Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

THE ONE FATHER, THE ONE FAMILY, AND THE ONE HOME.

BY REV. JAMES FREER, DUMFRIES.
*The Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven

and earth is named.'—Eph. iii. 14, 15.

[graphic]

Y creation and providence we world ? Such thoughts as these must pass

are all the children of God. through every reflective mind, so that any He has called us into being, and idea of the divine fatherhood that may be obit is by His ever-watchful care tained from nature and providence is weakthat we live. In Him we live ened and rendered practically inoperative by and move and have our be- the apparent absence of a father's superining. But it is not of this kind tending care and love ; and not until the of creature relation that the thought of the disorganising power of sin has

Apostle is speaking in the text; been felt and acknowledged is there any stable it is not a relation springing out of God's foundation laid for reaching the idea that, creative power, but one that has its source in notwithstanding all the disorder and misery His redeeming and adopting love. That love existing in the world, God is revealed in flows out to man through Jesus Christ ; and Christ as a reconciling Father. all who are brought savingly within the Men are by nature dead in trespasses and power of that love are constituted God's sins—alienated from the life of God by reason adopted sons and daughters. The whole of sin dwelling in them, and heirs of condemhousehold of faith, consisting of the redeemed nation and wrath. And the holiness, the in glory and the redeemed on earth, are in justice, yea, the very goodness of God, form Christ Jesus the one ransomed family of God a barrier to all communion between God and the Father, and of Him or from Him that the sinner. Before heaven's love can hold family is named

communion with man, man must be made Let us now consider the three points sug- a child of God by faith in Jesus Christ. This gested by the words of the text.

second truth draws the dividing line between

the children of Adam and the children of I. THE ONE FATHER.

God-the alien and the adopted-the heir of God's creative and sustaining power | wrath and the heir of glory. Those who are may give some faint idea of the divine received into the number of God's children fatherhood. But such an idea is at best were born not of blood, nor of the will of the a feeble and inoperative one, for there is flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. The much in the mystery of God's dealings only power adequate to the production of such with men that is fitted to suggest the absence a change is the power of God's redeeming of an Almighty Father's care and love. love in His Son Jesus Christ ; and it is of The lightning strikes indiscriminately the the fellowship which results from this great innocent babe and the hoary transgressor; spiritual change that the Apostle is speaking the earthquake swallows up villages, irre- when he tells us regarding the Father of our spective of the virtue or vice of their inhabit- Lord Jesus Christ, that of Him the whole ants; wars desolate the fairest portions of family in heaven and earth is named. the earth ; virtue is often oppressed, and vice To the natural man the thought of God is exalted. And as the contemplative mind one of alarm. The thought of God's presence, looks on these facts, the question arises, 'Can instead of being to such an one a source of it be that the Creator can possibly stand to blessedness, is a source of trouble ; for there His intelligent creatures in the relation of a is in every unrenewed heart a deep-rooted Father ? Does not the strangely mingled con- hatred of the infinitely holy and righteous dition of good and evil show that there is no character of God, and an equally deep-rooted Father presiding over the government of the desire to revolt from His authority. The

38—11.

sinner desires to have his own way and will ; tion of His perfections. The sight of these is to feel free from all restraint, and to exult in attended by alarming thoughts of our own the consciousness of this freedom. He wants ill-desert. The process which elevates our to originate and carry out plans of his own- thoughts of the divine perfections reduces our to seek, first and last, his own gratification, estimate of the worth of our own character ; leaving God and God's authority entirely out as the one end of the scale-beam rises the of view. And thus he says in his heart there other goes

