, in speculations which only shew they can see nothing where God has, in its germ, laid down everything that casts light upon a ruined world (for a ruined world it is), and God’s dealings in grace with it.
But it is only fair to shew that the statements are slovenly: perhaps flimsy or superficial would be a more correct word. The theory is that there was a gradual development of the law. From Joshua to Samuel national feeling was much weaker than tribal jealousy. That there was a general dissolution, through idolatry and all seeking their own, is true, and Ephraim claimed a place hardly owned by others; but this broke out far worse afterwards even in David’s time, and after Solomon’s death divided the kingdom.
During the time of the Judges, we are told, the sanctuary and priesthood of the ark was the chief centre of monotheism. Of course it was at all times; there could be no other. There was no mercy-seat but there; there could be no day of atonement without it. Samuel, it is said, was by education a priest; but it was as prophet, not as priest, he accomplished his work. He never was a priest, and could execute no priestly office. Afterwards, to shew the progress, we are told that he fully sanctioned Exodus 20:24, and did not act on Deuteronomy 33:19. All this is utter neglect of both the letter and the mind of Scripture. There was no sanctuary at all during Samuel’s activity. A tremendous judgment had fallen on Israel. Jeremiah refers to it (chap. 7) as prognostic of what would happen to Jerusalem.
There are three offices, as is often said, through which God has to do with His people—prophet, priest, and king. The priesthood, which was set to guide even Joshua, had utterly failed. Eli died broken-hearted, his two sons slain, and the ark of God taken. There was no restoration of the ark till the king restored it, though God sustained His own glory. The link of the people with God on the ground of their own responsibility, with priestly mediation, was entirely broken: no day of atonement, it could not be; Ichabod was written on it all. God had “delivered his strength into captivity; his glory into the enemy’s hand.” But a prophet is sovereign interference, and God could not be debarred this, and He had prepared Samuel as He had prepared Moses. Samuel maintained the worship of Jehovah as an acknowledged prophet and judge. But as a system the people failed here too, and demanded a king; and God gave them a king in His anger, and took him away in His wrath. Then God by Samuel called David, who became king and brought back the ark, but to Zion, not to the tabernacle; which was no longer at Shiloh, but at Gibeon, without any ark or mercy-seat at all; it was not owned by David. Solomon went there; but David, guided as he was and taught of God, placed singers at the ark to say “His mercy endureth for ever.”
In spite of all their sins, power in grace had wrought restoration. The record is repeated in Nehemiah of the same faithfulness of God, and in the closing psalms, predictive of Israel’s future blessing prepared to be sung with greater testimony to its truth than ever, after Jerusalem has received at the hand of the Lord double for all her sins (Isa. 40:2), and that in the kingly power of Christ in grace. Hence, in Hebrews Zion is contrasted with Sinai, the place of the law and the old covenant. Such is the scriptural statement of the matter. The thoughts about Samuel and the difference of the altars overlooks the whole real history of Israel at that time. Samuel acted with prophetic authority when there was no ark, and the whole priestly order was judicially set aside. The prophets did refer to the moral state of the people largely, but prophesied of a Messiah to come and grace for Israel and a new covenant. But God owned no covenant as the old covenant, but what He had made with Israel in coming out of Egypt. This is what is expressly referred to.
There is no thought of a development of religious ordinances from a relatively crude and imperfect state. The prophets recalled Israel to a well-known system: but it will be found that the blessings and judgments in Judah, which still owned the temple and Jehovah, were invariably dependent on the conduct of the king, under whom they were placed, and on whose conduct blessing or the contrary depended. We are told, indeed, that the proof of the development view “cannot here be reproduced.” It is a pity: still the author does his best. I only remark that, while there was progressive prophetic light, the kings ordered the details of priestly service, as David did, and was inspired for it. As a system, the headship of the priest was given up in Shiloh, though not their exclusive service. We are told that the prophets, when they failed to produce immediate reformation, began from the eighth century, if not earlier, to commit their oracles to writing. Reformation of what? Who were these prophets? The eighth century was Hezekiah’s reign. This was about four hundred years from Samuel. There were from time to time prophets who gave warnings; but what reformation were they attempting? All this is fable. David set up the new system, and “Solomon built him a house.” Ten tribes went off because of the folly of the king, had no priests but false ones, and afterwards two most remarkable prophets, who wrought miracles authenticating their mission; which the Jewish ones did not, because Jehovah was publicly owned, and the whole system they recalled Israel to was fixed long ago, and owned by the people. The reforming prophets from Samuel to the eighth century is a fancy of the writer’s. The former prophets (Samuel, and Kings) give us the history, and this was what God meant them to do. That they were the chroniclers is often repeated and easily shewn.
But to return to inquire for the proofs of the development of crude ordinances: if I read Exodus and Leviticus, they may be wise or not, yet they are not crude but elaborately detailed, and, if true at all, framed according to a pattern shewn on the mount. If they were not established by Moses, the whole history is a fable, utterly false from beginning to end; for “Jehovah said unto Moses” is the emphatic authority, save a few to Aaron, where it was special priestly service in what was established; and, I ask, was the pattern shewn on the mount a crude thing, to be developed by Moses? But the proofs— An altar of earth or unhewn stone is commanded, if they made one (Exod. 20), and this Samuel did when there was no priestly service and Shiloh was judged, and so did Elijah when Israel had left the temple. It guarded against idolatrous imagery. But we are reminded that God was to put His name in one place, according to Deuteronomy, and so He did, and faithful kings were constantly destroying the high places (for planting trees was equally forbidden), thinking to bring back things to order, not to make progress or develop. In Exodus 20 He speaks of recording His name in a place, and there He would meet them—blessed promise! But the next thing in the same book is the history of the tabernacle, to which in the wilderness they were bound to bring every animal they killed in the camp or out of the camp, under pain of death; and in the same Jehovistic account, if you will have it so, they are to appear before Jehovah at the three great feasts. Talking of development as to this is really nonsense: the earthen altar is the first ordinance given—a development, I suppose, of the crude details of the tabernacle given after; and then we jump to Samuel!
The quotation of Deuteronomy 33 is a prophecy of the last days of Israel in the blessing of Moses, the man of God. Even so they call the people to the mountain. What mountain? There they shall offer sacrifices of righteousness. Why should it not be the mountain of Jehovah’s house established on the top of the mountains? This is a prophecy for the last days too. In Deuteronomy we have the three great feasts, and their going to the appointed place obligatory, and images and groves forbidden—all Jehovistic. The full directions as to going to the place where God had set His name are in Deuteronomy 12, when the Lord should have given them rest, and what they might eat at home and what not. But this had been even more strictly imposed in the camp, because in the land the distance might be too great, an altar of brass being made in the same book and place according to the pattern shewn on the mount.
Deuteronomy is a peculiar book, penned evidently for the confusion that might be found in Israel when scattered about the land. The Levites hold a much more considerable place, and the people. The Levites are not priests, as the article says, but the priests are very rarely mentioned, and provision made for this state of things, yet anything but development of ordinances. It is for the land entirely; Exodus and Leviticus, with very rare exceptions, exclusively for the wilderness. Probably, from what Amos and Stephen say, not one sacrifice, unless the regular daily ones, was ever offered. The history, though doubtless their duty then, is one of types, and written for our instruction, on whom the ends of the world are come; and though this be said of their history, yet the types of the sacrifices and the like are precious to every one that knows Christ. He knows Christ, our Passover, is sacrificed for us; he knows what Pentecost prefigured; and if intelligent in the things of God, what Tabernacles are too, not yet fulfilled; but to these things I will revert. Thank God, they were perfect at first, and only properly so then. All was made according to the pattern shewn to Moses on the mount. Rationalists may despise the New Testament too, and despise Alexandrian Epistles to the Hebrews; but we have not yet learnt that the most wonderful display of grace, holiness, and wisdom, wrought into a whole that none can rend, is only an imposture.
But the other proofs?—Ezekiel’s temple. This is instruction for the restoration, not the historical one. Then instead of Jehovah-Shammah and the prince, they were miserable captives to the kings God had set over them in His anger; at least so Nehemiah thought. It is prophecy for a time after Gog is destroyed, so that all the nations may know that Jehovah is Israel’s God, who had led them into captivity, and brought them out, and left none of them there at all. For there will be such days, let rationalists think what they like. It is a prophecy; in nothing an historic proof of any development made after the Exodus. When Ezra fixed the legal state of Israel, he did not fix Ezekiel’s temple. This is really child’s-play, fit only for rationalists. This, the writer tells us, is his “clearest proof,” unless we may suppose the unreproduced ones may be.
But there remains yet one as to which the writer makes a pretty round assertion—Josiah’s book. “The legislation of this book does not correspond with the old law in Exodus, but with the book of Deuteronomy.” So it is stated. I must suppose he refers to there being one place of worship; but this was more strictly fixed in Exodus when the tabernacle was set up (that is, at first) than in Deuteronomy, only one for the land, the other for the wilderness. But of the contents of the book there is not one word in the Kings. I do not exclude from what Josiah says Deuteronomy more than Exodus or Leviticus, in which last we have the most terrible threatenings of all (see chap. 26). Josiah heard the words of the book of the law, and his heart was tender; but he had no idea of a new book or a new law. It was the book of the law that was found. In the long reign of Manasseh it had been utterly neglected; but he speaks of it as no new thing. “Great is the wrath of Jehovah that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not hearkened unto the words of this book.”
I have now completed the consideration of the produced proofs of the development of crude ordinances under the law. Rebellion, idolatry, desertion of Jehovah, gracious dealings on His part, and “hewing” them by prophets there was, and growing light as to Messiah; a new order of the details of service as to song and temple service by inspiration through David; a provision for walk in the land and failure in Deuteronomy; but of development from the pattern shewn in the mount not a trace. The writer tells us Ezra came with “the book of the law of Moses.” Yet, according to him, it was not the law of Moses; but, if the Pentateuch be not all false, an improved code on what God had established by Moses. How “a nation which had attained a high degree of literary culture” was to be enlightened “in spite of the crass and unspiritual character of the mass of the people,” I may leave to rationalists to explain. It is grammatico-historical exegesis, I suppose. Was I unjust in saying the article was superficial in form and substance?
I refer to one passage more. He alleges 1 Samuel 8:7 as contradicting Deuteronomy 17. But how God in anger, as Himself rejected and giving the people their own way and telling them how it would turn out, is a contradiction of a statement of how it ought to be done, is beyond me. If my reader is not weary of such futilities, I am; they are characteristically rationalist.17
I may turn to Astruc’s and his followers’ Jehovistic and Elohistic documents. According to Mr. F. Newman, they can be separated by mechanical means—a pair of scissors, for instance. With this I agree. It is an apposite statement. They can be separated with nothing else. But are these learned men incapable of making a difference between God abstractedly as a supreme and self-existing Being, and a relative name in which He makes Himself known to men, so as to be in special relation with them? My father is a man; but, besides that, he is my father without ceasing to be a man. Supposing I took the New Testament and said there must be two documents which scissors could separate because He is called God and Father? But Father is given as a relative name in the New Testament as much as Jehovah in the Old.
Abstractedly I have no objection to more documents than one, provided I have the result from “the mouth of God”; but in their reasonings after Astruc I see no proof of anything else than the absence of moral or any sense, and that, being empty in mind of divine truth, this fancy of Astruc’s was one they could spin cobwebs out of. What fly but a rationalist would be caught by Hupfeld’s third author of the northern party, and Mr. Smith’s curious remark on it— “His literary individuality is, in truth, sharply marked, though the limits of his contributions to the Pentateuch are obscure”? This is strange! “literary individuality sharply marked, but the limits of the contributions obscure”: their character is sharply marked, but it is obscure where they begin and end. Who will explain this for me?
But how does Scripture present the subject? God is God, but God has entered into relationship with men. These relationships are fourfold in Scripture, all referring to God abstractedly as such: El Shaddai (God Almighty); Jehovah (unhappily translated in English Lord in capitals, as a rule; better in French, l’Eternel); Father, which, save in mere figures, is entirely a New Testament name; and Elion, Most High, which, while revealed in promise is God’s millennial name, and will be displayed as possessor of heaven and earth, all antagonistic power being set aside. And these are clearly thus set forth in Scripture, though the last be less clearly, as being yet future.
The two first are expressly distinguished. Thus Exodus 6:2, 3: “And Elohim said unto Moses, I am Jehovah; and I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob by the name of El Shaddai, but by my name Jehovah was I not known to them.” Not that He was not Jehovah, but He did not give Himself this name in His ways with them. (See Genesis 17, 28 and 32.) With Israel He was then Jehovah, as the great question was settled on Mount Carmel; “Jehovah, he is Elohim.”
With Christians, the Son Himself being come, the Father is revealed, as the Lord Himself says (John 17): “I have manifested thy name to the men thou gavest me out of the world… Holy Father, keep through thine own name… And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it, that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.” So Paul: “When the fulness of time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons; and because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.” Blessed privilege! peculiar to those to whom, through faith in Jesus, He has given the title to take the place of sons, for we are all the sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.
The first time we get Most High is when Melchisedek comes to meet Abraham. Not that God was not ever the Most High, but He had not taken it as a revealed name with His people on the earth. Here was a greater than Abraham, who blesses him after his full victory over his enemies. And God takes this title, not in connection with Abraham (which was El Shaddai, though he owns Him as such and as Jehovah too), but with the mysterious personage, figure clearly (according to Psalm no, as developed also in the Hebrews) of Christ, King of righteousness, King of peace, now sitting on the right hand of the Father, on the Father’s throne (Rev. 3:21), not yet on His own, a priest after the similitude of Aaron now though not after his order, but who shall come forth at the sounding of the seventh trumpet, when Jehovah-Elohim-Shaddai shall take to Him His great power and reign; the Ancient of days who sits on His throne, but the Ancient of days who comes (Dan. 7), whom the King of kings and Lord of lords, the blessed and only Potentate, shall shew, but who is King of king and Lord of lords; when, after the last confederacy against Israel (Psa. 83), through the judgment of the confederate enemies, men shall know that He whose name alone is Jehovah is the Most High, Elion, in all the earth, as the punishment of the host of the high ones on high shall have shewn Him Most High there (Isa. 24:21), the Son of God and Son of man to whom all judgment is committed. So when the Gentile power, which God set up when He took His throne from Jerusalem, Nebuchadnezzar, comes to his senses, he writes, “I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted up my eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the Most High, and I praised and honoured him that liveth for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom from generation to generation,” Dan. 4:34. I do not quote Daniel 7 for Most High, save verse 25, because the word is plural and means, I doubt not, “the high” or “heavenly places.” In verse 25, however, the beast speaks words against Elion bringing in judgment by them. But the kingdom of the Son of man is then set up. The little stone will have dashed the feet and toes of the image to pieces in judgment, and becomes then a great mountain which fills the whole earth; Dan. 2.
