Abbildungen der Seite

between Pharaoh and Moses. And, more yet, there is a sound sense in which the Hebrews received notice, running through four hundred years, in the promise to Abraham. Gen. xv: 13, 14. Finally, the cavil hangs upon the brittle thread of a blunder of the Bishop's own, in the interpretation of Ex. xii: 12: “ for I will pass through the land of Egypt this night,” etc. He insists that the pronoun “this” designates the very day on which Jehovah was giving directions to Moses as to the Passover, whereas it evidently points to the “fourteenth day of the month” in verse 6; just as one might now say, “on the fourth day of July, 1876, on this very day, the first century of the independence of America will be completed.” Indeed, the same Hebrew pronoun occurs in Gen. vii : 11, and is well translated, in our version, “on the same day.”

Again, in Ex. xiii: 18, it is written, “ The children of Israel went up harnessed (armed) out of the land of Egypt.” Colenso asks whence 600,000 men obtained arms, and why was the immense host, if well armed, “sore afraid” when pursued by Pharaoh ? Ex. xiv: 10. To the first question the reply may be that the weapons of war, at that time in use, were of the simplest and cheapest kinds, as slings, bows, and javelins, and, therefore, easily obtained ; and, besides, in popular language, the people of a country are said to be in arms, although only a certain portion are actually equipped. To the second question the answer is, that long servitude had exhausted the courage of the Hebrews; and even brave men might be alarmed at the prospect of a battle if their wives and children, their aged and infirm, were all with them in the camp, having the deep sea in the rear.

The Bishop urges, very strongly, the statistical difficulty exhibited in the exchange of the first-born sons of all Israel for the males of the tribe of Levi. The number of males among the Hebrews is estimated at one million, of whom, as it is stated, 22,273 were first-borns, giving, apparently, about forty-four sons to each family. Num. iii : 43. This problem is solved, first, by the form of the expression in Num. iii: 12, "all the first-born that openeth the matrix,” which indicates that when the oldest child was a daughter, any son born afterward was not reckoned as a “first-born ;' reducing the ratio one-half. Secondly, the first-born sons, who had families of their own, would not, it is fair to presume, be counted, but their first-born sons only, or youth under sixteen or eighteen years of age, being about one-third of the whole. This diminishes the ratio to one-sixth, or an average of seven and a third sons to a family. Thirdly, polygamy prevailed to an unusual extent among the Hebrews. 1 Chron. vii : 4. In families where there was more than one mother, the first-born son of the first wife only was, probably, counted. Jacob had four sets of sons, but Reuben alone was acknowledged as the first-born. Gen. xlix: 3. This reduces the ratio still lower. If it be also remembered, fourthly, that the Hebrew women were, at this time, remarkably prolific, the difficulty is fully determined.

The other exceptions taken by Colenso to the historical credibility of the Pentateuch do not fall within the range of this paper. But their validity may be judged by the weight of those which have now been looked into. The author is said to have commenced his public labors by publishing an arithmetic. It is to be hoped that he stated his examples with more accuracy in his “rule of three,” than in his specimen of arithmetical theology. In this, certainly, he has not only exposed his mathematics to derision, but his theology also to the stinging aphorism cited by one of his critics, out of Suetonius : “ Negligenter circa Deos, quippe addictus mathematicce.

ART. II.-The Element of Admonition in the Epistle to the


We are liable to lose much of the instruction which the Scriptures might yield us from our faulty methods of reading them. We commonly read them, a chapter here and a chapter there; or, even if we read a whole book in course, yet we take only two or three chapters at a time.

Now, the division of the Scripture writings into chapters, wbile very convenient for reference, is yet often, as is well known, very arbitrary, so far as the meaning is concerned. Portions closely connected in sense are often separated into different chapters. It is very difficult, on this account, to read a book of Scripture, a chapter or two at a time, and yet so preserve in our minds the connection of the parts as to receive a proper impression of the whole. The Epistles of Paul are usually very closely connected in sense throughout; as much 80 as the ablest argument of an advocate or the best considered opinion of a judge. If we take the advocate's printed argument or the judge's opinion, and divide it into a dozen equal portions, and then read one or two portions to-day, and one or two to-morrow, here and there, we shall see how unsatisfactory is the process for ascertaining the full merits of the paper.