down. is no God. But not only is the sinner troubled So long as the sinner refuses to submit at the thought of God, because of the felt re- himself to God, so long does he see all the straint which His authority lays upon him ; perfections of God witnessing against him. he is also troubled at the very thought of the God is not revealed to him as a Father, but divine perfections. The thought of these per- as an incensed avenging judge. Knowing no fections carries home to the conscience the Father's care and love, he can find no centre thought of the sinner's imperfections and of rest; and therefore the Scripture well deguilt. The thought of the divine perfections scribes the condition of those who are thus is like a light carried into the darkened without God as being like the troubled sea, chambers of the soul, scattering all the sinner's which cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire false hopes, and awakening a sense of spirit and dirt. ual wretchedness and guilt. Ah, this dread- It is seen that even the children of God ful sense of guilt! it penetrates to my inmost may often be disquieted when they think being; I cannot shake it off, for it is as near to of Him. But this does not arise from any me as I am to myself. Were it merely the desire on their part to escape from the sense sense of shame arising out of the exposure of of the divine presence, but from the desire of my folly, I might find some relief at the pro- being more fully conformed to the divine law. spect of one day shaking it off. But how is The believer does not wish to know less of this burning sense of my guiltiness in the sight God, but to know more ; he does not wish to of God to be extinguished ? The more I see renounce God's way, but mourns that he does my sins in the light of His countenance, the not more fully renounce his own way; and the more intense is the misery which I feel. The whole cause of his disquiet consists in the calm glance of the Holy One is to me as a discovery that there is still a law in his consuming fire.

members warring against the law that is in This is the way in which the discovery of his mind, and seeking to bring him into capguilt acts upon the mind. And it is no tivity to the law of sin and death. He wonder that those who see themselves in this mourns ; but his mourning is over his own light are troubled at the thought of God, alienation of heart. He is disquieted, not bebec se, in their case, they hear the voice of

cause the glorious perfections his Father in justice telling them that they are unjust, the heaven are revealed to him, but because he voice of goodness telling them they are evil, feels so little of the spirit that should charthe voice of love itself proclaiming that they acterise those who are sons of God. The are altogether as an unclean thing.

most elevating, invigorating, and comforting It is a pleasing thing for an affectionate of all thoughts is to him the thought of the child to look upon the virtues of its parents, divine fatherhood. It is this that fringes and it ought to be an equally delightful exer- every dark cloud with light; it is this that cise for man to contemplate the perfections of enables him in his patience to possess his the Father in heaven. What joy and peace soul ; it is this that gives him an earnest of ought to arise in the mind in thinking of the the heavenly inheritance and a foretaste of its government of a wise and loving Father!

glory. What rapturous feelings ought to be excited

(To be continued.) at the contemplation of all His glorious perfections! If it were not for the stain of guilt that rests upon the conscience, we should REST.— The greatest of all the promises as truly delight in the contemplation of these of Christ is the promise of rest. There are perfections as the angels in heaven. But be- many things that make us soul-weary in this cause our hearts condemn us, we instinctively world. Sorrow and sin are great burdens, arrive at the conclusion that the Searcher of world. And there is only one Being who can

and all must bear them who live long in the Hearts must condemn still more. Under the

give us rest from these. It is He who bore apprehension of His condemnation, therefore, our sorrows, and made atonement for our we turn away our view from the contempla- sins.

THE NEW BIBLICAL CRITICISM,

BY PROFESSOR HEMAN LINCOLN, D.D.
HE new critics deny the Mosaic | ity of the Lawgiver of Israel, to secure accept-

authorship of the Pentateuch, ance for his own work. Who can blame the
and the Mosaic origin of the Jesuits for later forgeries and falsehoods, when
Levitical priesthood and service. they can plead a divine model for their policy?
The Levitical system was un- 2. Jesus and His disciples endorse the

known, they say, till the Cap- forgery, and ascribe to Moses as a teacher sent tivity, and Deuteronomy till the reform by God the inventions of Ezekiel and of ununder Josiah. The German critics reject the known authors. It is difficult to maintain supernatural elements in Jewish history, and the omniscience of Jesus without impeaching deny, much of the record concerning the bond. His honesty. age in Egypt, and the exodus under Moses. 3. The unity of the Bible is lost. The One of these critics admits the inspiration of divine plan of salvation by a suffering Messiah, the Pentateuch, and the divine guidance of announced at the Fall, and unfolded by proIsrael through its entire history. But he phecies and types in the old covenant, disapholds that only small fragments of Exodus pears. The Epistle to the Hebrews is a deand Leviticus are the work of Moses. An un- ceptive argument, for it assumes fictions for known author wrote Deuteronomy about the facts; as the Mosaic law, the Levitical sacritime of Josiah, and Ezekielorganised the Leviti- fices, the tabernacle and the ark were late incal ritual in the Captivity, and the returning ventions, and did not belong to early Jewish exiles brought it with them from Babylon. history. In place of salvation by grace