Who then is this Most High? This is the question so beautifully discussed in a poetic dialogue in Psalm 91. There are two great subjects in Scripture when personal reconciliation to God is settled. Sovereign grace puts poor sinners in the same glory as the Son of God, that He may be the first-born among many brethren, which is not our subject now—displayed in the transfiguration.18 The other is the government of this world (see Deut. 32:8, 9), of which the Jews are the centre, as the church is of the heavenly glory under Christ. Our present subject is the Old Testament, the earthly part. Here then Jehovah, the Jewish name of Elohim, is in question. Who then is the Most High? He who has this secret will be blessed. He who dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of Abraham’s God, the Almighty. Who shall say where the Most High is to be found? Messiah says, I will take Israel’s God (Jehovah) as the Most High; I will say of Jehovah, He is my refuge. Verses 3-8 are the answer. Then Israel speaks, Because thou hast made the Lord (Jehovah) which is my refuge, even the Most High, thy habitation, there shall no evil come nigh thy habitation. Verses 10-13 continue this. This is the passage by which Satan sought to tempt the Lord Jesus to try Jehovah if He would be as good as His word, acting in self-will out of the path of obedience; efforts which crumbled to nothing in impotency before the authority of that word which rationalists deny, but which the Lord trusted and authenticated as proceeding out of the mouth of God. In verse 14 to the end Jehovah declares His mind, closing grandly the dialogue, and putting His seal on Messiah’s confidence in Himself, on whom He had set His love, as having taken the form of a servant. Here Jehovah, Israel’s God, is shewn to be the Almighty and Most High, in the latter character bringing in the blessing of the earth: Jehovah, my God, even the Most High, has the blessing promised to Abraham. “Father” is of course left out, the name which belongs to the heavenly family when the Jews are cast off for having rejected Jesus, a state of things coming in between the end of the sixty-nine and the last half of the seventy weeks of Daniel, “the time of Jacob’s trouble,” (See Daniel 9.)
Hence, in the scriptures of the Old Testament, Jehovah is the name regularly taken up by the writer, whose whole calling was by the revelation of it (Exod. 6), and by all the prophets of the nations whose God He was. But it was of all importance to them that He was that God who is the ehyeh asher ehyeh, “I am that I am,” God ever existing, subsisting in Himself and creating all else. And this is one great truth of what I may call the translation of the name in the Apocalypse; not “who was, and is, and is to come,” but “who is” (o on), “who was” the God known of old, the promiser withal, and who is the “coming one” o erchomenos, when He will be Ancient of days, and Most High, possessor of heaven and earth, and His name known (even that Jehovah, and Jehovah alone, is so) over all the earth.
Hence, too, it was all-important that this same Jehovah should be known as Abraham’s God who had, and first had (save Christ prophetically) the unconditional promise. (See the historic basis of all this which Joshua 24 gives us.) Even Shem’s race had fallen into idolatry (of which there is no trace before the flood), and Abraham’s own family. Then God calls out Abraham out of the order and connection He Himself had formed, country, kindred, and father’s house, to be to Himself, to a country He would shew him. Sovereign grace which chose him, the calling of God, and the promises were the great principles brought out when the world was not only wicked before God but had put demons in His place. The revelation of the church was only after Pentecost; but Abraham is the root and starting-point of the blessed race. Adam was the head of a fallen race; individual saints we have from Abel, and the judgment of wickedness in the flood, and government set up in Noah to restrain it; but in Abraham first is the head of a race that belonged to God in the earth, be it according to the flesh or the Spirit, the root of the olive tree of God; Rom. 11.
Many are the important lessons connected with this, but I cannot touch on them now. Jehovah, the God of Israel, was the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob. This was His name for ever, this His memorial for all generations; Exod. 3:15. God as God, the Being who is, not a creature who begins (esti, not ginetai), but exists in Himself—the Almighty, who called the vessel of promise without condition, and Jehovah the God of Israel under whom the Jews took the promises under condition of obedience,19 must be identified. Hence, while it was of all importance to keep God’s essential name of God, and God self-existent contrasted with every creature, and to keep this essential character present before their minds, it was equally so to shew Jehovah was that God, not a mere country god as those of the heathen. This, and the difference of promise on condition, and unconditional, we shall find running through the Old Testament from the Pentateuch to Nehemiah;20 and the distinction is the basis of Paul’s reasoning in the New Testament.
We find then, when it was what God as God did or was, it is God, Elohim: where it is the account given by those who knew Jehovah, it is Jehovah; and when the solemnity of the name of God as such is to be added to God known in relationship, it is Jehovah Elohim; when in special bearing upon Israel, it is Jehovah thy God, or our God—so constantly as a personal address in Deuteronomy. A spiritual-minded person will always feel the difference between the two. It may be the mere state of feeling sometimes expressed in it; sometimes it is of real importance when God’s glory, as such, is concerned in it.
An analogous difference is found in the New Testament. Not only is it said, Come out from the world, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith Jehovah Shaddai; but in Hebrews, where the question is how man can approach God, as such, we never find the Father—it is always God; nor in the Revelation (save chap. 14, where His name is written on the foreheads of the special remnant there mentioned, but it is His Father). It is the throne of the government of the world which is in question, and it is Jehovah Elohim Shaddai, Lord God Almighty, as in chapters 4, 11 and 15.
In John’s writings, while as to what concerns the nature of God, the name God is used—as “God so loved,” “God is love,” “God is light”—and the same as regards our responsibility in respect of it, the moment the divine action in grace is spoken of, it is Father. Thus, chapter 4, God is a Spirit, and they that worship Him, must worship Him in spirit and in truth, “for the Father seeketh such to worship him.” This comes out in a striking way in the first four verses of 1 John 1, and in the rest of the chapter. So in chapter 1:18 of the Gospel, and it will be found to run through all his writings. Suppose I were to say, Here is a Patristic and a Theistic document, and use “the scissors “to make the difference: it would prove nothing but alienation from God and moral incapacity. The principle is just the same.
In the Psalms the difference of Jehovah and Elohim is most marked. In the first book it is always Jehovah, the remnant is in Jerusalem, covenant blessings not lost. In Psalm 42 they are confessedly outside, worship in Jerusalem is remembered. There it is God. So in Psalm 63 it is God Himself. In Psalm 84 it is the tabernacles of Jehovah, though still of course God there. In the second book Messiah having been brought in, it passes in Psalm 45 from God to Jehovah and the God of Jacob. God Himself having interfered in their favour, and deliverance having come, He is Jehovah Elion (Most High) and a great King in all the earth, though (Psa. 48) He reigns in Zion.
I might go through the book of Psalms (and indeed have done it), and shew the constant fitness of the names used. There the truth that God Himself is their God, Most High, Jehovah, is fully developed; but their Father would not be found from Psalm i to 150, nor the Spirit of adoption which uses it. It is the government of the world, and that as Jehovah, great in Zion, God Himself, their (Israel’s) God. But these instances must suffice. The attentive reader, waiting on the Lord, will readily, on reading the Psalms, apprehend the force of the expressions. To make two writers is simply absurd.
Mr. Smith tells us that “in a large part of the Psalter a later hand has systematically substituted Elohim for Jehovah”; and the proof? Stat pro ratione voluntas. There is simply none: a more utter incapacity for seizing the divine side of the contents of divine writings I never saw than in the remarks on the Psalms. The structure of the book, even as plainly shewn in its contents, and the different subjects of the five books or divisions found in it, there is not a glimpse of, though it lies really on the surface of the collection, and indeed shews a divine hand in collecting them. But this would be too large a subject to enter on here.
I only remark that, to get rid of the proof of the absurdity of the Elohistic and Jehovistic scheme, for which even the “mechanical means” would not suffice here, he boldly asserts they have had one name substituted for another, without an attempt at proof, or shadow of it. They are not “reproduced.”
The stupid remark as to Elihu, borrowed from Mr. F. Newman, or perhaps by him too from “some learned German,” recalls me to Job. In the most perfect way Elihu comes in (when the friends would have it that this world was an adequate proof of God’s moral government, which Job rightly denied, though his heart rose up against God too), and as the interpreter, one among a thousand, he shews there is a discipline of the righteous, blaming the friends, yet shewing how Job was wrong too. He stands in a mediatorial character, a kind of daysman, to explain God’s way, before Jehovah comes in in His majesty. I cannot conceive more total want of spiritual perception than this borrowed judgment as to Elihu. Yet I might have left this, but that I would remark that, in the introduction and in the account given at the end, Jehovah is found in the writer’s part: in all the intercourse of Job with his friends, and Elihu, God and Almighty. What can the scissors do here? Cut the head and tail off, and lose the key to and the conclusion of the whole story.
Take another case. In the Proverbs it is always “Jehovah”— (I think there is one exception)—the direction of practical wisdom for those who had Jehovah for their God. In Ecclesiastes it is always “God,” because it is the vanity of man’s path and efforts after happiness here below in contrast with what God is as such. It is not a condition of covenant relations but man as such, and it is not therefore Jehovah.
Now in Genesis i and 2 to the end of verse 3 we have the great fact that God created. It is simply this truth known to no heathen (not that Jehovah, God known under a particular name of relationship, but) that God created the universe, and creatures, and man, and rested the seventh day. This completes that all-important statement. We know it by faith; Heb. 11. Then begins a new subject, not a new account of creation. This is not so. It is barely and very briefly alluded to in connection with there being no man; and then the condition, nature, and moral position of man is detailed, where God put him, under what conditions, the place of animals, and the woman. It is not that God created, but the condition and status of man before Jehovah Elohim. That God who was the one true God with whom man had to do, but had revealed Himself as Jehovah to him who told the story of all His ways from the fall, and man without law, and a judged world, and restraint and promise and law, and indeed, the whole condition of man with God till grace came and the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour; though of course the historical details up to law are given afterwards, God having taken up a people by redemption so to try man. Every principle of the whole history is given us in Genesis, only on the basis of promise, not of law and redemption and God’s presence on the earth, which is in Exodus and what follows. But he who learnt this plan at the first connects that name Jehovah—a God of judgment—with the origin of it all. The Elohim of chapter 1 is the Jehovah of Exodus 6, and the narrative of Jehovah recounts all the history, up to law, of the true Elohim who now reveals Himself as testing man under law. To say that there are two accounts of creation is utterly untrue; there is nothing of the kind, no trace of it, but a special statement of man’s state and condition as to God and all the creation around him; let it be shewn if there be.
In chapter 3 we have the writer using the term Jehovah Elohim. The great truth now comes out, but Satan saying in the same sentence, “Yea, hath God said?” to Eve; speaking in no sense of revealed relationship, God the Creator had said: so Satan again “God doth know.” But the writer says they heard the voice of the Lord God (Jehovah Elohim), and so of all that follows. To make the first verse two distinct documents is just simply absurd. In chapter 4, Eve, taking up a promise, says, though mistakenly, “I have gotten a man from Jehovah.” Here we have always Jehovah, not Jehovah Elohim, a simple history, not the solemn tale of man’s ruin in his relationship with God. Is this a third document? In verse 25 God, says Eve, has appointed me. This speaks merely of the fact of what God, who works all things, had given her. In chapter 5 we have God again as such; nor could you say in the likeness of Jehovah, because it is a relative name, one specially revealed as to God, not that of the Creator, the divine Being. So Enoch walks with God. The earth (chap. 6) was corrupt before God as such. Yet the writer always speaks of Jehovah and His dealings (vv. 3, 5, 6, 7). And “God” deals with the earth as so corrupted; again, verse 22, as “God” commanded him, not Jehovah. Then in chapter 7 Jehovah said to Noah, and as Jehovah (v. 5) commanded him; then as God commanded him (v. 9), and again as God commanded him, and Jehovah shut him in (v. 16). Here again if you separate the verse into two, the last part refers to and connects with nothing, for Elohim is the word used when Noah went in.
In Deuteronomy 4:32-34 where Elohim stands by itself in its proper force of Elohim, did God ever do such a thing as Jehovah our God has done? It is the force of the words, not two different accounts. To Joshua 24 they presented themselves before God as such, and Joshua said, Thus saith Jehovah, the God of Israel. That is, not only I find cases to which the fancies of Astruc cannot apply, but I find the reason why there are the two words.
One more case remains to refer to, mentioned by the article, that of Joseph. This is to be by Hupfeld’s third author, a northern. It agrees, we are told, with the Elohistic author in a great part in the use of the name of God (Elohim), but is widely divergent in other respects. But this slurs over the facts to cover what upsets the theory. The first part of the account is Jehovistic; that is, the writer’s account of Joseph uses the name of Jehovah. He says, Jehovah was with Joseph. That is, Moses knew the faithful One who bore this name with Israel, as he says, when God commanded Noah, and he went into the ark, Jehovah shut him in; when he recites what passes between Joseph and the dreaming servants of Pharaoh and Pharaoh himself, he of course says God. What had they to do with Jehovah, or any relationship with Him? In the rest of the recital of facts it is Elohim.
But a second account is out of the question; they are two parts of the same one. What brought “Jehovah” and “God” both into it? Was it a northern author? Jacob in his trial turns back to the God of promise and calls him El Shaddai. And, in Joseph’s discourse to his brethren, it is clearly God as such in contrast with his brethren’s (man’s) doings. In Jacob’s blessing Ephraim and Manasseh, while referring to God Almighty, he naturally desires a blessing from God upon them, not covenant blessings from Jehovah, but God’s blessing on them. What the widely divergent things are, we are left to guess.
It is well to remember that these German writers start with the assumption that no account which relates miracles can be historical. That is, they beg the whole question to begin with. Inspiration is itself a miracle; creation is the greatest miracle of all, the intervention of God’s will and power to produce that which would not have been without it. I am quite aware of the question of general laws, which, after all, are only the constant operation of God’s will, and cannot therefore preclude its action. Let us remember, too, that the absolute denial of action, independent of general laws, denies Christianity altogether; for resurrection is not a general law nor natural sequence. Death is not a cause of resurrection. But if Christ be not risen, our faith is vain, and, as Paul tells us, the witnesses of Christianity are false witnesses. Let me add the remark here, that, in a book otherwise interesting and useful, the Duke of Argyle has slurred over this point. If miracle cannot be historical, Christ is not risen, and if Christ be not risen, Christianity is not true.
This is not the ground, if I understand the article in the Encyclopædia Britannica, which its author takes; but this will come up if we go on to the New Testament: as yet we are occupied with the Old. Now as to this, if the German theory be true as reproduced in the article, the whole of the Old Testament is an imposition; I mean if the law be not a system established of God by Moses, as we find it, but a late compilation in which crude materials were adjusted, and a system developed out of national life. As far as the law goes, it all professes to be words addressed by God to man through the mouth of Moses. Genesis has necessarily another character, equally requiring direct inspiration; for who among men can give an account of creation and the world’s history, and a history on which all God’s dealings with men (save the church and the law, of which we have spoken) are founded in their principles, and, as we have seen, the New Testament is based? Nor, indeed, can the beginning of Exodus be separated from the end of Genesis. I need not quote texts to shew that “Jehovah said unto Moses,” and in this way communicated His will to the children of Israel, is the constant language of the law. It is a clear positive revelation of God’s words and will by Moses as it stands, or it is an imposture. In Deuteronomy Moses rehearses it all, and speaks to the people, insisting on obedience, and recalling all that had passed in order to enforce it and keep them from idolatry, adding details of civil government for the land. Documents may or may not have been used; but the whole contents are, either a history and the original establishment of God’s law for the people, with the deepest typical instruction for us, given by Moses from God; or an imposture.
The adding an account of Moses’ death at the end of Deuteronomy does not touch this question. Mr. Smith tells us that copyists added what they liked, and did not feel themselves in the least bound to distinguish the old from the new; there was no notion of anything like copyright; they took large extracts and harmonised them by such additions and modifications as they thought necessary. A nice thing to rest one’s faith on as the word of God, Scriptures that cannot be broken! But lawyers say, “Allegatio ejusdem rei cujus dissolutio petitur nil valet”; and what is the proof the Semitic genius, the Bible, is a stratification, not an organism? What proof has he of the Semitic genius? The Bible. There is no other ancient Hebrew book. And the question is, Is it such an unauthentic compilation? We have nothing but his assertion about the Bible itself, except that there were cells in the temple—that of course not being arranged according to God’s direction either, it was the Semitic genius!
