« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
--but a pretended history without any real authority, a fiction palmed on people as a truth, then, how can it be subservient to the ends of truth ? How can it promote truth ? How can it teach truth ? How is it compatible with a veneration for truth? No lie is of the truth, and no truth is of a lie. Justly asks a modern Jewish Rabbi, “ Will he have us believe that God could reveal himself through a book which contains such absurdities as he has discovered in it?" If it be a mixture of truth and falsehood,-a mass of chaff and wheat,—like the early legends of Rome, then are we in a maze about it altogether, and for all purposes of instruction, warning, and comfort, it becomes entirely worthless.
No direct attack is made in the present controversy on the Inspiration of the Pentateuch, but only on its credibility. But the credibility of the Pentateuch is involved in its inspiration. The two are inseparably connected. We cannot think upon the one any length of time, without finding that our thoughts, of necessity, get interwoven with the other. If we set ourselves to trace the Divine signatures on the leaves of this five-fold volume-if we consider the supernatural wisdom involved in much of the matter, and in the whole of the manner of the records ; if, in connexion with the expression of a broad and genial sympathy with man and all his doings, so obvious from the first chapter of Genesis to the last of Deuteronomy, we take up, link by link, that chain of superhuman knowledge of persons and things, of superhuman acquaintance with man and God, of superhuman revelation of events and character, of superhuman unfoldings of secrets in the bosom of the past and the womb of the future-then do we find ourselves, ever and anon, irresistibly landed on the assurance that we have here one of the truest histories of time that mankind possess—that, upon spiritual and eternal foundations, we have here built up before us veritable and unimpeachable stories of the changing and progressive fortunes of humanity, when the world was young, and before ever the oldest of heathen sages, or chroniclers, or poets were born or thought of. If anybody says the book is not true, it is hard to see how he can, in any honest sense, hold the book to be Divine. With its truth, away goes its connexion with the God of truth. · And so, on the other hand, if a person undermines the supernatural characteristics of this introduction to the rest of the Bible—if he tries to make out that it is simply a human compositionthat it was no more inspired than the history of Herodotus, or the poems of Homer, then the credibility of the narrative crumbles away, piece by piece, under the handling of criticism. And that, not because there is a want of coherence in the documents, taken as a whole, but because, when we have abstracted the divine element, web is separated from woof, and the whole fabric ravels out at once. The thread is broken on which the pearls bung, and so they drop off and roll awayand we lose altogether that which we are told to “bind about our neck," as well as to write upon the table of our hearts.
Just to touch on a few proofs of the inspiration of the Pentateuch, what shall we say of the wisdom, prudence, foresight, grasp of mind, comprehensiveness of range, and minuteness of detail, which surprisingly distinguish the collection of the Mosaic statutes, as shown by learned commentators, who have patiently gone over them, and elicited their character, so as to fix on them the admiration of jurists and statesmen ? And, besides, what shall we say of that beautiful spirit of benignity and consideration which softens the harsher features of the code-that mercy which rejoices over judgment-and that singularly elerated legislative genius, which anticipates, in some respects, the best forms of the modern spirit of law? What shall we say of the tendency of the whole-political, ethical, and religious—so adapted to lift up the Jewish people out of their semi-barbarism-teaching them as they were able to bear it, not putting new wine into old bottles, and yet educating the race for the still loftier morality of the prophets, and the facts and doctrines of evangelists and apostles ? What shall we say, also, of the wonderful typical character of the Jewish law, so anticipative and illustrative of Christianity, as Paul has shown in his epistle to the Hebrews-and now, in our Christian studies, felt to be so important in our understanding of the Gospel-so important, indeed, that we are conscious we never should have understood the mediation, atonement, and intercession of Jesus, if the law had not been “a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ ?” And to go further afield, what shall we say of that impartiality, so divine-like, so suggestive of Him who is “no respecter of persons,'