Such is the new reading of the Pentateuch, through faith, the divine plan, for a thousand in the light of advanced scholarship, attained years from the Exodus to the Captivity, was by the newest biblical criticism.

salvation by works, in a strict obedience to The first thought that comes to us in ex- the Decalogue. amining its claims is that similar attempts to 4. God accepts a human invention as true make over the New Testament have signally worship, and ordains what He had once forfailed. Some of us are old enough to recall bidden. The theory holds that sacrifices were the great blast of trumpets that heralded the of Pagan origin, were copied by the Jews advanced scholarship of Strauss, and the con- from their Pagan neighbours or suggested fident assertions that the newest criticism by their own depraved instincts, and were proved the Gospels to be myths in place of distinctly forbidden by Isaiah and Jeremiah. historic records. All Europe was startled at What was odious under the earlier prophets the ingenious methods of the young scholar; became the divine law under Ezekiel and the but the theory died before its author, and the later prophets, and the only acceptable worGospels remained unharmed.

ship. By divine command evolution went A little later the newer criticism and the backward. Prayer and personal approach to prodigious learning of Baur discovered grave God were supplanted by sacrifice and a priesterrors in Christian history. Only a single hood, and spiritual worship gave way to a Gospel was authentic; only four Epistles of cumbrous ritual. Paul

were genuine. The Book of Acts was a It requires a very advanced scholarship to cunning attempt to disguise the bitter enmity accept such results, and retain faith in the between Peterand Paul; and the Gospelof John Bible as an infallible religious guide. was a forgery in the latter part of the second Nor are the critical difficulties less formidcentury to bring the discordant parties into able than the moral in the way of accepting union. The new criticism has grown old, and the new theory. its claims are already outlawed.

1. The style of the Pentateuch indicates an The memory of such recent failures suggests early origin, and bears no trace of the changes doubts of the ultimate success of the latest of language which followed the Captivity. It scholarship in remoulding the Pentateuch. I has no Aramaic words, so common in the later Is the learning of Kuenen and Wellhausen sacred books ; while it employs many words wider or more accurate than the learning of and phrases which are never found in them. Strauss and Baur and Hilgenfeld ? The ad- One can detect no more literary resemblance vanced scholarship of the next generation may between Leviticus and Ezekiel than between reinstate the Pentateuch, as the latest criticism Bacon's Essays and Milton's Paradise Lost.' has reinstated the Gospels and the Acts. 2. Almost every book in the Bible presup

A second thought isthat the new theory of the poses the existence of the Pentateuch and an Pentateuch creates a new system of theology intimate knowledge of it. Dr Stebbins, in his and ethics. Its moral difficulties are startling. admirable little work, ‘A study of the Penta

1. A prophet is inspired of God to commit teuch,' gives the results of a thorough inducforgery. Ezekiel, who is honoured as a great tive search for the evidence. Beginning with ethical teacher, in his eagerness to guard Israel the Gospels, where the Pentateuch was surely against idolatry, invents the Levitical ritual, known in its present form, he finds references and declares that God gave it to Moses in the to it and quotations from it in the apocryphal wilderness. He forges the name and author- | books, Exodus, Maccabees, and Ecclesiasticus ; in Malachi, Haggai, Zechariah, Nehemiah, and Kuenen thinks it an easy matter to pick Esther; in the Book of Kings, in the reigns of out the portions of the Elohistic documents Josiah, Hezekiah, Amaziah, Jehoash, Solomon, scattered through Exodus, Leviticus, and and David ; in the Chronicles ; in Daniel Numbers, and selects some passages in proof. Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Ezekiel, Jeremiah, The chief distinction in such passages is that Isaiah, Micah, Hosea, Amos, Joel;' in Proverbs the Hebrew word Elohim is used to denote and Psalms; in Samuel