I need not say that the prophets openly declare their inspiration, that “The word of Jehovah came to them,” “Thus saith Jehovah,” and the like; that in the history, as of Kings for example, it is openly stated that they used the royal chronicles. But prophets used them and drew them up, as we have the example in Isaiah, that we might have them as the word of God. That God is not mentioned in Esther is just the opposite, as shewing the secret providence of God keeping His people when they were scattered and disowned of Him as a nation.
Thus not only have the Lord and the apostles owned the Old Testament as we possess it as God’s inspired word, but it presents itself, as to the law as the direct fruit of Moses’ communication with God, given fully and in detail originally, and the prophets, as the direct communication of God’s mind and words from Himself; and all of it—history, psalms, and all—as an organic whole owned of the Lord Himself, and whose perfection, as such, will be perceived by those whose understandings He has opened, and who learn the whole scheme of God Himself.
In passing from the discussion of particular points and objections to a direct inquiry into more positive and essential evidence from the contents of Scripture, I recall to every heart that the question is—Is there a revelation from God? Man is departed from God. Is there any revelation from God by which, as far as the revelation of God goes, man can know Him? We know what man has come to without it. Are we to be left as the heathen, if haply we may feel after Him and find Him? or was there really a law given by Moses, and are grace and truth come by Jesus Christ? We have seen that the Lord declares the writings which the Jews received to be the writings of Moses, and does so not only to the Jews but to His disciples, and that He opened their understanding to understand them—the apostles the same, basing their arguments on the truth and contents of them. To one who is not audacious in incredulity this is sufficient. To those who affirm that a miraculous history must be unhistorical (that God cannot act, or will not at all now, having once established an order of nature), and so decide the question before it is examined, the statements of Christ or the apostles have no weight. But then it is pure impudence to call themselves Christians. It is flagrant dishonesty to accredit themselves with a name while they reject all it imports. We may earnestly desire their conversion, but that is all. They labour on what they hold to be an imposture, and profess to be followers of the imposture, and would have us believe that the holiest, most gracious, deepest, and yet truest and fullest communication of the knowledge of God is by an imposture. This is hard to think; but it is this we have to do with.
But again, there are those who believe there is a revelation, yet no inspired divine communication of it to others. Some allege that it is not even claimed. Now, see how rational this is. God has thought good to give a revelation of Himself, His truth, His grace, to men at large for their good; He has made this revelation, but in such a manner that it can go no farther in its perfectness than the person who receives it. It is given for the good of all, and perfectly given; but it stops at the first person who is the vessel of reception and communication, and to the rest comes only in the imperfection of man as to apprehension and communication; a divine communication for men, but by divine arrangement so communicated that it never reaches men as such! Nothing they can trust as divine is communicated to them. Can anything be more absurd?
But Paul states the case: When it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by His grace to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the heathen. There was a revelation to him for this purpose by God, but he could not do it! though for others, it could not reach them, actually given for them, but in such a manner that it could not reach them. This is the theory. But he did not handle the word of God—mark what it was—deceitfully; he did not adulterate the pure wine, but by manifestation of the truth commended himself to every man’s conscience in the sight of God; 2 Cor. 4. Sc the Thessalonians received it, not as the word of man, but, as it was in truth, the word of God (1 Thess. 2:3); so that if (2 Cor. 4) his gospel was hid, it was hid to them that were lost. Their minds were blinded by the god of this world. In 1 Corinthians 2 he states it formally: “Which things also we speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth… But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God… they are spiritually discerned.” They are revealed by the Spirit (vv. 10-12); communicated in words which the Holy Ghost taught, that others might have them as God revealed them to Paul (v. 13), and discerned by the Spirit (v. 14). (Compare verses 4, 5.) And such he asserts everywhere. The things which he wrote were to be received as (and were) the commandments of the Lord. The Old Testament prophets and Moses declare what they communicate is Jehovah speaking; so does the apostle.
Not only then is the Bible a revelation from God, but the communication of it is His work too—Thus saith Jehovah, or Jehovah said, in the Old, or “in words which the Holy Ghost taught” in the New; so that what we have is the word of God. It is “of the Lord by the prophet,” or in words which the Holy Ghost taught. God did not leave us floating about in uncertainty. Only when it is presented, it is discerned spiritually, or, if rejected, is hid to them that are lost. With this as to the history, we find it drawn up by the prophets, and sanctioned by the Lord and the apostles.
It may be said that there are errors, and that we have only translations. I recognise that it was committed to the responsibility of man, just as in a certain sense man’s personal salvation is; yet he is kept by the power of God, and it is so too, liable to the effects of human infirmity. It is quoted, recognised, and authenticated by the Lord and the apostles, and the law constantly referred to in the earliest writings of the prophets. As to translations, no one gives any as a criterion of truth; they are a means of communicating it, and the criterion remains as it was, providentially preserved of God; the New (as Mr. S., I thank God, admits) adequately proved to be authentic, and if so, the Old authenticated, as no other book in the world is, by it, that is, by the Lord and His apostles. It is alleged the LXX is quoted. This is confessedly a translation, and, as commonly known and used, is commonly quoted; but it is not when the writers of the New as taught of God had any reason for doing otherwise. They authenticate it only as to that for which they quote it.
But I turn to a pleasanter part of my attempt. I would speak of the unity of mind in the whole Old and New Testament. Whatever controversy may be raised as to dates, there is no question of their being writings separated by wide distances of time. Infidels do not question that. In some shape Jewish literature began with Moses. Jehovistic and Elohistic documents may be compiled, but there were such documents to compile. There were prophets many centuries before Christ; there were psalms composed by David, the sweet psalmist of Israel, as by others contemporary or more recent, as some assuredly were. There are different authors, different styles, different epochs; the grammar even became changed in its details in the process of ages, as the use of Hu for the feminine and of Nahar marks early Hebrew. Various authors and styles, in a word, follow each other through a series of some 1500 years. In the New Testament there is a development of truth and divine counsels, part of which is declared to have never been previously revealed, and in the nature of things could not have been so: I mean the mystery of which Paul, and Paul only, speaks—the union of Jew and Gentile without difference in one body for heavenly places, which it was impossible to reveal while Judaism subsisted, as setting it aside absolutely in its nature. For Judaism kept up, while Christianity broke down, the middle wall of partition.
Now, if with all these authors, and epochs (in the last case setting aside the previously existing system, though fully sanctioning it as divine), places, and times—if through judgment, promise, law, gospel, and the revelation of the church completing the word of God, I find one plan, one mind, through the whole, whose is it? Unconscious of the bearings of it on the whole, each occupied with the present moral bearing of that which was confided to him, ignorant in large measure of what others might have to say, or even setting aside what had existed and occupied others, I yet find all minister to one single plan. I find the clearest and strongest proof that one mind, one inspiring power, which knew the end from the beginning, and had this plan before it, is the real author of what we call the Bible. I insist upon its being a number of books (Jehovistic and Elohistic documents, if you please, employed, though I do not accept what is said) of different ages and characters. Prophecy, history, poetry, moral lessons, man before law, man under law, a narrow system to maintain the true unity of the Godhead when all was idolatrous, and a large system to every creature under heaven, which maintained the authority of the law but set it totally aside as a way of relationship with God; but through all one single thread of divine purpose running, which makes every part subservient in its place to the whole, making over sixty books (or, taking Jewish computation of Old Testament, forty-nine) one single book—the Bible.
I can only in such a paper as this take some special elements as shewing this, after stating from Scripture what the divine purpose is, only noticing (what is of the last moment) that it is not a mere purpose as to facts to be accomplished, but that these involve the whole moral basis of man’s relationship with God: innocence, loss of it, moral responsibility, the law given as a perfect measure of it with divine authority, man doubly guilty by breaking it, remedial means in the testimony of the prophets and in the coming of the Son of God Himself, all in vain, issuing in the judgment of the world, and every mouth stopped, and all the world guilty before God, and a perfect salvation by grace on God’s part, according to His own nature and glory, laid hold of in promise throughout all ages, and then fully revealed; and finally heavenly glory, and a restored earth under Messiah and the new covenant, and then eternity; and, I may add, the church’s special place in all this, which is peculiar, all made manifest and unfolded in the development of this purpose, and issuing in the fulness of the divine glory, and the infinite and eternal blessing of those who believe.
The purpose is this, as stated in Scripture (Eph. 1), that for the administration of the fulness of times He should gather together in one (anakephalaiosasthai) all things in heaven and in earth in Christ (the Son of God and Son of man), in whom we have obtained our inheritance. In this there are two great scenes—heaven and earth, and as to them two great objects of revelation under Christ—the church and glorified saints in heavenly places, and the Jews in earthly: the one reigning with Christ; the others reigned over, as is all the world, by Him as Son of man raised and glorified, with the Father’s house, where He is gone, as our home: one being the expression of the sovereign grace which has put us into the same glory as the Son of God; the other, the government of this world. See Ephesians 1:22, 23, and 9-11, and Deuteronomy 32:8, 9, for a brief statement of the Jewish part, verses 8 and 43. All are under the Son of man, or united to Him. This latter part, as peculiar to the church, I leave aside for the moment.
God began, not of course with the Last, but with the first Adam—not with the Man of His purpose, but with responsible man. This responsibility, as traced and followed out in innocence, fallen and without law; then (passing by promise, which was of grace and brought out in Abraham) under law; then in sending Christ after patient warnings and encouragements by the prophets, saying, They will reverence my Son; but they cast Him out of the vineyard and slew Him. Then, the probation of man having been thus fully gone through, man is treated as lost: only a full salvation provided for him in the work of the Lord Jesus Christ, in whom, the Last Adam, the Son of man, all the promises and purposes of God are to be fulfilled. He is the man of God’s purpose, all promises in Him Yea and in Him Amen; taking the inheritance of all things man was to have in the purpose of God, according to the redemption in which God was perfectly and in every respect glorified. Through all we have the great adversary revealed in all that was needed, that we should know clearly the position of those concerned, but no further.
The result of all this and its general principle is already brought out in the garden of Eden; not a promise to the first man—there is none, but the purpose of God when the first man had failed in responsibility. This responsibility he was put under, tempted by the adversary, and failed. The Lord God judged the woman for listening, but makes known the second Man, the Last Adam. He, the Seed of the woman, was to bruise the serpent’s head, the serpent to bruise His heel—the latter in the cross, the former when He comes in power. This is no promise to the first man, though his faith might lay hold of it, but a revelation of the Second. Adam assuredly was not the Seed of the woman. The history is referred to as unquestionable truth by Paul (1 Tim. 2:9-15), as a ground for minute details as to woman; as a basis of the profoundest doctrine (Rom. 5:12-21), shewing sin to have been there by this means before the law, and when there was none; but referring to Hosea 6:7,21 shewing that Adam was under a law (not to eat of the tree of knowledge), but that from him to Moses man had none, confirmed as to the character of judgment (Rom. 2:12), those that have sinned anomos, without law, being distinguished from those who have sinned under it. So for watchfulness it is referred to in 2 Corinthians 11:3. So the whole order and structure of God’s plan in Christ, connected with ruin in the first Adam, is unfolded in 1 Corinthians 15, specially verses 20-28, and verses 45-49, and that in resurrection. The accomplishment in Jews, Gentiles, and the raised saints, is founded on Isaiah 25:6-8.
But there were other and special promises made to the seed of Abraham according to the flesh, renewed in David and confined to Israel, though mercy was to be extended to the Gentiles on their failure. Of this Genesis is full, and the state of Israel under promise and failure is the whole subject of the Psalms, besides Christ personally brought in as connected with them. (See Genesis 15 and 17.) These promises, given unconditionally to Abraham, were taken up conditionally at Sinai; so that, though the promises remained, yet under Moses the law was introduced, and on the ground of the old covenant their accomplishment depended as much on Israel’s fidelity as on God’s. God said, If ye obey my voice; and Israel said, All that Jehovah hath spoken we will do.
Thus not only historically Israel stood on the ground of the old covenant, but an immense principle was established and question raised, Is man’s righteousness the ground -of his standing before God, or is God’s righteousness that on which a sinner can be accepted? But Israel also thus stood on a double ground—promises made to Abraham, and righteousness under the law; and yet grace, unless God were the God of the Jews only, must reach out to the Gentiles, and this must be in Christ, and as taking His power as Head over all things, as we have seen, as Son of man. During the subsistence of the middle wall of partition, the blessing of the Gentiles was not shut out in hope, but left, as they were, in obscurity and darkness. When the world was idolatrous, the maintenance of the knowledge of one true God made this necessary, and so perverse is man, was with the utmost difficulty maintained. In the promises to Abraham it is as clearly as possible revealed in Genesis 12, and after Isaac’s being offered up as a figure, and so received as raised from the dead, confirmed to the Seed. All nations were to be blessed in Him.
When Moses and the law had come in, then it was only on the judgment of Israel that this blessing came out, and that through Christ. (See Romans 11.) So Deuteronomy 32:28, the judgment being solemnly insisted on in what precedes, both of Jews and Gentiles, though sparing a remnant in Israel, owned in verse 43 as His people, but the nations to rejoice with them. We have seen these two recognised in Isaiah 25, with the resurrection added, and all united with Christ’s reign in 1 Corinthians 15, quoting Isaiah.
The contrast of law and gospel is fully discussed by Paul, and the promises without condition, and the law with both promises and gospel, in Romans and Galatians. In Galatians 3 he insists on the promise without condition, and that the law 430 years afterwards could not be added to an unconditional promise confirmed to the Seed, nor that promise disannulled. The law was broken, and that, as it depended under the old covenant on Israel’s obedience whether the blessing was to be fulfilled, was easily disposed of. But the promises? They were to be made good through the promised Seed, the Messiah, a fact made clearer and clearer as Israel’s disobedience grew more and more manifest, and indeed fully established in the promise to David; but then it must be through bruising the serpent’s head and wider than Israel. When failure in the land under priesthood in Eli, and under prophecy in Samuel, and the direct government of God by these means had been fully manifested, God’s king, the beloved, was raised up; and this double blessing of Israel and the Gentiles and man’s glory as in Christ was brought to light, grace in power, though it was but a remnant in Israel who would finally profit by it.
But here the difficulty of the unconditional promises came in, and the promises of the Seed in which they were to be fulfilled. The law, as I have said, was clearly broken from the days of the golden calf. But the promises were to be fulfilled in the Seed, in the Son of David. Israel rejected Him, and lost all title whatever to any promises. God had taken away His throne when they went captive to Babylon. The cherubim and the glory that sat there judged the city and went up. But the promises? A residue was preserved and brought back, shorn of its glory as God’s people, but still having these promises; and Messiah came, the promised One, a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made to the fathers, and they rejected Him, and God wrought a salvation effectual for man. His salvation to the ends of the earth yet will accomplish His promises to Israel, only on the ground of pure grace, while He takes those that own the rejected One to be His companions in glory in heaven and to reign with Him. It is this that makes the apostle exclaim, O the depth of the riches!