," but whose "eyes are as a flame of fire, running to and fro in the earth, beholding the evil and the good," which is ever calmly and grandly manifesting itself through the Mosaic narratives, presenting without excuse and mitigation the faults and failings of men whom the later Jews idolized, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Moses himself? And what shall we say of that marvellous piece of biography, the life of Joseph, which opens such a window into the history of Providence, which gives a glimpse of some of the secret springs of the Divine government? And what, in fine, shall we say of that chief distinction of the Pentateuchthe revelation of God, the one only true Jehovah, before whom the gods of the heathen are vanity; creating the world at the beginning; forming and fashioning the earth and all things in it; making man in his own image; and putting forth his hand to redeem him as soon as he fell, and raising up holy men to do and teach his will; punishing the ungodly, preserving the righteous; looking down out of heaven upon Noah and his family, fresh from the ark, to make with them a merciful covenant, with the rainbow for a sign; and talking to Abraham, in the still hour of night, while the stars bore witness to his words, and illustrated their meaning; and on Moriah after the patriarch's faith and obedience; and revealing himself to Jacob in the dream of the ladder, and the mystic act of the wrestling; and announcing himself to Moses out of the bush, as the great I Am; and confounding Pharaoh and his hosts, and leading forth His redeemed ones, amidst types and prefigurations of the rich redemption to be wrought out by His Son; and so ruling and guiding the children of Israel through the desert, as to make their history a homily for the Church to the end of time; a pictorial and illuminated copy of the acts of our individual pilgrimage; a map and a chart in colours and gold of the march and movements of the sacramental army of Christ's ransomed people? And what shall we say of those sublime and tender representations of the Almighty Father of mankind, in the last song of Moses, as he set life and death before the people; and carried them in his bosom, as a nursing father beareth his child; and then, having shown them his whole heart, went up Nebo to die? What, we conclude, shall we say of such things but this, that if the Spirit of God be not specially, and fully, and potently here, then is inspiration nowhere in the Bible, and the idea of a revelation is entirely a dream !
The divinity of the Pentateuch, so abundantly established, confirms its credibility. Can we believe that it is a revelation of God either through a disunited, confused, and contradictory assemblage of fragments, consisting merely of legends, exaggerated traditions and cunningly devised fables, or through an expanded myth, so composed that all the world, except a few philosophical critics, read it as a history ? Talk of difficulties, contradictions, impossibilities; why, to affirm that God reveals himself to man through a story where truth and falsehood are inextricably interwoven, or through a seeming history? which has no basis of reality, is of all difficulties the most difficult, of all contradictions the most contradictory, and of all impossibilities the most impossible. But that God should reveal himself to man through facts, through His actual dealings with our race, through dispensations of His will touching the every-day affairs of the world, and appealing to the hearts of men, and stirring up their consciences, and guiding their experience; that amidst the disorder and confusion of men's unbelief and superstition, and manifold evil ways, God should actually come forth from His invisible dwelling, to cross the path of mortals, to assure them that there is a divine order, fixed and certain, wbich they cannot, after all, disturb, and to which they must submit in reverence and love, if they would be good and happy ;-what can be more reasonable, more in harmony with the teaching of our own conscience, and more accordant with the course of Providence, as we have it at this hour?
In our next we intend to examine in detail some of the principal objections started by Bishop Colenso; but before doing so we deem it only a righteous course to state the true nature of the controversy, and to point out positive arguments for the credibility of the Pentateuch as the necessary condition of all inquiry into such difficulties as may be alleged to exist in connexion with the subject.
A Word upon Fretting.
To fret is to fray out. A garment ravelled at the edges is frayed, or in other words fretted. So human life may be like the apparel we put on. When you say a man looks worn you have the same idea. Day by day little events worry and wear the delicate edges of the human heart. To have a capacity of being fretted in our constitution proves that we are still men of feeling; not blunted in sensibility, but with that sensibility, perhaps, o'er sensitive.