, Judges, and Joshua. God, instead of the later word Jehovah. Dr He says, with emphasis, no ancient book has Stebbins examines the passages cited, and such ample, and connected, and explicit proof finds in one that Jehovah is used fifteen times, of its early origin. He gives some suggestive and Elohim not once; in another Jehovah comparisons. In the Book of Judges there forty times, Elohim not once;, in another are fewer allusions to the Pentateuch than in Jehovah fifty-seven times, and Elohim twice; most other Old Testament books. But even in a fourth, Jehovah fifty-two times, Elohim here ten or twelve references may be clearly once. He justly concludes, 'If the “chief discerned. Bradford's History of Plymouth, characteristic” of one of the theoretical docuwhich from its Puritan character might be ments is found to be almost universally used supposed to be full of allusions to the Bible, in the other in practice, either the theory or and from its size ought to contain eighty times the practice is sadly at fault.' as many as the little Book of Judges, refers One of these critics has said, “By many to the Bible only sixteen times. He specifies marks, and particularly by extremely well-devolumes of sermons where there are fewer fined peculiarities of language, a Levitical quotations from the Gospels than may be document can be separated out from the found from the Pentateuch in most of the Pentateuch.' The table of Nöldeke is prophetical books,

generally accepted as careful and correct in 3. Traces of an organised priesthood, of essentials.' The worth of a rule is tested by sacrifices and annual feasts, are found in the practical success in applying it. Do liberal historical and prophetical books before the scholars agree in recognising the extremely Captivity. Dr Stebbins shows clearly that well-defined peculiarities of language,' and in such institutions existed before Deuteronomy accepting Nöldeke's table of selections ? Dr was written, for some laws are there quoted Stebbins applies the test to thirty-eight pasand amended, and some ceremonies modified sages, selected by Nöldeke. In six of these or withdrawn. He finds similar proof in passages Stähelin, another critic of the adJudges and Samuel and Kings and Chronicles, vanced school, agrees with Nöldeke, in thirtyin Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel. The de- two he differs with him. In the same passage nunciations of the prophets against formal De Wette and Theodore Parker, also of the sacrifices, on which the new critics rely to same school, agree neither with Stähelin nor prove that the Levitical system could not Nöldeke, nor with each other. One may have been given by Moses, is a decisive proof be pardoned for a lack of confidence in the of the existence of a priesthood and ritual. advanced scholarship, whose critical rule, It is easy to understand how earnest spiritual resting on 'extremely well-defined peculiariteachers should rebuke a formal worship, into ties of language,' fails utterly in thirty-two which no true reverence or piety entered. It out of thirty-eight test passages. is impossible to explain these vigorous pro- The Christian world may still cling to its tests, unless a system of sacrifice was estab- old faith in the Mosaic authorship of the lished, claiming a divine authority.

Pentateuch, undisturbed by the clamour of 4. Nor is the critical difficulty less than the the new criticism. Older biblical scholars will moral, in accounting for the origin of the hesitate to accept a theory which creates Levitical system during the Captivity. It is insuperable moral difficulties, and is beset by morally impossible that God would have com- internal contradictions, more numerous and missioned Ezekiel to establish what He had obstinate than those it attempts to remove once condemned, or would have substituted The unity of the New Testament is unharmed a ritual service in place of spiritual and per- by the formidable attacks of Strauss and Baur sonal worship. It is equally impossible that and Renan; and one may believe without returning exiles, familiar with their national presumption that the assults of Kuenen and history and institutions, and some of them Wellhausen on the unity of the Old Testament recalling the glory of the old temple, could will have no better success. When the have been imposed on by a forgery, establish- novelty of the newer criticism has ceased to ing new institutions which claimed to be charm, and it assumptions and inconsistencies Mosaic. The great religious revival under have been exposed, Christian scholars may Ezra and Nehemiah, the tears and remorse of hold with a stronger faith to the unity of the aged exiles over the broken covenant, are in- divine plan, which connects the Adam of the explicable, unless the new-found law were old covenant with the Christ of the new; really the old Mosaic covenant, well known in which binds together in one historic whole its spirit and aim to them and their fathers. Eden, Calvary, and the New Jerusalem, and

5. The contrasts between the different docu- leads the redeemed of God along one unments used in the Pentateuch, on which great broken path from the typical cleansing of the stress is laid, are so slight that no two critics Levitical lamb to personal holiness before the can agree in classifying them.

great white throne.