Now as Galatians 3 and Romans 2, 3 and 4 (and 7 yet more experimentally) discuss the law and grace and promise in its moral bearing for any, so Romans 9-11 discusses it in reference to Jew and Gentile in a dispensational way. In chapter 9 God must be sovereign, or Ishmaelites and Edomites must be let in, and all Israel, save Moses, shut out, and God would use His sovereignty to let in the Gentiles. Then Israel’s rejection and stumbling at the Stumbling-stone was all foretold, and God’s being found of the Gentiles; chap. 10. But it was not final rejection. Paul was a Jew, so there was a remnant; Deut. 32. The letting in of the Gentiles was to provoke them to jealousy. But lastly, according to infallible promise, the Deliverer would come to Zion; Rom. n.
Thus in the law we have, not only a dispensation of God with Israel, but the great question of human righteousness raised for every soul. It was not an arbitrary rule, but God’s perfect rule for man, taking up all the relationships in which He had placed man as now fallen, with Himself and each other, and requiring man’s acting up to them, and he should live; but the flesh, man in his Adam-nature, was not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be so: then they that are in the flesh cannot please God (no one in Adam’s standing). Man’s righteousness not only does not exist in fact, but is set aside in principle; but, as we have seen, without law, man was lawless, under it a transgressor, and, when God was manifested, then the Lord could say, Now they have both seen and hated both Me and my Father. Hence we read, Now is the judgment of this world, but, thank God, Now is the prince of this world cast out. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. But now once in the end of the world (the consummation of ages) He hath appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. The heel of the Seed of the woman was bruised, but the work done gave Him a title in righteousness, according to God, to bruise his head. The power of the enemy was, by death, disannulled morally (ina katargese), and will be wholly set aside in heaven and earth when the Son of man shall come in His glory; not all enemies, it is true, subjected at once, but He having taken to Him His great power to reign and do so.
But not only were the Gentiles left in darkness during the narrow period of testing man under law, and the promises confined in their actual application to a peculiar people, but life and incorruptibility were brought to light only under the gospel, and access to God allowed, The state under the law was marked by the veil, and the barriers which forbade it; now the holiest entered, God’s righteousness being by faith for Gentile as well as Jew, and all the higher glories revealed in connection with resurrection, and a new state of man and a new creation, of which Christ risen and glorified is the first-fruits and head, “the second Man from heaven” (o deuteros anthropos ex ouranou), and now gone back there as Man.
The reader who is acquainted with Scripture will have seen that I have only made an abstract of its statements in all I have said, and put them together so that we may see that it is one complete plan of God, of which the moral principles and the historical development, though distinct subjects, cannot be separated. But let us see if we cannot, in some leading details, trace it through the scripture, shewing them more in detail, enchained by the plan of one mind. Indeed it begins before the world, of course then in the thoughts of God, but revealed to us, through mercy, not till the gospel came, not till the first man had been fully tried and tested in his responsibility. Thus we read (Prov. 8), speaking of wisdom (and Christ is the wisdom of God and the power of God): “I was [before the creation, which is poetically described] daily his delight, rejoicing always before him, rejoicing in the habitable parts of his [Jehovah’s] earth; and my delights were with the sons of men” —here, in the nature and principle of His place, the Son of man.
Hence, when Christ was born, we find the angels celebrating his birth with, Glory to God in the highest, on earth peace [not goodwill towards, but] good pleasure in men. He did not, as it is written, take up angels, but He took up—here narrowing it to grace and promise—the seed of Abraham, consequently associating it at once with Old Testament history. So we read in 2 Timothy 1:9: “Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, but is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ.” So Titus 1: “In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began, but hath in due times manifested,” etc. So 1 Corinthians 2: “We speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, which God ordained before the world for our glory.” Now, till the rejection of Christ, these counsels of God in grace were not brought out to light as we see stated here; because the first man, and the possibility of his recovery were being tried, though God, who knew what man was, was quickening souls from the beginning. Still we shall find full traces of all that concerns both the history of Christ, His rejection and future glories, or, as Peter expresses it, the sufferings of Christ, and the glories that should follow.
Let us take Messiah and Son of man, and the connection of their titles with Israel and the future glory of Christ. In Psalm 1 we have the remnant carefully distinguished from the ungodly, as Isaiah says: “Except Jehovah of hosts had left us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, and like unto Gomorrah.” But it is well to note, before we proceed to the chain of texts, that the Lord expressly tells us that this peace on earth was not to be accomplished by His first coming. “Suppose ye,” He says, “that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay, but rather division: for, from henceforth, there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three” (Luke 12:51, 52), practically a quotation from Micah 7, where it is presented as the extreme of evil, evil drawn out in its worst forms in fact, by the perfect manifestation of good, of God Himself, shewn in the death of Christ, and in hatred of those faithful to Him; for all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.
But as to Christ, He was to suffer and make atonement, sit not yet on His own throne, but on the Father’s at the right hand of God—expecting till His enemies were made His footstool; where He is now, the work perfectly accomplished which perfectly glorifies God, gives us a perfect conscience, destroys in title the whole power of Satan, is the sure foundation of eternal blessedness, the new heavens and the new earth: but, through which we are called to take up our cross and suffer, who are to have the heavenly inheritance, and be like Him in glory, but must wait here with Him now, and while He waits, having the sympathy of our great High Priest, or with Him as to our spirits, if called away before He comes. If He is crucified, we must suffer, not reign, till He takes to Him His great power and reigns: till then Satan is still the god and prince of this world, not cast down from the heavens.
From the beginning man, under his influence, has spoiled what God set up good—spoiled it the first thing: so the first man himself, so Noah got drunk, so the golden calf was made, so Nadab and Abihu offered strange fire, and the holiest was closed to Aaron save one special day; so through Solomon’s sin the kingdom was divided; and, under Nebuchadnezzar, the Gentile power became a beast; so always, the apostasy set in before the apostle’s eyes were closed.
But Satan will be cast down from heaven (Rev. 12), where he is now the accuser of the brethren. Then we shall have, as Luke tells us, peace in heaven, and glory in the highest; and “Blessed be the king that cometh in the name of the Lord” here below (Luke 19:38): though, then, it was babes and sucklings that were found to utter His praise, to still the enemy and the avenger, or the stones would have cried out. It is when He comes again that evil will be put down.
But to come to the citations of passages of scripture: in Psalm 2 after giving the character of the remnant in Psalm 1, we have the determination of Jehovah to set His King on the holy hill of Zion, the anointed Man, the Son of God as born in this world, who is further to ask for dominion over the heathen, whom He will rule with a rod of iron, and break in pieces like a potter’s vessel. (Compare Rev. 2:26, 27.) But for the present He is rejected. The kings of the earth and the rulers take counsel together against the Lord and against His anointed (Christ or Messiah). Adonai, sitting in the heavens, shall laugh at them. In Acts 4:26, 27, the Holy Spirit expressly applies this to Christ’s rejection and death.
In Psalms 3-7 we have the consequent sorrows of the remnant, on which I do not enter. But in Psalm 8 Christ is celebrated in another character, when the Jews can celebrate Jehovah’s name excellent in all the earth, and as having set His glory above the heavens, and as their Lord or Adon: a state of things not yet accomplished in fact, while the second verse is used by the Lord in the passage first quoted from Luke, as the testimony enforced, so to speak, by God, when the Saviour was here and rejected, quoting also Psalm 118, of which we may speak as specially referring to this future time of Christ’s return in power. Now I quote this to shew that it is identified with man’s being set over the works of God’s hands. The Son of man, which the Lord constantly applies to Himself,22 coming specifically into view, a passage as applied to Him in its full import as inheriting all God’s purposes as to man; used as defining the whole position in the results of divine administration more than once by the apostle Paul, as (Eph. 1:22) “And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be head over all things to the church, which is his body” (compare Col. 1:15-18); and again, in 1 Corinthians 15:20-28, when all things are to be put under the feet of the risen (the second) Man, except Him who put all things under Him. Here the whole scheme is unfolded; and again in Hebrews 2 we are told that we see not as yet all things put under Him; but we see Jesus made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour. Nothing can be more precise to both the divine purpose and the measure of its accomplishment, than these passages.
The general fact is again brought before us, in quite another part of scripture, in contrast with the earthly power of evil in Daniel 7. The chapter is divided by the expression, “I saw in the night visions,” verses 1-6, 7-12, to give the last beast (the principal one) more particularly, then 13, 14; from 15 to the end, inquiry and explanation, bringing in both the saints killed by the beast (and who, as is confirmed in Revelation 20 go into heaven) and Israel. I quote verse 13: “I saw in the night visions, and behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him,” etc. This was when the thrones had been set for judgment. But afterwards we find it was the Ancient of days who came when judgment was given (v. 22) to the saints of the most high (the high places). So in Psalm 80, where Israel is crying out (not merely Jews) for their final deliverance, it is (v. 17): “Let thy hand be upon the man of thy right hand, upon the Son of man whom thou madest strong for thyself.” Thus the rejected Messiah, cut off, and who took nothing of the kingdom and glory, but cut off Himself, is the one who is the head over all things as Son of man according to the purpose of God.
This truth runs through the Gospels where no passage perhaps is quoted. Nathanael owns Jesus to be the Christ according to Psalm 2: “Thou art the Son of God, the king of Israel.” “Thou shalt see greater things than these,” says the Lord. “Henceforth thou shalt see the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of man.” He takes His place as Son of man in contrast with and beyond that of Psalm 2. In John’s Gospel the Jews are treated as rejected and reprobate from the first chapter (1:10, 11), a remnant born again and believing, alone owned, because Jesus is God, and Him man never received, but was enmity against.
The three other Gospels present Him as Messiah, Emmanuel, Jehovah, the Saviour (Matt.); the prophet-servant (Mark); and Son of man in grace after the first two chapters, a lovely picture of the remnant in Israel (Luke). Hence we have genealogy from Abraham and David in Matthew, up to Adam in Luke.23 When the Jews are utterly rejected at the end of Matthew 12, so that He no longer seeks fruit in His vineyard and fig-tree (vv. 46-50), He goes out to sow, but He that sows the good seed is the Son of man; the kingdom in mystery, that is, without a present king (chap. 13), the church (chap. 16), the kingdom in glory (chap. 17), are substituted for Israel under the old covenant, but in chapter 16:20 they are charged to tell no man that He was the Christ: The Son of man (chap. 17:12) must suffer of them; more immediately contrasted, in Luke 9, which ends the chronological history (see verse 21) when Peter, taught of God, owns Him to be the Christ, “He straitly charged them and commanded them to tell no man that thing, saying, The Son of man must suffer … but be raised the third day”; and then He shews them the glory of the coming kingdom; the Son of man would come in His own glory, in the Father’s, and of the holy angels, as Son of man, Son of the Father, and as Jehovah. But (Matt. 17:9) this belonged to another scene, and man as a new creation. They were not to tell it till He was risen again from among the dead, and (Luke 9:36) they kept it close, withal wondering what rising from among the dead should mean,24 (Mark 9:10), and from that day began to press upon them that the Son of man must suffer; Matt. 16:21; Mark 9:31; Luke 9:44. In John we have this under another form, namely that of a full testimony from God, when Israel had rejected Him, as Son of God, Son of David, and Son of man. The first is raising Lazarus; chap. 11:4. “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, and that the Son of God should be glorified thereby.”25 He is the Resurrection and the Life. Then (chap. 12:13), they meet Him, according to Psalm 118, crying, “Hosanna! [save now, I beseech thee] blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord.” Then the Greeks (Ellenes) coming up, the wider scene of Gentiles, the Lord says: “The hour is come that the Son of man should be glorified. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone; but, if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit”; and (v. 32), “I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.” So in His rejection, abjured by the High Priest, He owns He is the One spoken of in Psalm 2, the Christ, the Son of God, but adds: “Nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power and coming in the clouds of heaven.” Thus that which dispensationally set aside the Jews under the old covenant, and ended their title under the promises, brought out the far deeper truths of the enmity of man’s heart against God in goodness— “They have both seen and hated both me and my Father” —but the accomplishment of that glorious work in which salvation was provided for Gentile as well as Jew, and God perfectly glorified in all that He is; the Christ rejected, Messiah cut off, as Daniel declared; and that as Son of man, not now taking the glory, but as suffering, yet vindicated of God as such; the whole truth of Psalms 2 and 8, Adam the image of Him that was to come (Dan. 9, 7) brought into light and accomplishment, and this not in quoted passages, but in realising facts, and then, when the Holy Ghost was given, the passages applied and explained, as in Acts 4 and Ephesians 1, 1 Corinthians 15, Hebrews 2, with no appearance of putting together or arrangement by those who uttered these things, but shewing one mind and thought and plan behind it all, the word and counsel of God. I might multiply passages as to the use of Son of man, but I have only quoted what brought the bearing of Psalms 2 and 8 together. But the death of Christ closed the earthly history of Scripture, till the Son of man shall come in His glory. Hence Stephen, summing up that history from Abraham, when the promises began, shews the law broken, the prophets killed, the Just One betrayed and murdered, and the Holy Ghost resisted; and then sees the Son of man standing at the right hand of God. He had taken His heavenly place, though not yet set down. Now He sits at God’s26 right hand till His enemies are made His footstool, having by one offering perfected for ever (eis to dienekes) them that are sanctified. It was the time of the church, His body, and the habitation of God through the Spirit. Hence the Son of man is no longer spoken of, save as giving Him His place on high; Heb. 2:6. But as soon as I come to the Revelation, what Christ had declared before the high priest, partly as seen by Stephen and taught in Hebrews 2, the accomplishment of Psalm no is, as to the latter part, brought out prophetically in Psalm 14, coming as Judge for the ripe harvest of earth and the vintage of God’s wrath (vv. 14-20). We find Him judging the church as responsible on earth in chapter 1. But from Acts 7 to Revelation He is never spoken of as Son of man, save that Psalm 8 itself is quoted (Heb. 2), to shew where we are in this history. Even then He is not called so.
I may briefly refer to some other points where this unity of mind is developed—the three great feasts of Israel, ordinances which pointed to the great principles and power of the gatherings of God’s people. There were other feasts: the Sabbath, a sign of the covenant made with them, but also that His people are in due time to enter into God’s rest (here that of the first creation, for us of the new creation, as risen); the new moon—a sign, I doubt not, of the restoration of Israel; as the tenth day of the seventh month was of their future mourning, and entering into the delivering power of the atonement; but on these I do not enter here. At the three other feasts, Passover (with unleavened bread), Pentecost, and Tabernacles, all Israel was to go up to the place where God had put His name. Full of interest as they are in themselves, I must now confine myself to them, as forming a chain of unity in the history.
Passover has an unquestionably historical character. It was “a night much to be remembered,” when, protected by the blood from judgment, they ate their unleavened bread in haste, preparing to depart out of Egypt. There is no evidence that I am aware of that they kept it after Sinai (Num. 9) till they were in Canaan. Those born in the wilderness were not fitted to do so, being uncircumcised until across Jordan; when, under Joshua they were, they did so (a very instructive figure, but a little beyond my purpose now). I only add, it is only when dead and risen with Christ we are circumcised, knowing what it is, and “the reproach of Egypt rolled away.” Patience and proving in the wilderness do not belong to this. Hezekiah kept it, and Josiah kept it, as it had not been kept for long years. This criminal neglect of Israel is constantly used as an evidence by the Germans that the law was not given.
