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CONTENTS OF NO, I., VOL. V.-THIRD SERIES.
Translated by Rev. W. HALL, New York.
1. Neander's Church History.
1. 13, for “ part" r. fear.
The reader will, also, in some few places, substitute the Hebrew letter tau
THIRD SERIES, NO. XXI.---WHOLE NUMBER, LXXVII.
THE SPIRIT OF THE OLD TESTAMENT.
By Taylik LEWI, LLD., Prof. of the Greek Language and Literature, Union College,
It is commonly maintained that the Old Testament, in comparison with the New, and even when regarded in respect to its own intrinsic merits, is deficient in tenderness, in inward as distinguished from outward moral power, and, in a word, in what is commonly denoted by the term spirituality. Such an idea is not exclusively peculiar to the rationalizing, or the neological, interpreter. It may be often traced in the sermons of preachers who are styled evangelical, and in the writings of commentators who are supposed to hold the plenary inspiration of all parts of the acknowledged Word of God. Even by divines reputed orthodox, is it sometimes held, that in this Older Scripture there are actually wanting some of the fundamental truths of salvation. It is maintained that that there is to be found therein no trace, or but the faintest trace, of views, without which the lowest form of any thing like spiritual religion would seem to be an impossibility, without which the devotions and devotional writings of God's chosen people must be regarded as falling, in this respect, below the known standard of heathen and classical pietism.
Many, too, within the reputed pale of evangelical Christendom, appear to be taking a step even in advance of these opinions so perilous to all solid and healthy faith in Scriptural inspiration. The sentiment is growing more and more in our churches, (and it would seem to be one of the most noticeable signs of the times) that the Old Testament is rapidly becoming, if it has not already become, obsolete in respect to us and our age,—that for the present Christian church it possesses chiefly an antiquarian value, - that its teachings are, in great measure, if not wholly, superTHIRD SERIES, VOL. VI., No. 1 1
seded by the higher and purer instructions of the new dispensation
-nay more, that they are actually at war, and, in some very important respects too, with what is called the genius and spirit of the gospel.
How all this is to be reconciled with any consistent belief that the Old Testament writings are verily included in what Paul denominates yoach de ÓT VEVOtos-Scripture given by the inspiration, or inbreathing of God,-it would indeed be hard to determine. It would be equally, if not more, difficult, to maintain its consistency with the solemn reverence our divine Saviour ever manifested for the books of the Jewish canon,-his constant appeals to the certainty of their predictions,-his implicit faith in Holy Scripture, iv tais ypapais tais dylus, as something “which could not be broken," and which contained the evidence or credentials of his own divine mission,-his deep sense of the spiritual richness of that ancient law, the least jot or tittle of which was to survive the dissolution of the heavens and the earth,-his apparently sincere and unsuspecting trust in the accuracy of their historical and supernatural narrations, whenever referred to in illustration of his own didactic warnings,-his continual accommodation of their devotional parts to his own spiritual wants, and this too, not merely in public, by way of condescension, as it might be said, to the national prejudices, but in all the honesty and truthfulness of his most private exercises whether of conflict or of triumph,-his liturgical use of the Psalms, even of passages standing, sometimes, in immediate connection with others for which our more rational commentators, in their higher spirituality, would deem it necestary to apologise, on the ground of their belonging to an obsolete and less spiritual worship,—his righteous zeal for the purity of the ancient law, and for the maintenance of its primitive simplicity and integrity in opposition to the perverse traditions of the Jews, --and, to sum up all, the high honor he delighted to confer upon the Old Testament by ever citing it in proof of his own doctrines, as the lex scripta that formed the immutable ground of his own instructions, as the firm support of his own faith in the dark hour of conflict and temptation, as the medium of his soul's utterance in the agonies of the garden and the cross,-to reconcile this, we say, with the anti-evangelical theories of the Old Testament, would require a higher degree of hermeneutical skill than is needed for the solution of the worst difficulties of these strange yet sublime records of God's earliest revelations especially when we bear in mind that these books, which the Saviour so devoutly studied, were substantially the same (as every scholar knows) with the now-acknowledged Jewish canon, and that HE who ever mani. fested such deep and deferential reverence for the authority of the lex scripta, was himself the Supernatural and Infinite Reason,
The Eternal Wisdom, that “True Light that lighteth every man who cometh into the world.”
And the opinions to which we have alluded are gaining ground. They are presenting themselves in their most extreme and startling forms. Among many heretofore reputed evangelical, they have had their origin in zeal for a false philosophy of reform, with which the unyielding spirit of the Old Testament would seem to come in direct collision. Their rationalising casuistry, and shallow utilitarianism, and abstract philanthropy, cannot brook its stern method of resolving all morality into a strict observance of the duties arising from the acknowledged relations of human life, and of deducing all its sanctions from the acknowledged sovereignty of God. There seems too little reason, too little regard to the “fitness of things,” too little recognition of the universe as something back of Deity, too little of that philosophy of the "greatest happiness of the greatest number of sentient beings,” in a law whose only sanction is ever the same solemn Ani-Jehovah,—I am the Lord. Hence such opinions are held by very many who are unconscious of the danger attending them, and of the inevitable consequences which must be the result. The signs of the times indicate a still wider diffusion; and unless checked by timely expositions of their fallacy, they must end in a fruitful harvest of skepticism in respect to the inspiration of all Scripture, both new and old.
To return, however, to some of our first points, or to that which is seemingly the least faith-destroying of these neological dogmasThere are many, we may say, who stop short of the view taken by Warburton, Whateley, and the great mass of modern rationalists. They recognise in the Old Testament an implied belief, to say the least, in a future life, and would even regard certain passages as express declarations to that effect, or at all events, as admitting no fair interpretation in any other way. Still, even among such is it very generally maintained, as something uncontrovertible, that the hopes and fears of the Jew, even of the pious Jew, were directed mainly to temporal objects, and that outward rites and ceremonies formed a far greater part, and a more acknowledged part of their religion than the cultivation of any spiritual affections having reference to the eternal and the invisible.
The Old Testament, it is often said, looked mainly to the outward, the ceremonial, the formal, the carnal, while it insists but faintly upon the inward, the unseen, and the spiritual. The latter were not wholly lost sight of, but they were almost entirely reserved for the later and higher revelation. The gospel first laid the main stress on inward rectitude of motive; it first declared the blessedness of him who had not only “clean hands," but“ a pure heart." There
. is doubtless some truth in this, but at the same time, more that is fallacious. There is such a thing as destroying the very ground