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The Bible to be studied as a whole.


other the initiatory and imperfect revelation of these principles to the Apostle's mind. Because David reaches a higher strain of religious and moral utterance than we find from Moses, it is concluded that David had a fuller and clearer intelligence of Divine truth than Moses had. To us all this seems most baseless and precarious speculation. May not a writer have a whole system of truth in his mind, and yet not feel himself called upon, on every occasion of using his pen, to utter it wholly, or to utter it with equal energy and eloquence? Would it be fair to charge a preacher with only a rudimentary acquaintance with Christianity, because in a sermon he confined himself to the simplest elements of the Gospel? Sometimes an author's most elementary expositions are his maturest works; and it not unfrequently happens that it is his very mastery of his subject in all its details that best fits him for teaching it in the simplest forms. Why, then, must we suppose that, when the sacred writers express themselves in a simple, or even rude form, the cause of this is to be sought in their own partial acquaintance with Divine truth? May the cause not rather be, that, like the greatest of all teachers of religious truth, they accommodated both the matter and the form of their teaching to the circumstances of their hearers, and taught them 'as they were able to bear it?'

On these grounds, we think our researches into the theology of the Bible ought to be fettered by no such restriction as that which Mr. Litton has proposed to lay on our examination of that of the Old Testament. Assuming, as we must needs do in such an inquiry, the equal authority of all the books of Holy Scripture as given by inspiration of God, we would insist upon the whole being examined and compared, and the statements of one part supplemented or expounded by those of another, as the only just and hopeful method of arriving at a conclusion on the subject. Our inquiry in such a case is analogous to that of persons engaged in the geological survey of a country; every stone has some story to tell, every cropping supplies its link of evidence, and rocks, separated by many miles of chasm, may furnish unmistakeable proof of the existence of one great and continuous whole, of which they originally formed parts.

Taking the Old Testament, then, in its entireness, let us inquire into the evidence it affords as to the religious knowledge attainable by those who lived under the former dispensation, and as to the spiritual privileges they enjoyed. And here we shall not dwell on the representation given in the Hebrew Scriptures of the Divine Being and Attributes, or of the moral and spiritual condition of man in relation to God. On these subjects there are few who will not admit that the views presented in the Old Testa

ment are accordant with, and almost as clear as, those presented in the New. A few writers, indeed, like Mr. Parker, still hang upon the anthropomorphisms of the Old Testament, and would fain persuade us that persons by whom such modes of representation are used could have no just or spiritual views of the Deity; but even De Wette refuses to give in to this cavil,* and we may safely leave it to be disposed of by the common sense of mankind. We may also assume that most candid inquirers will agree with the very free-thinking, but most learned and acute writer just mentioned, that whilst on the one hand 'Hebraism places man very high,' it on the other represents the moral nature of man as corrupt,' and that 'sin is inherited from the first man by the rest. Assuming these points, we pass on at once to place ourselves in front of the great problem of all religion, arising out of the relation of man as a sinner to God, as the Holy, All-perfect, and Omnipotent Governor-the problem, 'How shall man be just with God?' What answer might a pious and intelligent Jew under the ancient dispensation be able to give to such a question?

The Jew found himself from his birth a member of a very peculiar institution. In this institution the Church and the State were one, and every Jew was by birthright a member of the former no less than of the latter. Jehovah, the God of the whole earth, was the political Head of the Jewish state, enacted laws for its government, and enforced the observance of them by temporal sanctions. Whilst thus brought into peculiarly close and privileged intimacy with the Most High, the Jew was never permitted to forget the immense distance which separated him from God, nor the fact of his continual unworthiness and uncleanness in the sight of Him who is Holy. Though Israel was a priestly nation, no individual could approach unto God save through the medium of an official priesthood, appointed by God, and solemnly consecrated to his service. Continual purifications were required even in cases where no moral impurity was necessarily contracted, and, when offences of an open kind were committed, it was only by offering sacrifice that they could be remitted. Sacrifice had also to be presented to clear away the guilt of offences not detected or inadvertently committed; and to cover all and protect the nation from the Divine displeasure, a great annual act of expiation had to be performed, so as to free the community from its sins. There was thus a continual remembrance of sins made, so as to keep before the minds of the people an abiding consciousness, at once of their own proneness to trans*Biblische Dogmatik A. und N. Testaments, s. 73, 76. Ibid., s. 91, 92.

Religion under the Theocracy.


gression, and of God's hatred of sin and jealousy of his own glory. Only by sins being continually purged away could Israel retain God's presence in their sanctuary, and avert his wrath from them

and their land.

It has been made a question whether the lustrations and sacrifices of the Jews had any immediate effect on their interests as members of the theocracy, or were only designed to bear on their welfare as subjects of God's moral government. There can, we think, be little reason to doubt that the former is the true hypothesis on this subject. The theocracy, as it presented itself to the eye of the observer, was wholly an outward and temporal institute. God, it is true, was the Head and Sovereign of the system; but He ruled by means of temporal instrumentality, and by the force of temporal sanctions. As King of Israel his relation to the people was purely outward. An offence might involve deep moral guilt, but it was not on account of this that it was taken notice of by the authorities under the theocracy; they had to do with it only as a political offence, an offence against the State, and which had to be expiated by sacrifice, and washed away by purifications, before it could be forgiven. Here, then, was the immediate effect of sacrifice under the law; it was the legal method of purging a criminal from his guilt, so that he might be restored to his place as a member of the community. And what was thus the effect of particular sacrifices on individuals was the effect of general sacrifices on the nation; they purged it from national guilt, and averted God's judgments from the land.