It was clearly established, in commemoration of God’s sparing the people when judging Egypt and Pharaoh at the time of their deliverance from the bondage they were in. So it was ordained to be kept, and, as far as kept, was so. In Deuteronomy 16 it will be found to have a peculiar character; for there the three great feasts are spoken of in connection with the state of soul under the effect of that which they figure. In the Passover, the unleavened bread, type of holiness and the absence of sin, is the bread of affliction; and they were to turn to Him in the morning and go to their tents, though the feast lasted seven days. There is no thought of common joy, as in Pentecost and Tabernacles, though in these in different measure. When in presence of judgment, though spared, holiness is bread of affliction, the spirit of repentance is the form of purity, and it is necessarily solemn and individual. But the great idea of security from God’s judgment was there in the blood of the paschal lamb: afterwards, of course, only a memorial of it. Every Christian knows that Christ was the true Passover. The chief priests sought to hinder His being taken on the feast-day; but God’s purpose did not await their decision, and on the day of the Passover He was sacrificed as the true paschal Lamb, “the Lamb of God,” to take away sin-Eating at table with His disciples,27 the Lord Himself so instructs us: “With desire have I desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer; for I say unto you, I will not eat any more thereof till it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God” (Luke 22:15, 16): so that we have a clear instance of the intention of God in an institution formally established by Himself, by the hand of Moses, celebrating their escape from judgment in Egypt, yet definitely purposed to be indicative of a better and more lasting deliverance from the bondage of sin and Satan, and more directly from the judgment of God, by which we were bound down under its consequences. “Christ, our passover, is sacrificed for us.” When God sees that blood, He passes over, where faith has believed the word.
Pentecost we know to have been connected with the coming of the Holy Spirit. It was the feast of firstfruits (not the first of the firstfruits, the wave-sheaf the morrow after the sabbath, that is, Christ risen on the first day of the week, but) when the harvest was reaped. Here leaven was to be in the two cakes offered (for sin is always found in man), even if offered to God in the power of the Holy Ghost. At the same time a sin-offering was to be offered to meet this defect, not offered in the previous case of the wave-sheaf; but they could not be burned themselves as a sweet savour to Jehovah. Then, as it was connected with the Holy Ghost, they were directed, in Deuteronomy 16, to rejoice together in grace, and bring a free-will offering, according as Jehovah had helped them. All this abides in its true force—its purport accomplished at Pentecost, and its effect abiding to this day. Was it arranged of man for the future in its institution? or was its accomplished antitype, the Holy Ghost come down from heaven, arranged by man on that day? We have it in Leviticus, we have it with other details in Deuteronomy: one, Leviticus 23, a history of the whole time from Egypt till the Lord comes again at the feast of tabernacles; the other, Deuteronomy 16, the characteristic detail of which gives the moral import of the observance. If not arranged by man, it is a testimony to that purpose of God which makes the whole book one in the revelation of His mind.
We have yet the feast of Tabernacles, but without any antitype at all, which makes it the more remarkable. This was for the land solely. They were to dwell in booths, a testimony that Israel had been wanderers; but that now the promises were fulfilled, and that they were at peace in their land, never, as Amos says, to be plucked up any more; and, as Ezekiel has it, gathered back all of them. It was to be kept after the harvest and the vintage; in result, when ingathering and judgment were accomplished. We have seen in Revelation 14 the Son of man reaping the harvest of the earth, and treading the wine-press of the wrath of God. In this character He comes, chapter 19. In this character He is prophesied of (Isaiah 63), when He comes in dyed garments from Bozrah, when the day of vengeance is in His heart and He treads the peoples in His anger. Compare Isaiah 34; chap. 26:9, and Zephaniah 3:8; and in each case the promises to Israel following.
How could the Lord keep this feast? He could not. He will appear and shew Himself plainly enough to the world when He executes judgment on the quick, and so we find it in John 7, “If thou do these things,” said His unbelieving brethren, “shew thyself to the world.” Then Jesus said unto them, “My time is not yet come, but your time is always ready. Go ye up unto this feast. I go not up28 unto this feast, for my time is not yet full come.”
But, then, there was another thing in this feast, an eighth day, a specially solemn day; it reached beyond the seven full days of this world’s week to the first day of another which began afresh. On that day, “that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink. He that believeth on me (as the scripture said), Out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. But this spake he of the Spirit which they that believe on him should receive, for the Spirit was not yet [given] because Jesus was not yet glorified,” John 7. He could not associate Himself with Israel at this feast, but He could tell them on that special day, which went beyond the order of this world, that the Holy Ghost would be given consequent on His taking a heavenly and glorious place as Man, with which that Holy Spirit associates us. With the rest of Israel on earth comes in, what is yet a hope for us too, association with Christ in heavenly glory, as shewn in its manifestation in the kingdom on the mount of Transfiguration, of which the Holy Ghost is given to us as earnest while Christ is entered as a forerunner, expecting till His enemies shall be made His footstool. Then He shall have all things gathered together in one in heaven and on earth; and then shall be fulfilled in Israel, and far better for us, the declaration of Deuteronomy 16:14, “And thou shalt rejoice… because Jehovah thy God shall bless thee in all thine increase, and in all the work of thine hands; therefore thou shalt surely rejoice.” It was a feast hardly kept, and no wonder, in all their history; in Solomon’s dedication, lost in the general joy, so to speak, and observed in Nehemiah’s time (chap. 8:14), when they had learnt, though sore smitten, to sing again David’s song, “His mercy endureth for ever.” Is all this without a purpose or an order, in Leviticus, Deuteronomy, and in the Lord’s remarkable conduct and words in John? while all the testimonies of the Lord’s judgments, and of the rest of heart, far too numerous to quote here, confirm the truth of it, and lead, as it will, to the full singing of that lovely word so repeated in the end of the Psalms, Volant chesedo, “His mercy endureth for ever”: while we have better things in glory with Him where He is gone; yet all things to be gathered into one under Him “for the administration of the fulness of time,” Eph. 1:10.
The sacrifices and other types of the Old Testament connect the whole Bible from Abel to Christ evidently. Moses made the tabernacle after the pattern shewn him in the Mount. There was therefore a purpose and intention in it. Christ has passed through29 the heavens, as Aaron entered into the most holy place. The history is taken up, not only in the Hebrews where the whole is gone into, but in 2 Corinthians 3. And as to Hebrews, it is not a partisan confirming Jewish ceremonial; but, while treating it as of God, putting it wholly aside, and contrasting it with Christianity, the heavenly thing. The whole system is judged; “a shadow, indeed, of good things to come,” and yet fully recognised. And, observe, not the temple which they had before their eyes, and which men would have thought of (this is never alluded to in Hebrews), but the tabernacle in the wilderness: for there the Christian is, though with a heavenly calling. It had a full moral and spiritual signification for us; yet was all contrast, a veil that closed the way to the sanctuary, not a rent one which opened the way in; a priest sitting down because all His sacrificial work was finished, not standing because it never was accomplished.
The whole history, I may say, of the wilderness is recorded in 1 Corinthians 10, and applied to Christianity. We have the ark in Joshua, under EH, and David; and the history of Aaron’s rod and the manna confirmed in Solomon’s temple, and that by an allusion, as to a well-known thing, the strongest confirmation possible; though having a moral force that the means of journeying were gone when the rest was come; 2 Chron. 5:10. The temple order, substituted by David and Solomon for the tabernacle, is found, though slighted, and the temple defiled, all through the Kings. Now, though fifteen centuries separated the establishment of the two systems, the first has far more sense and import now to them that understand, than they had then. They were “shadows of good things to come,” but “the body is of Christ,” Col. 2:17. This applies to every part of the ordering of the tabernacle, where though priests could go and others could not, yet in contrast, as I have said; for the veil is rent, and the holy and holy of holies, have, so to speak, become one. What the altar meant, what the laver, details alluded to, I doubt not, in John 13, has its full force now. The mind which gave Moses the pattern in the Mount thought of Christianity in giving it; and Christianity, while setting the shadows aside. more than fulfilled their import.
With the history, if less obvious, it was equally the case. “All these things happened unto them for ensamples (tupoi), and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come,” 1 Cor. 10:11. Hence we find them knit, as they are found in the Pentateuch, with the constant instructions of the New, and the aptness seen by every intelligent Christian; indeed the whole history acquires its value, from its present application to everyday life, with the utmost and most instructive exactness. Historically the accounts of the Pentateuch are referred to and used for the judgment and instruction of Israel, as all the dates at which the Psalms may have been written, as Psalms 18, 78, 81, 99, 105, 106, 114. So the history of Judges in Psalm 83. The minuteness of the allusion in Psalm 80 shews more than any quotation how their minds were imbued with the history, God using it by His Spirit. God is appealed to as Shepherd of Israel, and leading Joseph like a flock, to shine forth from between the cherubim; and, it is added,” Before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh.” Why these tribes? They were the three next the ark at the rear of the tabernacle. The allusions are numberless. The spirit of the people from David to Babylon was filled— saturated—with the history in the Pentateuch, the Judges, and Samuel. The public neglect of Jehovah was great, and the judgments many; but their recollections and their desires lived in the history (see Judges 6:13) we learn in the Old Testament, and what their prophets told them of the future. It was what made them know God.
If we turn to the sacrifices we find the same neglect of God, as in everything; but the full intention and unity of intention is evident, indeed plainly stated. We find it, from Abel onward, the only legitimate ground of access to God. “Without shedding of blood is no remission.” “It is the blood that maketh atonement for the soul.” Sacrifices were offered to God, but for men; worship was connected with an altar, a deep and important principle notified to us in Cain and Abel, and in the patriarchs; nor in the tabernacle service could any strange fire be used to burn the incense, the neglect of which cost Nadab and Abihu their lives, and closed the entry of the holiest to Aaron save on the great day of atonement. Sin and death had come in; and death and the acknowledgment of sin must come in for man to approach God; and when all was ordered of God, a clean and spotless victim must be offered. Such offerings occur, and mark the career of the godly (the Abrahams, whose earthly life was a tent, his divine life an altar),30 and repeated too often to call for any individual notice. When all was ordained in connection with the tabernacle, and detail entered into, there was the burnt-offering which was on the ground of sin being there and atonement made (though not for particular transgressions), but was all burnt to God, an absolute sweet savour; the meat-offering, in which was no leaven (figure of sin), but all kneaded with oil and anointed with oil, and that in each minutest part; much frankincense, but all burnt to God, fully tested by holy judgment and only sweet savour. Then others feasted on what was slain as did the offerer, priest, the priests, and God too, while the same abiding law held good as to the blood and fat; and lastly, when there had been actual sins, there were offerings for them confessed on the victim’s head; and if the blood was carried into the sanctuary, the body burnt without the camp. If the efficacy of the atoning blood went into heaven, the victim was rejected outside the camp, an earthly religion (connection of a people with God upon earth) ceased and was impossible. And especially on the great day of atonement the blood was carried into the holiest of all—God’s own presence, according to what He was, not merely man’s responsibility met by what was done on the altar of burnt-offering without. Besides this there was a sacrifice connected with their journey through the wilderness, for any uncleanness contracted there, unfitting any, otherwise entitled, to go up to the worship of God. This last was carried out, not by the shedding or sprinkling blood again, but by sprinkling with living water, into which the ashes of the burnt heifer had been put The blood had been sprinkled seven times where God met the people.
All this had a purpose and a meaning. The prophets and Psalms refer to it as, with more or less order, it was historically continued. The resting on the mere outward offering with an unbroken heart is judged; but, as in Isaiah 53, there was One stricken for the transgression of God’s people who made His soul and offering for sin, offered to God because sin was there; but a whole burnt-offering of a perfect sweet savour, God glorified in Him; as the meat-offering, pure as man conceived of the Holy Ghost, anointed with the Holy Ghost, and all He did by the Spirit, all sweet odour of grace going up to and referring to God above, though priests may scent its sweetness, fully tested by the fire of God’s judgment; no leaven was there, all was a sweet savour to God. We feed on this sacrifice as the peace-offering, though the life and its energies were all offered to God—feed on it indeed, as bread come down from heaven, and as a sacrifice in death, only that death is become sure life to us, and what was absolute ruin before is now redemption and life, and we drink the blood too; not only atonement made for our sins and guilt taken away in our believing, but God perfectly glorified in His nature and intrinsic righteousness, measured by what He is and not merely by what we owe, and all our sins gone where they never can be found again. Such was the special offering of the great day of atonement.
There is for the believer no more conscience of sins; he is perfected for ever as to his conscience, while provision is made for restoring communion if we have defiled ourselves, the Holy Ghost by the word restoring the self-judging soul in virtue of that which shews sins for ever put away. He appeared once in the end of the world to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself (complete in result in the new heavens and the new earth); and as it is appointed unto men once to die, and after that the judgment, so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many. God is perfectly glorified in His nature through redemption, and the believer’s sins gone for ever, so that he has boldness to enter into the holiest.
I cannot, of course, here enlarge on so wide a subject as the sacrifices, profoundly interesting as it may be. What I have here to note is, that the word of God affords us, from Abel’s time, a distinct line of thought, brought out in detail in the law of Moses, and prophetically applied to God’s coming Servant in Isaiah, spoken of in the Psalms in words used by the Lord Himself on the cross, and then in the Gospels plainly declared “the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world,” “the Son of man come to give His life a ransom for many”; and reasoned on, as everyone knows, in the Epistles, shewing Christ who died for our sins, according to the Scriptures, the Just for the unjust, a Lamb without blemish and without spot. The lamb of Abel’s faith is the Lamb in the midst of the throne, whose bride the heavenly Jerusalem is, Himself the light and glory of it— “a lamb as it had been slain.”
The same divine thought runs through Scripture from the beginning of Genesis to the end of Revelation; the divine thought, prefigured in Abel, in the Exodus, and the sacrifices of the tabernacle, sung in holy strains in the Psalms, prophesied of by the prophets of God, even to the price He was to be sold for, accomplished in the Word made flesh, and unfolded in the instructions of the Holy Ghost—God’s precious Lamb, whose blood cleanses us from all sin. Was it a compiler of fragmentary documents in Ezra’s time, or God, who has taught us all this, one immense moral truth from Abel to the consummation of all things, the foundation of the stability of the new heavens and the new earth which makes grace righteousness—the righteousness of God, and sets man at His right hand in glory, opening heaven to us now, and in time taking us there? It was God’s thought, God’s work of love, and God’s revelation, never lost sight of, as it never will be when even the kingdom shall be given up that God may be all and all.
These may suffice as illustrations of how divine thought runs as a continued stream of purpose through the Bible as a whole. I insist upon its being many books, by many authors, collected no man knows by whom (not the “learned Germans “more than I or Mr. Smith), but proved to be divinely inspired, individually and collectively, by the divine oneness which pervades their contents, and the more from their being many authors in remote ages. But I will now take two special parts of the great collection; for collection, whoever made it, everyone admits it is, the Lord Himself setting His seal of acceptance on it as such—I mean the Gospels and Psalms—to shew the divine mind in each.
The traditions of Mark’s Gospel, composed at Rome from Peter’s testimony as its source, and Luke more or less from Paul’s, I attach no importance to. It is quite alike to me whether a secondhand tradition (not very early either) be true or false, if an apostolic source be true or not. The question is whether God is the source. If so, the human instrument is of no moment. Mark was intimate probably with Peter, and certainly Luke with Paul; but the latter could not have himself given testimony from personal knowledge to him, and Luke attributes it to another source. This is true, that the tone and import of Luke’s Gospel fall in more with Paul’s ministry of grace to all; but all the preaching in the Acts (and we have only sermons to Jews from Peter and Paul) is based on the commission in Luke, for they are distinct in each Gospel.
It is very doubtful if the Epistles of Jude and James are from apostles. This is not the real question. That the apostles had a special mission, whether the twelve or Paul, for these also are distinct, is sure to every Christian; but if God inspired others, their word was just as sure; and if an apostle spoke or wrote or acted not by the inspiration of the Spirit, this was not the word of God. Those who believe in inspiration have, just as these historical critics, rested on traditional circumstances or proofs, or human evidence, strong indeed, I admit, for authenticity and the letter, but which leaves untouched the real question, Are they inspired of God?