The Epistle to the Hebrews is a closely-connected writing, and it needs not only to be studied in its separate parts, but sometimes to be read through at a sitting. The element of teaching in this Epistle, referred to as the theme of this article, is all the more significant and impressive, from its being found to pervade the writing and to constitute one of its essential features; but this we should hardly perceive or feel, unless upon a view of the book as a whole.

A glance through this book reveals its main drift. It is an argument, addressed to Jews, and intended to convince them of the superiority of Christianity over Judaism. The book opens with a statement and proof of Christ's supreme divinity ; it then vindicates from objection the concurrent truth of Christ's humanity ; it next shows the superiority of Christ over Moses, the founder of the Jewish polity; it further exhibits his superiority as a Priest over the Levitical priesthood; and then, at much length, it argues the temporary and merely typical character of the Mosaic institutions, and the reality and perfection and enduring nature of the Christian economy, thus establishing the position that the very settingup of the Christian dispensation does of necessity abolish the Jewish rites—they vanish away, as the morning star disappears in the light of the rising sun.

Such is the main drift of the book. And as an argument addressed to Jews, we can not but greatly admire it, when we search into its deepest meanings and follow it step by step. So thoroughly does it review the whole field of Jewish worship, so

fully does it ascertain and reveal the true nature of the Jewish institutions, so satisfactorily does it dispose of Jewish objections to Christianity, and show that Christianity, in its every feature, is indeed the exact and glorious thing which Judaism itself, as symbolic of it, would have it to be, we are brought to a new and more delighted admiration of the book whenever we freshly examine it. And not only so; not only as a book addressed to Jews do we admire it, but we are ourselves instructed by it; we are instructed in the true nature of the religion of the Bible, whether as depicted in the shadowy representations of Old Testament rites, or as plainly revealed in the doctrine here unfolded concerning Christ's person and work. This book sheds a flood of light on the older Scriptures, while it further teaches, with a fullness and impressiveness nowhere else to be found, the great truth of Christ's divine and priestly mediation. Thus, in its main drift, it is of direct and permanent and universal interest.

Yet we would now call particular attention to the fact, that underneath this main drift of the book, there is another teaching, and one of scarcely less interest or importance. It is a teaching much less observed, and indeed very seldom observed at all, as a pervading element of the Epistle. But there it is, recurring to distinct view, again and again, from the beginning to the end of the book. Step by step, the apostle proceeds with his high argument for the superiority of the Christian dispensation, unfolding its glories and demonstrating its absolute and final character; yet at each step he pauses and interposes words of solemn warning. He drops for a time the argument, and addresses his readers with most earnest admonition. Thus, in the first chapter, we have the argument for our Saviour's supreme divinity. He is the Son of God, the brightness of God's glory and the express image of his person, the maker of the worlds and the almighty upholder of all things, whom all angels are commanded to worship, whom the Father calls. God and accounts as equal with himself. But with the beginning of the second chapter it is no longer argument-it is admonition: “ Therefore, we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. For if the word spoken by angels was steadfast, and every trans

the ground of in the third chapterated, the ar

gression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward,”— if this was so under the old economy—“how shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken," not by angels, but “by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him.” The superiority of Christianity over Judaism is thus made the ground of a solemn warning against neglecting its claims.

Looking on in the third chapter, we see that, after Christ's superiority to Moses is demonstrated, the argument again pauses and the admonition is resumed, continuing far into the next chapter: “ Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God." Take heed lest, under temptation, you reject Christ, as the Hebrews of old rejected Moses, forfeiting God's favor and perishing in the wilderness. In your case, both the danger and the guilt of unbelief are greater than in theirs.

Looking on again into the fifth and sixth chapters, we see that, after Christ's superiority over the Aaronic priesthood is exhibited, there is another pause and a yet more solemn warning. The language is, “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance, seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.”

Advancing still further, through the seventh, eighth, and ninth chapters into the tenth, we find that close upon the long argument here furnished for the superiority of the Christian economy, comes the renewed admonition corresponding with the argument, “For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking. for of judgment and fiery indignation which shall devour the adversaries. He that despised Moses' law, died without mercy under two or three witnesses; of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant wherewith he was sanctified an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the spirit of grace ?”

« ZurückWeiter »