Boston Watchman.

a

6

a

A

a

ON BURNING OLD SERMONS. TO ‘IRENÆUS, EDITOR OF NEW YORK OBSERVER, FROM REV. DR ROBINSON. QUAINT little French story sermons can be decided in this rapid way, so comes to my mind as I begin as by fire. Success in either direction dethis epistle to the father of letter- pends (1) on the man, (2) on the man's mood, writing. It seems that a literary (3) on the theme, (4) on the kind of audience gentleman met his friend on the the man is addressing. Some ministers can

street close by the open door of not extemporise. I know some who have his dwelling, and was arrested by the expres- told me they could not write. Now and then sion of delight he saw in his face; he inquired a preacher feels dull and spiritless, and dare instantly for the reason of such evident not trust to a simple brief; and there are subelation.' 'Oh, I have received a communica- jects which claim exactness, and must have tion from Voltaire !'he exclaimed. «Come in, clean-cut propositions and delicate ingenuities come in, and I will read you my answer to it!' of transition which cannot be struck out in It is quite possible that his startled friend the heats of rapid allocution, such as audiences would rather have heard the letter itself. call 'thrilling.

But I have something to say about this auto- Our theologues are becoming confused da-fe of sermons. The old pleasantry may hold among their counsellors. Most of us have good in many a history even of modern times: bought the volumes that have been issued sermons there are which have given more year by year since the lectures in New Haven light in a bonfire than ever they did in the began. Some of our greatest pulpit men say pulpit. Still, that is not true of everything one thing; some equally great say another. which has been unfortunate enough to be When a Senior is just going to graduate, he preached in the shadows. It would have becomes agitated with a piteous alarm, he been a pity to destroy the Astronomical Dis- asks his perturbed self now in full view of a courses of Thomas Chalmers, or the Theolo- possible pulpit : ‘Shall I follow the directions gical Sermons of Dr Dwight in Yale College. of the first book or the third, the second or To come to more modern orators, it would be the fourth ? If neither, what were they pubthe poorest sort of spiritual economy to burn lished for ? Am I to begin with writing and the discourses which are found in the five reading as a custom, or with no writing and volumes of Dr William M. Taylor, or in the rather more talk, or with a wise and modest two of Phillips Brooks, or in the six of mingling of the two ?' For, you see, my Frederick W. Robertson. The principle may patient Irenæus, the pulpit rabbis advise in possibly be strained too far, if this should be diametrically opposite exhortations ; which the result.

bewilders a young man who has just bought As to the danger of idleness, really that lies a stylographic pen and now wants a style. in the man, not in the manuscript. I know Perhaps he even goes so far as to ask, a full score of ministers who invariably make How can I ever become heroic enough for an their two fresh discourses each week, and yet Observer to praise me, unless I use some years who possess hundreds of old ones fully writ- in composing what my self-sacrifice can afterten, lying in solemn sarcophaguses close beside wards burn?' And then the thought crosses their desks. Surely these do not harm any- his mind that such a thing might be best of body; they are as aromatic of the good they all; for after the discipline of writing for a once did as so many mummies, and now and while, he would most likely be in condition to then from among them an illustration may be get on better by warming himself at a bonfire, taken which would grow if set out felicitously than he would now, if he should be bold in a new soil. If a sense of this does not enough to take so chilly a start with nothing hinder effort, the bravery of burning them to burn. would not be worth the match it would cost. When we look around us, it would appear

The princes of extemporaneous speaking, as if any one of an observing turn might draw in or out of the pulpit, seem to think it is a few very swift conclusions. The men who, worth while to have a stenographer to take like the late Dr Adams or the venerable Dr down their thoughts as they utter them, and Spring before him, have sustained themselves we do not hear of their having bonfires.' Mr the longest in first-class churches, have been Spurgeon, Mr Joseph Cook, Dr Parker-these accustomed to write and read their sermons. masters of speech gather the fragments that And the men who make most immediate imnothing be lost, to show to the students what pression upon promiscuous masses and fitful labour they cost. So just now we hear of a audiences for a single occasion do not often volume of President Garfield's orations in the write what they say in the pupit. It is the press; and it does not appear that Daniel unburnt sermons of both these classes which Webster or Edmund Burke felt so haunted by in books comfort and help the people after the their unburnt addresses that they left instruc- busy hand is vanished and the eloquent voice tions for them to perform suttee when they is still. themselves should need a funeral pyre.

Moreover, the habit of delivery varies in It does not seem to me that the question as the practice of the same speakers. I have to extemporaneous as opposed to written heard Mr Beecher read a written discourse

6

[ocr errors]
« ForrigeFortsett »