The proof of Scripture in this respect is in Scripture, in the power of the word wielded by the Holy Ghost. When in that power it reaches the heart and conscience, its character, its divine character, is known, not only in the particular point in which it reaches them, but as to the true power and character of that which has done so. The woman of Samaria does not say when thus reached, “What you say is true,” but, “Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet.” What He said came from God. His character and word were known to her. So it is with the Bible when a man is taught of God. It is recognised as His word, as Christ was recognised by those whose eyes were opened to see what was divine. Human testimony may prove the folly of human doubt, but no more, and so be useful; but divine operation alone gives divine faith. “He hath opened mine eyes.” When men believed only through proofs to man, by miracles, Jesus did not commit Himself to them; He knew what was in man. It was man’s judgment about Him, very justly formed, but only man’s judgment, no revelation of the Son of God to the soul: this is by the word through the operation of God; and then a man is born of God and sees. But I must pursue my inquiry.
As to the Gospels then, they carry their own testimony with them. Men may make Harmonies or seek to prove discrepancies, or give us Eusebius’s account of traditions, or, if we are to believe Eusebius, the foolish old man Papias’ account of his pleasure in hearing legends of what Christ said—a good pious old man, I doubt not. One has only to read the Apocryphal Gospels to see what they are worth, the utter nonsense that is in them.31 But each Gospel bears its distinct character, proving itself and completing the others. For while each can give us enough to shew what the blessed Lord’s life was, yet the account would not be complete according to divine thought without all. First, there is a characteristic difference between John’s and the Synoptical Gospels. They present Christ to be received as Son of David, Son of man, though of course the Christ and the Prophet-Servant; and in all He is rejected. In John, being God and the Son manifested in the world, the real ground of His rejection, we read in the first chapter that the world knew Him not, and His own received Him not; and they, the Jews, are treated as reprobate all through, and He is always come into the world, sovereign and quickening grace alone leading to His reception. And what He is in Person, and the Holy Ghost’s coming, are fully treated of.
But let us see briefly these characteristics, so as to shew, in some measure, the divine completeness of the whole; and it is not pretended there was a clever compiler of the four here. I can only touch on a few leading heads.
In Matthew He comes as Messiah, Emmanuel, Jehovah, to His people, yet if Messiah, of course as Son of David. Hence His genealogy is traced to Abraham and David, the great vessels of the Jewish promise of the Seed. He was Emmanuel, Jesus, that is, Jah Hoshea, Jehovah the Saviour, for He shall save His people from their sins. Born at Bethlehem according to prophecy, the anti-king seeks His destruction, and He flees to Egypt, called back out from thence to be the true Son of God here below. Then John the Baptist executes his mission. Both here and with the Magi, while the Jews are the immediate object, yet a remnant only is owned in Israel morally, judgment is at hand, and grace can make of stones children to Abraham, and in the Magi the Gentiles are owned but in connection with one born king of the Jews.
Then Christ takes His place among this remnant, and immediately heaven is opened, He is anointed with the Holy Ghost, and the Father owns Him as His Son. The whole Trinity is for the first time fully revealed, and man’s place (for us in redemption), according to God’s counsels, made good in Him when He takes His place amongst them, Son of God there. Owned such He goes up, led of the Spirit, to meet Satan; for us refuses, if Son, to leave obedience in His taken place of servant, and overcomes Satan for us in perfectly waiting on God’s will to act—overcomes his wiles, and sends away the adversary, and then goes to Galilee to the poor of the flock, calls disciples, and all the history of His service in Matthew is given in chapter 4:23.
Then He describes the character of those who would have part in the kingdom without speaking of redemption. Israel were on the way with God to judgment (compare Luke 12:49-59), and, if they did not agree, would be cast into prison, and not come out till they had paid the last farthing. And there they are to this day.
In chapter 8 He is Jehovah, and the Gentiles are again noticed. In chapter 9 we have the character of His ministry, which is forgiveness and power in grace (according to Psalm 103), and characterised by grace. In chapter 10 mission is exclusively to Israel in His own time then, to the end of verse 15; after He was gone, from verse 16, and that to the end till the Son of man should be come. In chapter 11 John the Baptist’s ministry and His own are both rejected by Israel, and He takes the character of Son of God, unknown because of His Person, and alone able to reveal the Father to the comfort of the heavy-laden, and as the obedient man shewing the yoke they must bear to get rest. In chapter 12 the Jews are formally judged, and He disclaims any relationship on earth except that produced by the word. In chapter 13 He seeks fruit no more in His vineyard, but as Son of man carries out the seed which was to produce fruit; but the field is the world and the kingdom of heaven is described, that is, God’s kingdom when the King is in heaven, taking the place of His presence on earth. He will come in judgment as Son of man, and the righteous shine forth as the sun in the Father’s kingdom.
In chapter 14 He still continues His ministry in grace, but Israel and man are judged in chapter 15, and grace to the farthest from God according to Jewish dispensation vouchsafed to those who had no promise in His Person. In chapter 16 we have the church Christ builds (founded on the title “Son of the living God,” proved in resurrection) to replace Israel, as in chapter 13 the kingdom in mystery, in chapter 17 the kingdom in glory. The disciples are forbidden to say any more He is the Christ, for the Son of man must surfer. In chapter 18, to the end of chapter 20:28, we find the principles which were to guide the disciples and characterise their walk when He was gone—lowliness, His presence among them, forgiveness, judging the inward man of the heart instead of observing the outward law, and other great principles of conduct and service.
In all the Synoptics, the history of the last events, another chapter of the Lord’s history, His death and not His life, begins with the blind man of Jericho. And He begins by again taking the character of Son of David, and presenting himself to Jerusalem as such. Then the Jews and their various sects come up one after another and are judged. The testimony of God in Judah till the Lord comes (chap. 24:1-31), with exhortations to verse 44; the judgment of Christendom in chapter 24:45 to chapter 25:30, and verse 31 to the end the judgment of the Gentiles, to whom the message of the kingdom had been sent in those last days; in chapters 26 and 27, the last scenes, in which He is specially the victim here, led to the slaughter and dumb before His shearers, and every human comfort looked for in vain, the Christ the Son of God, but henceforth Son of man in glory, the veil rent. Then His resurrection and joining the poor of the flock again in Galilee, but no ascension: the twelve being sent out to disciple and baptise the Gentiles, a commission from Jesus risen, of the accomplishment of which we find no history in Scripture. The mission to them is surrendered to Paul, as recorded in Galatians 2.
The perpetual quotation of and reference to the Old Testament scriptures is evident to the most careless reader, with ina when it is the object of the passage cited, opos when it is an accomplishment of it, tote when it is only an instance of the thing. I have only noticed of course here what shews a perfect and systematic course of teaching, all based on the essential character of the Gospel. The events are not given in historical order in the life of the Lord, though generally following it, but are subjects treated of. The whole history of His life and ministry is in one verse, and then what characterised it—the mind of God in it. The rationalist may search very imperfect legends how it originated and was put together,32 conjecture or reason on a Hebrew original or the contrary, and the Nazarene Gospel. The Christian taught of God sees with perfect certainty the character of the Lord as Messiah, Emmanuel, Jehovah, a Man amongst men, but Son of God, presented to Israel with all the principles He brought as such, and rejected by Israel to make way for deeper counsels and a better salvation: stating indeed a heavenly place for those rejected for His sake, but carrying on testimony, not from heaven, but from resurrection.
The gospel of Mark I need not dwell on. It is the ministry of Christ, and is more exactly in chronological order, the same as Luke when he is chronological, but not calling for special notice for the purpose for which I comment on the Gospels. The reader may notice that the Lord’s life closes here too with Galilee, as far as the Lord’s words go, chapter 16:9-20 giving a short summary of what is recorded in Luke and John.
I turn to Luke, but only for some brief remarks, with a view to my special object. It begins with a lovely picture of the godly remnant in Judah, and the prophetic Spirit amongst them, hidden in the midst of the abounding iniquity of Israel; but where, as in the cave of Adullam, a godly priest, the true king, and the Spirit of prophecy are found. But the Jews are under the power of the Roman “beast,” and events are dated by his reign. Then comes a genealogy,33 which traces Christ up to Adam. He is Son of man come in grace, not the heir of promises to Abraham and David. At once, in chapter 4, He shews God’s goodness extended to the Gentiles, so that they were going to kill Him. Then we have His power over demons and diseases, cleansing the leper and forgiving sins on earth; He is come to the sick. His disciples could not fast then— the bridegroom was there;—nor could new wine be put into old bottles, the truths of grace and the gift of the Spirit into Jewish ordinances. He is found (as constantly in Luke) praying as Son of man, and slighting their thoughts .of the Sabbath; He was Lord of it as Son of man; it was the sign of the covenant with Israel; Ezek. 20. He gives then the summary of blessings and woes (the disciples are “ye poor”), but not the principles on which they would enter into the kingdom. There is more faith in a Gentile than in Israel, and then He raises the dead. The poor multitude and publicans justified God; the Pharisees rejected His counsel and are rejected. But wisdom is justified of all her children; and the child of wisdom is shewn in the poor woman, a sinner in the city; not in the Pharisee who, with God in the house, decided, as rationalists do, that He, most clearly, could not be a prophet. But forgiveness, salvation, and peace are the portion of the poor woman, to whose heart and conscience God had revealed Himself in Christ as light and love.
Then, in chapter 8, the sowing the word is spoken of; but we have not the mysteries of the kingdom. This Gospel is not dispensational; but the Lord rejects association, according to the flesh, with Israel. We have then an account of the expulsion of the legion of demons in Gadara, and, as often in Luke, more details as to the man. He would go away out of his home in this world with Christ, but was sent back for a testimony. The world gets rid of Jesus; and, I have no doubt, the rushing of the herd of swine is a picture of Israel’s conduct when He was gone; but this is a mere figure I leave to every one to judge of. He goes to heal Jairus’ daughter, but has to raise the dead. Only whoever touches Him with faith, in the way as He then was, is healed.
After feeding the multitude He is transfigured; and in the Gospel of Luke only we have the talking of His decease, and the going into the cloud, the heavenly part of the kingdom—a very important element. Their selfishness is detected in every form from the grossest to the most refined; and Christ is to be everything. This closes the orderly historical part of Luke. Christ’s time was come for Him to be received up, and He stedfastly sets his face to go to Jerusalem. In the beginning of chapter 9 He had given His last testimony to Israel, only there was no inquiry who was worthy; and then comes the kingdom in glory, and entering into where the Father was, the excellent glory, and the strict prohibition any more to say that He was file Christ. We have no going through the cities of Israel till the Son of man be come—no prohibitory notice of Samaritans and Gentiles; we have the history morally, not dispensation-ally, given: here, too, He was praying when He was transfigured; no replacing the Messiah in Israel by the church founded on the title Son of God, but the heavenly and earthly glory when the Christ was rejected, and the cross, in bearing which they were to follow Him. On this He insists, while the multitude wondered at His present power. He sends His messengers before His face on His way to Jerusalem, the parting testimony to Israel; but the disciples were to rejoice, not because devils were subject to them, but because their names were written in heaven. Grace is taught, independent of Judaism, in the man that fell among thieves. Then we have hearing His word, and prayer. He was the test of every soul. The evil generation, as pictured in the return of the unclean spirit, is left out. Still the nation is judged morally.
The folly of the world in its desires is taught, and the fear of man to be conquered, and for disciples full trust in God exercised; while the heavenly portion of those who watch, and the rule in the return of Christ of those that serve, are beautifully brought out. The effect of His present coming in dividing nearest friends is told, and the application of being in the way with the adversary made clear. Judgment was on all the nation, the Sabbath is set aside in the work of grace, the kingdom very briefly announced in its external form, but in connection with entering in at the strait gate. He would often as Jehovah have gathered Jerusalem, but now her day was past. The sabbath again yields to doing good, and the call to the great supper and its results is spoken of: only the sick and the poor are added to what is in Matthew. We have then, what is in Luke only, grace in seeking and grace in receiving by the Father, God’s joy in the salvation of a sinner thenceforth; what man, a steward out of place, is to do with his master’s goods in view of everlasting habitations; and the veil withdrawn from another world, putting the outward blessings in this, promised to Israel, in their own true place. This morally substitutes Christianity for Judaism.
After some moral principles, He is substituted for the temple and Judaism in the case of the healed Samaritan: the kingdom of God was there. Prayer is urged, but when the Son of man came where would be faith? and self-judgment preferred to self-righteousness, and the heart searched instead of the commandments outwardly kept. There is none good but God. Salvation is only of Him.
He approaches Jericho; the story of Zacchæus is added, full grace to a publican, but responsibility in service when He should be gone, and reward according to labour. Then in approaching Jerusalem on the ass, the remarkable expression, Peace in heaven. Till Satan should be cast out thence, no rest on earth could come. Jerusalem is wept over in grace.
In the prophecy to His disciples (chap. 21) we have no abomination of desolation, but the siege of Jerusalem by Titus not mentioned in Matthew. The true secret of Peter’s fall is brought out, and the entire change in Christ’s position now, as being there, not as Emmanuel, King in Israel as He had been, but as a malefactor on the cross. In Gethsemane is more deep human sorrow than in any Gospel; on the cross none. He is the perfect man: not here the victim before God, true as this ever remains. He went through the sorrow with His Father j and there was calmness itself when the sorrow was actually there. We have the account of the converted thief, and the assurance of a blessed intermediate state before He came in His (Christ’s) kingdom: a most instructive and important history. I should have added that in instituting the Lord’s Supper He does not speak of eating it new in the kingdom, but of the present thing, its being fulfilled in the kingdom of God.
We have the lovely history of the disciples’ journey to Emmaus; and, passing rapidly over the circumstances of the resurrection, no going to Galilee, but going out to Bethany; the ascension related, and their blessing in connection with His going to heaven. It is He himself, the same Jesus who is risen; He eats to shew it; He opens their understandings to understand the Scriptures: repentance and remission of sins are to be preached in His name; but they were to wait for the power at Jerusalem for the promise of the Father—that is, the coming of the Holy Ghost. It is on this commission, as I have said, that the preaching of the gospel took place, as related in Scripture.
The whole Gospel gives us the moral change, and introduces the present and heavenly state of things, not dealing with dispensation, though of course with the setting aside of Judaism. It is the Son of man, and in divine grace. While Luke is especially characteristic, it is less easy to reproduce its character in a summary, because it is many minute traits which form that character: grace in the Son of man. Still the introductory chapters, the place and scope of the genealogy, the introduction of the parables in chapters 14, 15, 16, the introduction of going into the cloud in the transfiguration, the ascension, the thief on the cross, the woman that was a sinner, the frequent praying of Christ, the introduction of Gentiles, all marked grace that reached out beyond promises to Israel, and the Son of man in whom that grace came.
The Gospel of John, on the contrary, gives very broad lines of truth as to the Person of Christ and the coming of the Holy Ghost. Its character is totally distinct from the other three Gospels. It is not a history to display what Christ was here, His rejection and death, but a statement of all that He was in Himself. The Jews are all set aside, and indeed man, in starting; but all that Christ is, save His relative characters, is found already in the first chapter; in the third, what was revealed and needed for Israel and man to have part in the earthly and heavenly blessings. We have only to follow the contents of the Gospel to see its bearing. The sovereign operation of needed grace is found also from the beginning. What was found by results and experience in the first three Gospels is taught as truth here.