There are some that have contended that, under the law, only offences of a ceremonial kind were expiated by sacrifice. This statement may be correct or it may be erroneous, according to the sense in which we take the word ceremonial. If by it is intended to express the idea that it was only as violations of theocratic law that offences were directly expiated by sacrifice among the Jews, we would regard the statement as true. But if by 'ceremonial' it is meant to exclude offences that were in their nature moral, and include only such as were breaches of positive institutes, we must reject it as wholly erroneous. Nothing can be more explicit than the words of the law itself on this head. Not only do we read that if a soul shall sin through ignorance against any of the 'commandments of the Lord, concerning things that ought 'not to be done, and shall do against them,' 'the priest 'shall make an atonement for his sin that he hath committed, and it shall be forgiven him; but in the ordinances for

Lev. iv. 2, 35.


trespass offerings special mention is made of such moral offences as inconsiderate swearing, falsehood, and dishonesty, along with political offences, such as refusing to give witness against a criminal,* and such purely ceremonial offences as touching an unclean thing,t-all three being placed on the same level as respects the efficacy of sacrifice in clearing from guilt the party chargeable with them. Indeed, the general law relating to the trespassoffering is laid down in words of the most comprehensive import: — If a soul sin and commit any of these things which are for'bidden to be done by the commandments of the Lord . . . he shall bring a ram without blemish out of the flock, with thy 'estimation for a trespass-offering unto the priest, and the priest 'shall make atonement for him.' And with respect to the annual expiation for the whole nation on the great day of atonement the law runs thus:- On that day shall the priest make an atonement for you to cleanse you, that you may be clean from " all your sins before the Lord.'s These passages seem to preclude the supposition that only breaches of ritual and positive laws were expiated by sacrifice; they evidently teach that for all offences, moral as well as ritual, atonement was thus made. Of course, acts involving rebellion against God, acts incompatible with the very existence of the theocracy, or indeed any form of government, could not be so easily cancelled, and for some such there was no forgiveness. In the case of sins, also, against their fellows, by which injury or loss was caused to them, restitution had to be made, or a civil penalty endured, before the guilt of the act as a theocratic offence could be forgiven. But with these qualifications, the position holds good, that all offences committed by a Jew against any of the Lord's commandments might be expiated by sacrifice, so as to exempt the party who had offended from theocratic penalties, and reinstate him in his theocratic privileges.

The whole truth on this part of the subject is expressed, we take it, in the following statement: Sacrifice, as an institute of the theocracy, was an expedient for cancelling theocratic guilt. This was the whole extent of its immediate effect. It left the political, the social, and the moral bearings of the offence untouched. If the offence was one which could not be passed over with safety to the state, it was not passed over, but was punished with civil penalties; if it was one involving injury to a neighbour, compensation had to be made either by restitution or by the penalty of the lex talionis; and if it was a breach of a moral law, the guilt remained, unless taken away by moral means. The act

* Lev. v. 4; vi. 2-7.

Lev. v. 17, 18.

+ Lev. v. 1, 2.

§ Lev. xvi. 30. Comp. ver. 34.

Effect of the Mosaic Sacrifices.


of sacrifice directly touched none of these things; it simply removed theocratic disabilities, and restored to theocratic privileges.

Had Mr. Litton sufficiently adverted to this view of the immediate effect of sacrifice under the law, it might have saved him from the remarks he has made at the close of his third Lecture, which we think the feeblest part of his book. In order, as he thinks, to reconcile the conflicting views above adverted to, he recurs to the etymology of the Hebrew word for atonement (formed from to cover), and suggests that moral offences under the law were only covered or hid from the sight of God, not really expiated; so that God forbore the immediate execution of the penalty, tolerated the existence of the sin, when; in obedience to His command, the prescribed sacrifices of atonement were offered. This suggestion seems to us exceedingly unhappy and objectionable. In the first place, we are at a loss to see how such an hypothesis does help to reconcile the theories of sacrifice it is adduced to reconcile. One party says that these sacrifices cancelled only ceremonial guilt; the other party says that they expiated all guilt. How does it make these contrary opinions one, to say that the sin was not cancelled at all, but merely for a season covered? Secondly: Mr. Litton has not made it very clear whether he means his hypothesis to apply to all offences, moral and ceremonial, or only to the former; but in either case his hypothesis is fallacious. If he means it to apply to all offences, then was there really no offence of any kind forgiven under the law through means of sacrifice; a statement directly opposed to the often repeated assurance appended to the laws concerning the offering of sacrifice, and his sin shall be forgiven him. If he means it to apply to moral offences only, then he introduces an unauthorised distinction into the Divine law, which places moral offences on a level with ceremonial, in relation to the atoning effect of sacrifice; arbitrarily makes the word

which is alike used of both, to mean a different thing in the one case from what it does in the other; and requires such statements as the following, to make atonement for the children of Israel, for all their sins, once a year,'* to receive a double interpretation, one referring to their ceremonial sins, which were perfectly atoned for, and another to their moral offences, which were only imperfectly atoned for. Thirdly: We must protest against such a confusion of thought and language as is exhibited in identifying atonement with respite, the covering of sins from the punitive justice of God, with the forbearance and long-suf fering of God which forbid Him to execute judgment speedily

*Lev. xvi. 34.

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