Our Father in heaven gives us kind counsel when He says to each of us, “ Fret not thyself ;” and by the strength of the principle of faith be provides a means of deliverance from fretting. For the secret of this malady is in this-Want of faith in that God who is present to overrule the minute as well as the mighty matters of human life.
Do not fray yourself out then; for, to take the lowest ground, to fret is useless; fretting never repaired the broken vase, nor replaced the lost watch, nor restored the scattered fortune, nor recalled the spoken word. So far from being a useful state of mind -as repentance is—fretting positively hampers and hinders us; it weakens what little power we have left, and quenches altogether the smouldering fire of hope. It hinders our usefulness ; for if we do become active in any capacity, our activity has none of Hezekiah's heartiness in it, who“ did it with all his heart, and prospered."
It hinders also our happiness. Great troubles, like great storms, are severe and sharp, and over! But fretting is like the drizzling sleet which beats in upon you at all points, and lasts through the long, long hours. Nothing can be appreciated by a spirit so ill at ease. There is no peace within. And think how it hinders health. Anxiety makes appetite fail, and earnestness flag. We become at last like some drooping flower that nothing seems to restore, because there is deep down beneath the soil a small worm, eating out the very centre of our heart's core.
Neither can any excuse be pleaded for our special selves : because all might fret if they were to give in to the feeling. Each man you meet has been disappointed in many things, and had his hopes blighted in some of his dearest desires. If all indulged in the melancholy of this minor key, what a sad sound would fill the world!
And think of the ingratitude of it. Do we believe that a kind Father is working all things, not only wisely, but kindly ? all for our good; and that He is expending time and thought upon the plan of our individual life? To fret is to be ingrates towards Him whom we believe to be lovingly interested in all that appertains to His children. We may be sure that He who gave us His only Son, will not withhold from us any good thing
I feel sure, too, that it is one of the most common sins. And I do not shrink from the expression sin !—common to us all. Little circumstances chafe us. And what an influence they have upon our meditations and our prayers !
How disturbed is that serene atmosphere in which the soul would else rest in the Lord, and wait patiently upon
Him! There are various remedies for this fretting, if we will but deign to try them. One is, looking back--simple retrospection-how the most unlikely things have worked out, even in this world, beneficent results. How we learn, even here, to say, It is well. Jacob said, “ All these things are against me ;” and yet in the time of famine, even in his experience it was true, All these things are for me. And if we keep the promises of the Saviour before us, especially those which teach us that through much tribulation, or many troubling things, we must enter the kingdom of heaven, we shall learn patience and resignation to the end.
Why should not our peace flow like a river ? This it would do if we took the stones out of the brook—these break the waters; these fret the tranquil current of the stream of life. Fret not thyself! Perhaps there is only one mosquito. Oh, traveller, that is all enough. One little worry every day will soon wear you down. Therefore try and rid yourself of each cause for fretfulness as it tries to make itself a home in the human heart.
It is easy to see that fretting is different from legitimate Christian grief: the mind, like the body, can better bear strong agonies than slow and lingering tortures; we regain our mental elasticity after the former, we lose it by the latter. Bend the spring double, yet it will rebound to its old place; keep it for a long time in the same depressed state, and it will not altogether regain its strength. Now, fretting is a condition of mind in which trouble unstrings us; consequently, we are the easy subjects of depression and vexation.
Above all, remember it is GOD who says, Fret not thyself. And as the mother hushes the fretful child, and wipes its tears away, till over the April countenance comes sunshine again, blending beautifully with showers, so we may rest in the Lord.
“ Commit thou all thy griefs
And ways into his hands." It is marvellous what an amount of work man and beast can do if they are not fretted. Whip, whip, whip, stoppage, stoppage, stoppage, and the
poor horse is in the knacker's yard, when otherwise he had been free to work and ready for the yoke.
You will say, this is asking impossible conditions ; that we are all subjected to vexatious hindrances and harassing conditions of life, specially in an age where in every grade and profession of life mind