The first chapter begins before Genesis, because it treats of what was, not of what was done. As to Christ, He is God, in nature a distinguishable person with God, not become so by incarnation, but with God in the beginning. He was, when all began. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men: but the light shone in darkness, that is, amongst men, but the darkness comprehended not. God, in patient love, sent a witness to draw men’s attention to that light. Next, verse 14, He became flesh, egeneto, became, not now en, was. He became flesh, was this amongst men as man, was a Son with His own Father, dwelt among men full of grace and truth. Christians have all received of His fulness, and grace for grace. Grace and truth came by Him, they were there, egeneto. The law was given by Moses. Then His work: He is the Lamb of God, the taker-away of the sin (not sins) of the world, and the baptizer with the Holy Ghost; He was anointed and sealed with it Himself. Then, as John had witnessed to Him as Lamb of God, His disciples gathered round Him. He is the Son of God and King of Israel. But much more: henceforth the heavens would be seen opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of man. He is not the Christ for Israel in this chapter; nor Priest above; nor Head of the church. John does not own the Jews, nor has he indeed to do with the church: all is individual, not counsels, but God revealed in the Son declaring His Father; and eternal life come down to be imparted to man, the Word become flesh.
In chapter 2 we have the result when the history of the gathered remnant closes, the joy of the marriage, the purifying water turned into wine, and the temple purged of all that profaned it. This closes the introductory part as to all that concerns Christ.
We have now what concerns men. But the incarnation is the introduction of what was before the beginning of all things, in the power of life in a Man, into the scene of the all things, to be eternal life indeed as from everlasting in His Person; but a wholly new thing, though a true Man amongst men—a new beginning. But the mere human conviction by evidence was nothing, and not to be trusted. Man must be born again (anothen) wholly anew. Nicodemus ought to have known this as a teacher of Israel. The prophets (see Ezek. 36) shewed it plainly that, even for Israel to enjoy the earthly promises, there must be a new birth; how much more to have part in the heavenly! This He would teach as coming thence, as no one else had to tell it, the Son of man, who was even then divinely in heaven. But the Son of man must be lifted up, that a people separated by faith should have a part in these heavenly things. The need was there on man’s side, and the Son of man met it. The love of God was there on God’s side, and the Son of God was given; but it is the world, not Israel. The condemnation now was that light was come into the world; and man hated it, and did not come to it. In the rest of the chapter John the Baptist unfolds who he is, the testimony being closed by the evangelist himself with the Father’s love to the Son, and His having put all things into His hand: he that believed on Him had everlasting life. Man, God in grace, Israel, the wcrld, and the Son of God come in grace revealing the Father, bringing eternal life, grace and truth—all find their place here; what Christ is, and the truth as to man, the being born again, and the atonement on the cross.
This closes the introduction, the epoch being marked by John being not yet cast into prison; after which Christ began His public ministry. In chapter 4 the Lord leaves Judæa, His country as come amongst the Jews; and we find grace with a Samaritan, prerogative mercy above Jewish relationship, and connected with His Person and humiliation, but no understanding of it in man; and this produced by dealing with the conscience. Worship must be in spirit and in truth, for God is a Spirit; but the Father, His name in grace, revealed in the Son, seeketh such. In chapter 5 we have the benefits under the law, dependent on the power of the person who is to use them, and there is none: the disease to be cured has taken away the force to use the remedy; Christ as Son of God brings it with Him. The Father raises the dead, and quickens them, so the Son quickens whom He will: and he who believes has eternal life: then man’s responsibility as to it, life being come in His Person, with the evidences of John Baptist, His own works, the Father, their own scriptures: but they would not come to Him to have it. In chapter 6 He is Son of man, owned prophet, refusing to be king; He ascends up for priestly service, and the disciples go away alone; He rejoins them, and they are immediately where they went. Our food, meanwhile, is Christ humbled, the bread from heaven, and His flesh and blood; but if this last, His death, be not fed on, there is not life; in such case their portion is resurrection in the last day, in a state man never was in, even innocent. In chapter 7 the Holy Ghost takes the place of tabernacles, as we have seen, of which there is yet no antitype; in chapter 8 His word is rejected; in chapter 9 His work; in chapter 10 He will have His sheep at any rate out of Israel and the Gentiles too; in chapters 11, 12 we have the testimony rendered of God, as we have seen, to Christ when rejected as Son of God, Son of David, Son of man; but then He must die.
This closes His history, and He is now looked at as going to His Father—this from chapter 13. He must leave His disciples; but if He cannot stay with them, He must have them with Him gone now to God. For this He abides a servant, and washes their feet: for being washed (converted), that is done once for all. Their walk remains to be seen to. Further, God is perfectly glorified by Him in His death: so man goes into God’s glory. In chapter 14 He went to prepare a place for them above, and will come back and receive them. They knew where He was going, for He was going to the Father; and they had seen the Father in Him, and so knew the way too. Further, when the Comforter was come, they would know not only that He was in the Father, but that they were in Him and He in them. In chapter 15 Israel was not the true vine, though a vine brought out of Egypt. He was so: and they the branches, and this on earth. Then the work of the Comforter is fully developed in chapter 16: sent by the Father in chapter 14 in His name: by Him, from the Father, as the glorified Man in chapters 15,16. In chapter 17 speaking to His Father— wondrous grace that we should be admitted to hear Him—He puts the disciples (founding it on His work and glorifying, and revelations of the Father in Himself) on the same ground as Himself with the Father and with the world.
Then we have Gethsemane and the cross in chapter 20, His revelation of Himself to Mary Magdalene and to the disciples, and this whole period of Christian blessing characterised. The Jewish remnant, who loved Him, could not now have Him back in bodily presence, but they were now His brethren; He went to His Father and their Father, to His God and their God. He is in their midst, communicates life in resurrection in the power of the Holy Ghost, as God breathed into Adam, committing the administration of forgiveness of sins on earth to them. Thomas represents the remnant in the latter day. In chapter 21 we are in Galilee again with this remnant; and the service of Peter, who is blessedly restored through grace, and of John: one as the apostle of the circumcision to find his labour in Israel come to nothing as regards the nation, and he a martyr, as Christ; and John to linger over the condition of the church till He came. It is purposely given mysteriously, and in part refers to the last days. The net is the millennial haul, and does not break, as the gospel net did. (Of Paul’s ministry we have nothing; it stands by itself, a dispensation committed to him.) We have no ascension in John’s Gospel. It will be remarked, that, all through, it is the divine side and the purpose of God as to Christ, which is treated here; with the Holy Ghost who takes His place on earth.
I would still notice the distinction of the closing scene in the Gospels. In Matthew Christ is the victim, perfect in calmness and patience, with no ray to comfort Him, no heart to feel for Him; He is led as a lamb to the slaughter (man’s wickedness frightfully brought out), but a perfect victim of propitiation, told out on the cross by the solemn words, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” In the midst of plans of the priests and the vacillation of Pilate, God’s purpose is carried out in the true passover; and Christ is, before both, condemned for His own testimony to the truth.
In Luke you have deeper human conflict in Gethsemane, though perfection in it: being in an agony, He prayed more earnestly. On the cross there is none. He had gone through it as man with His Father, and the perfect result is peacefulness on the cross. Also, here, as man, He commends His spirit to His Father.
In John we have the divine side—no sorrow in Gethsemane, none on the cross. In Gethsemane they go backward and fall to the ground, and He delivers up Himself, saying, “If ye seek me, let these go their way.” On the cross He puts His mother under John’s care, and delivered up His own spirit when all was finished in the work He had to do. We have to learn in part, and the various parts separately, that we may know all. John was nearer Christ in His agony, but Matthew gives it, not John. Matthew saw the people go back and fall, but says nothing of it. The Holy Ghost gives by each what suits the whole tenor and subject of that Gospel. Yet our Baurs and other Germans can see nothing but a composition to make peace among Christian squabblers in the end of the second century. Can there be greater poverty, more total moral darkness? Mr. Smith, professing for some other reason to believe, debits out this threadbare infidelity, without a ray of light to lighten the darkness, or say it is not true; or he would persuade us that Christ sanctioned, as written by Moses, and as the word of God relative to Himself, what was not written by Moses at all—an imposture in which he, forsooth, can see no harm! and he would have us believe that the Lord and the apostles were all wrong, and Dr. Baur and himself right.
I have referred to the Psalms as another illustration of unity of purpose and mind as collected. It is well known there are five distinct books, each ending with ascription of praise to Jehovah—Psalms 1-41; 42-72; 73-89; 90-106; and thence to the end. Each book has its own object and character. The first two Psalms, however, are an introduction, and give the key to the whole book. In Psalm 1 there is a remnant distinguished from the ungodly of the nation. Psalm 2 gives the counsels of Jehovah to establish, in spite of rejection by Jews and Gentiles, Christ (the Anointed) as King on His holy hill of Zion; also God’s Son, as born into the world; and, finally, to subdue the Gentiles with a rod of iron.
I would now mention a principle of order which helps us to understand the connection of many Psalms. One or more psalms give the platform on which the thoughts and feelings of the following Psalms are based.34 But, first, as to the character of the five books. In the first the remnant is still in Jerusalem, and the name Jehovah is used throughout, though in two Elohim be introduced. And here we have more prophetic reference to Christ, though rejected.
In the second book the remnant is out of Jerusalem; but their state is pursued through rejection till the authority of the Son of David be established. This begins with Elohim; but after Psalm 45, when the King is brought in in power, we find Jehovah, and triumph. Blood-guiltiness is owned, the sufferings and sorrows of the people under oppression and hostile power are recounted: and Elohim is largely, sometimes exclusively, used in contrast with man powerful in wickedness. Still judgment is looked for in faith, and true repentance in Israel. But the remnant all through are cast out, though their praise is ready (Psa. 65) when restored. In Psalm 69 Christ associates Himself with Israel, bearing their sins, and carrying their sorrows in His heart, though rejected of them; and here Jehovah comes in again. It closes, as already said, in the Son of David being established in glory and power.
The third book goes beyond the Jews, and takes in all Israel. They are to be received after the glory, and though faith does bring in Jehovah at Psalms 73:28; 78:21; 80:4; 81:10, still Elohim is the constant cry: they are not yet restored by the glory. Still we have this prophetically, and all the exercises of heart and faith and hope about it furnished to them by inspiration. Here too the old associations of Israel as a whole are far more fully before us. In chapter 83 Jehovah comes fully in again, on the judgment against the last confederacy being executed, and is used even in the depth of their humiliation (Psa. 88), their guilt under the old covenant. In the next Psalm mercies are recounted and Christ brought in (verse 19 called “holy one” wrongly. It is still Chesed, so the same as in the first verse generally; in verse 18 Kodesh), that is Jehovah. This closes the book.
The fourth book is the bringing in the First-begotten into the world. Jehovah has been ever Israel’s dwelling-place. Of Psalm 91 I have spoken, where Jehovah is identified with the Most High in the accomplishment of the promises to Abraham. This is celebrated by faith in the next psalm. Then, with Psalm 93 as a preface, the introduction of Jehovah Messiah into the world, from the appeal of the suffering remnant who inquire if Jehovah is going to reign conjointly with the power of evil (v. 20), on to the calling up the Gentiles to worship at Jerusalem, where the presence and glory of Jehovah are fully established, in Psalm 100. In Psalm 101 we have the principles of the earthly kingdom; and Psalm 102, how Christ, who was cut off, could be there. He was Jehovah, eternal in nature (Atta Hu), and His years, too, as man should never fail. (See Heb. 1.) Psalm 103 celebrates Christ as Jehovah (compare Matt. 9) in Israel; in Psalm 104 it is the God of creation who is celebrated; in Psalm 105 the God of Israel of old, but whose judgments are now in all the earth. In Psalm 106 Jehovah’s faithfulness is looked to in spite of all their misdeeds.
The fifth book, from Psalm 107 to the end, is more general, but we have them gathered out of all lands; the great revelation that Messiah Melchisedec was to sit on Jehovah’s right hand till His enemies were made His footstool: then His power would come out of Zion. It is fully celebrated that “Jehovah’s mercy endureth for ever.” The circumstances of deliverance are rehearsed in the Mahaloth, the law written (Psa. 119) in the heart of Israel who had gone astray like a sheep that was lost: and finally the great Hallelujah of now accomplished deliverance. Psalms 72 and 145 alone, as far as I remember, describe the millennial state itself: the first as to Christ; the second as to His association with the people. Psalm 118 is the full description of the return of Israel’s heart to Jehovah, recognising His ways and their own fault, and is constantly quoted by the Lord in the Gospels, and brought out by the power of God in the last entry in Jerusalem; and it is quoted also in the Acts.
I return to note a few details based on the principle referred to at the outset. Psalms 1, 2, are the preface and key as I have said; then Psalms 3-7 the thoughts and feelings Christ’s rejection has given rise to in the remnant, ending in His character as Son of man; Psa. 8. Of this I have spoken before. Psalms 9, 1035 are the sorrows of the Jews and the delivering judgments of God; in Psalms 11-17 their thoughts and feelings, Christ’s resurrection, trust and righteousness being introduced, ending in Psalm 18, when Christ’s sufferings are made the key to Israel’s history, from Egypt to the establishment of the kingdom in power. Psalms 19-22 are deeply interesting, creation testimony, the testimony of the law, of a Christ suffering, from Man exalted to glory and punishing all His enemies, of a Christ suffering indeed from man but then crying to God and forsaken, yet perfect and making atonement; nothing but wider and wider blessing flowing from it to the remnant which becomes the church, literally accomplished in John 20, to all Israel, to the world, and those born in the millennium: “He hath done this.”
Psalm 23 forms another starting-point: Jehovah the Shepherd who cares for His tried one; Psalm 24 Christ the Jehovah who enters in triumph into the gates of righteousness on earth. The exercises on this go to Psalm 39. Then we have the accomplishment of the counsels of God, undertaken by a suffering obedient Christ, the key to all; and then the blessing on him (Psa. 41) who understands the poor, as He said, Blessed are the poor in spirit, “ye poor”; and we can say, This poor man cried, and Jehovah heard him.
I need not go any farther to illustrate general principles, which is all I can attempt to do now. The divine sequence and connection of the Psalms is, I think, evident; yet they are confessedly isolated songs, composed at different times, even if mostly David’s: a collection, but the mind of God shines through them as a collection; His purposes in Christ and in Israel, when Jehovah shall be owned as Most High in all the earth, a suffering remnant and a Messiah who has entered into their sorrows. Of course the Father’s name is not and cannot be found in them, nor the Spirit of adoption. It is deeply interesting to see that, while His human sorrows can be viewed in Psalm 20, His atoning sufferings can be expressed only by His own mouth; Psa. 22.
I would say a few words on Petrine and Pauline teaching, as it is greatly dwelt on by these “learned Germans.” It is folly, as they take it with their speculations, but most interesting, when rightly looked at. That the Jews had the strongest prejudices against the Gentiles is notorious, and that the Jewish Christians were not exempt from them is evident upon the face of the New Testament history. We possess in the Acts of the Apostles the case of Cornelius, and it is plainly in point both as regards Peter himself and those at Jerusalem. The affair between him and Paul (Gal. 2) tells the same tale, and reveals, as do other passages, the effort to force circumcision on the Gentiles. The council in Acts 15 under God decided otherwise at Jerusalem itself, which was the important point. But, clear as may have been the Christian decision, prejudices remain behind decisions acquiesced in. “Certain came from James” marks this clearly. Only in Hebrews 13:10-13 are they summoned to give up Judaism.
But there was much more than this. The writings of Paul contain a doctrine unknown to all other parts of scripture— the church as the body of Christ. It is not mentioned by any other New Testament writer. The word is not used. It was a dispensation committed to him, besides the gospel, to complete the word of God. He was the wise master-builder who laid the foundation. It had been hidden from ages and generations: in proof of this, see Romans 16:25 (read “prophetic scriptures,” not “scriptures of the prophets”); Ephesians 3:1-10; Colossians 1:24-26.
John had nothing to do with this question: his ministry did not reach out to it. It was the revelation of eternal life, and the Father in the Son, and His becoming our life; but his ministry is always individual. If the children were to be gathered together in one by Christ’s death, as well as the nation died for, it is individually as a family, not as the body of Christ. And in the mysterious end of his Gospel it passes from Peter, closes his life and ministry as Christ did, and passes on to Christ’s coming: in ministry fulfilled in the Apocalypse. In this last chapter of John, Paul does not come in at all. John speaks of Christ’s and our going to heaven but four times, as far as I remember. (Chaps. 6, 14, 16, and 17.) His ministry was the display of what was divine here below: hence its attractiveness.
Paul presents us in Christ before God: and this leads to union with Christ as His body. Peter’s ministry, after presenting grace, redemption, and birth by the incorruptible seed of the word, and speaking of Christ’s bearing our sins, very clearly dwells as his speciality on the government of God: in the first Epistle as to the saints; in the second as to the ungodly. I speak in all these cases of what characterises them. But none ever touches on what constitutes Paul’s special ministry. I may add, John still speaks of preachers who had gone out taking nothing of the Gentiles, of Christ dying, not for our sins only, but for the whole world. He puts our standing clearly in Christ (1 John 4:17); but it is still individual.
The Platonism of John is a fable; it is anti-Platonic in its revelations, and expressly so. The notion even of disputes after the destruction of Jerusalem seems to me unhistorical— save some Nazarenes and Ebionites in Palestine, soon sunk into insignificance. Judaism proper sank into oblivion. The Alexandrian corruption of Christianity issuing in Arianism was later and connected with Neoplatonism. Justin Martyr (a.d. 140) was infected with it, and others of that school in his time. But it was another thing. This is true that the full doctrine of redemption as taught by Paul never took root in the church: the church itself Judaised, and has remained in this state to this day. The return to Paul’s teaching, and partially John’s, is what is disturbing its slumbers at this day.
What was special in Paul’s doctrine was that by the descent of the Holy Ghost believers, perfectly saved, were united in one body to Christ, Jews or Gentiles: and the fulness of redemption in a new creation was manifested, by the glorifying of Christ, as man, on high. Paul’s conversion connected itself with this. He never knew Christ on earth—was a strict legal Jew. Christ was revealed to him in glory, and Christians spoken of by Christ as being Himself. He was delivered from the people and from the Gentiles, and sent to these last in connection with a glorified Christ, all disciples being one with Him: and the apostles at Jerusalem give up to him their mission to the Gentiles; Gal. 2. Of course this gave a special character to his mission, though the gospel, the basis of personal salvation, remained the same. It was a dispensation committed to him, a mystery kept secret since the world began.
This is the reality of the difference between the Petrine and Pauline teaching, which is sufficiently important. But this was too early lost (and the Pauline doctrine of redemption and the church merged in outward forms and organisation) to have been a ground for any great controversy. None held Paul’s doctrine. The Pope is the successor of Peter, not of Paul, though the last may be smuggled in to appropriate and hide him. John’s teaching had nothing to do with the question. Indeed the Baur theory is pretty much given up. I speak of it to free the intrinsic importance of the additional truth taught by Paul: for it is no difference of gospel, but a very much larger revelation of the counsels of God, from the idle, and (they must forgive me) low, husky, speculations of those who know nothing of the real contents—husks half gone already; for rationalist speculations cannot be expected to last above twenty years.
The accusations of plagiarism I do not make much account of. But I do not see original research in the article “Bible.” It is the current speculation of the day. But that must be borrowed somewhere. DeWette, Ewald, F. W. Newman (who borrowed it from the Germans), Hupfeld, all give it to us: and I now see it in Professor Kuenen, whom I have just read. It is a mere reproduction of what these teach, and unless there was real personal research, it could hardly be anything else. “Opinionum commenta delet dies, naturæ iudicia confirmat”; only for “naturae “we must substitute “aeternae veritatis.”
You may consult Eichhorn’s (a rationalist’s) judgment:— (1) None but ignorant and thoughtless doubters can suppose the Old Testament to have been forged by one deceiver: (2) They are not the forgery of many deceivers… But how could they forge in a way so entirely conformed to the progress of the human understanding? and was it possible in later times to create the language of Moses? He goes through other suppositions, and says, How could a whole nation be often deceived and a different periods, and by what degraded themselves? The whole passage, too long to quote here, may be read: Moses Stuart has translated it. The writers all quote, he says, or refer to what has been written before. Profane history refers to Moses as the lawgiver of Israel. It would be a serious difficulty, if anything be a difficulty to a theorist, to see how or why an elaborate system of tabernacle arrangement, professing to come by direct inspiration from God, should be recorded, when a totally different one was before their eyes. No one reading the Old Testament for himself but must see a clear and orderly succession of historical events, though much more—collected afterwards, no doubt, into a volume—and that the effort to invalidate it supposes more absurdity than any other theory. It is too closely bound together historically. All is false if the whole be not substantially true as it stands, for it all hangs together and supposes itself all throughout. But faith depends on other workings in the soul than these external proofs. Doubts may be easily awakened, but did these reasoners ever present us with one certain solid truth?
As the matter has come publicly before all the world, I must say that Mr. S.’s defence is worse than his previous acts. To disseminate pure infidelity (for this it is), destroying the inspiration of the Bible as we have it, without a hint of anything else, and then to say he believes it for other reasons, is too bad to be qualified by any term I could use. It results in making it no matter to falsify the real origin of the books; and in making Christ and the apostles put their sanction on such a course, or declare one to be the true author when he was not. And if it were true, where was the inspiration of the writer?
The question is not as to Professor Smith (of whom I know nothing but what is published); but, Are plain souls to have the word of God, what “proceeds out of the mouth of God,” quoted by the Lord and His apostles as such, and Christianity communicated in words which the Holy Ghost taught? or the fancies of Astruc and Baur and Smith, with no real communication from God Himself? What is my soul to lean on?
Happily, when the great conflict between man in the Last Adam and Satan took place, words which proceeded out of the mouth of God were sufficient for the Lord and for Satan, as they ever will be; and in the hour of His deep and atoning agony sufficed to express what was in His heart, that which no other heart could ever fathom or express. If there be a blessing in the world besides the Lord Himself in grace, it is to have God’s word as He Himself has given it to us, like that Lord Himself, what is divine and heavenly but perfectly suited and adapted to man, in the heart of man: the Old Testament as a pipe which brings it, partially drunk at by those who conveyed it; in the New the heart itself, first the vessel drinking for its own thirst, and then the water flowing forth from the inmost man. “When it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb and called me by his grace to reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen.” All of it is that word of God which works effectually in them that believe. “If that which was from the beginning abide in you, ye also shall abide in the Son and in the Father.”
Note. See page 79.
In order to shew the advantage of reading the foregoing along with the article on which it animadverts, we give a quotation from it on alleged “Parallel Narratives” and divergent laws, in the Pentateuch:—
“This view is supported by the fact that, even as it now stands the history sometimes gives more than one account of the same event, and that the Pentateuch often gives several laws on the same subject. Of the latter we have already had one example, but for our present argument the main point is not diversity of enactment, which may often be only apparent, but the existence within the Pentateuch of distinct groups of laws partly taking up the same topics. Thus the legislation of Exodus 20-23 is partly repeated in chapter 34, and on the passover and feast of unleavened bread we have at least six laws, which, if not really discordant, are at least so divergent in form and conception that they cannot be all from the same pen (Exod. 12:1-28; chap. 13:3-10; chap. 23:15; chap. 34:18; Lev. 23:5-14; Deut. 16.) Of historical duplicates the most celebrated are the twofold history of the creation and the flood, to which we must recur presently. The same kind of thing is found in the later books; for example, in the account of the way in which Saul became king, where it is scarcely possible to avoid the conclusion that 1 Samuel 11:11 should attach directly to chapter 10:16 (cf. chap. 10:7).
“The extent to which the historical books are made up of parallel narratives, which, though they cover the same period, do not necessarily record the same events, was first clearly seen after Astruc (1753 a.d.) observed that the respective uses of Jehovah (Lord) and Elohim (God) as the name of a deity afford a criterion by which two documents can be dissected out of the book of Genesis. That the way in which the two names are used can only be due to difference of authorship is now generally admitted, for the alternation corresponds with such important duplicates as the two accounts of creation, and is regularly accompanied through a great part of the book by unmistakable peculiarities of language and thought, so that it is still possible to reconstruct at least the Elohim document with a completeness which makes its original independence and homogeneity matter of direct observation. The character of this narrative is annalistic, and where other materials fail, blanks are supplied by genealogical lists. Great weight is laid on orderly development, and the name Jehovah is avoided in the history of the patriarchs in order to give proper contrast to the Mosaic period (cf. Gen. 17:1; Exod. 6:3) and, accordingly, we find that the unmistakable secondary marks of this author run through the whole Pentateuch and Joshua, though the exclusive use of Elohim ceases at Exodus 6. Of course the disappearance of this criterion makes it less easy to carry on an exact reconstruction of the later parts of the document; but on many points there can be no uncertainty, and it is clearly made out that the author has strong priestly tendencies, and devotes a very large proportion of his space to liturgical matters. The separation of this document may justly be called the point of departure of positive criticism of the sources of the Old Testament; and present controversy turns mainly on its relation to other parts of the Pentateuch. Of these the most important are: 1. The Jehovistic narrative, which also begins with the creation, and treats the early history more in the spirit of prophetic theology and idealism, containing, for example, the narrative of the fall, and the parts of the history of Abraham which are most important for Old Testament theology. That this narrative is not a mere supplement to the other, but an independent whole, appears most plainly in the story of the flood, where two distinct accounts have certainly been interwoven by a third hand. 2. Many of the finest stories in Genesis, especially great part of the history of Joseph, agree with the Elohim-document in the name of God, but are widely divergent in other respects. Since the researches of Hupfeld, a third author, belonging to northern Israel, and specially interested in the ancestors of the northern tribes, is generally postulated for these sections. His literary individuality is in truth sharply marked, though the limits of his contributions to the Pentateuch are obscure.”— Ed. B. W. and R.
14 A Review of Professor Smith’s Article ‘Bible,’ in the ‘Encyclopaedia Britannica,’ ninth edition.
15 That I may not be thought from scriptural prejudice to overstate the judgment formed on Baur’s theory, I may refer to a laudatory article on Baur in the columns of the “Encyclopaedia Britannica,” in which the article of Professor Smith which has given rise to these remarks is found. “Unhappily,” so the article closes, “his own opinions were influenced, not merely by his study of facts, but by a great speculative system which dominated his intelligence and prevented him from seeing,” etc.
16 This, as all the Lord’s replies to Satan, is quoted from Deuteronomy, as the word of God—words proceeding out of God’s mouth, sufficient for Him, and sufficient to leave Satan without reply.
17 The allegation, that “there are six laws as to the passover, which, if not really discordant, are at least so divergent in form and conception that they cannot be all from the same pen,” is another of these careless assertions without a shadow of foundation. In the first place, they are not all of the passover, but some of unleavened bread, which, though connected, was a different feast, and the difference morally important; and in two cases specially connected with the consecration of the firstborn. As to the rest, we have the historical account in Exodus, and reference to it when the three great feasts are particularly directed to be kept. How these are divergent, my reader must find out; I cannot. It will be found that in Exodus 13 there is no special additional direction as to the firstborn and unleavened bread, and no law as to the passover at all. So in chapter 34:18. Moreover, they are all Jehovistic; so that the Jehovistic and Elohistic documents, as of two definite authors, come to nothing. But the statement is ridiculous, a proof of the folly and levity of all that is alleged. See page 135.
18 Both the celestial and the terrestrial parts are revealed in Luke 9.
19 The whole doctrine of the “four great Epistles” of Paul, particularly of Galatians, and those foundational Epistles, is based on this difference of Abraham and Sinai respecting Christ the title to promise.
20 Thus, in Exodus 32:13, Moses appeals to God’s promise without condition, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; Solomon, for the temple, and the blessing of Israel in connection with it, does not go beyond Moses and the Exodus (1 Kings 8), on which judgment was pronounced when the Lord cursed the fig-tree; and in fact this was all lost, and finally under that covenant. So in Leviticus 26, where Jehovah goes through all His judgments as governing the people to the end, He goes back, not only to Moses, but to the original unconditional promises to Jacob and Israel and Abraham. They will have the blessings of the promises under Moses, but through God’s remembering His unconditional covenant, which comes first. Nehemiah refers only to Abraham as a covenant, though He speaks of their deliverance by means of Moses, for this was a deliverance by grace. We have only to read Ezra and Nehemiah to see the utter folly of Jehovistic and Elohistic accounts. I suppose Ezra and Nehemiah were not compiling their own history from Jehovistic and Elohistic fragments. The reader may also notice another title, “the God of heaven,” as now no longer sitting between the cherubim, a distinction which will help him in understanding the book of Revelation also. (See Rev. 11:4, 13.)
21 For “men” in text, read Adam, as in Hebrew and margin.
22 He never calls Himself the Christ save to the woman of Samaria (John 4) when He had left Judaea.
23 I should read Luke 3:23: (“Being, as was supposed, son of Joseph), of Heli,” etc. tou Eli is connected with Jesus, not with Joseph.
24 All as Pharisees believed in the resurrection of the dead.
25 The stupid rationalists cannot, of course, see why this miracle was brought in here.
26 Christ had interceded for them on the cross, to which Acts 3 is the answer; but this also, Christ glorified, is rejected; and so all man’s history closes in Stephen, and He sits down till Christ’s enemies are made His footstool.
27 For the Jews the same day, though not for us, and at the time when leaven was put away for the feast.
28 The “yet” is not genuine.
29 Not “into,” as in the English version (Heb. 4).
30 He had none in Egypt, nor till he returned to Bethel.
31 One tells us that Jesus was as a child the death of so many who meddled with Him, that His mother kept Him in the house at last. He was making mud birds one Sabbath and ponds, and a big boy came and broke His ponds. The birds took life and flew away, and the Child said, “As you have dried my ponds, you will be dried up” and so he dried up and died.
32 If any one be curious, he may read Marsh’s conjectures.
33 Chapter 3:23 should, I have no doubt, be read “(Being, as was supposed, the son of Joseph) [the son] of Heli”; that is, son of Heli refers to Jesus, not Joseph; there is no “which was” in Greek. The Talmudists make Mary the daughter of Heli to be tormented in the other world. The vision of Isaiah (a.d. 68), it is said, makes Mary to be of the lineage of David. So does Tertullian according to Kaye. But this only by the bye.
34 It will be found in individual Psalms, the first verse or two giving the thesis, the rest what leads to it.
35 I do not understand how Mr. S. makes there an imperfect acrostic. It is looking inexactly and superficially at the outside, and missing all the force of the Psalms. We have a, a, b, b to begin with in Psalm 9; l, b, k, r in Psalm 10.