Abbildungen der Seite

by it.

tures, have made use of a term, that had the effect of sending them to the perusal of a different set of works or writings from what He Himself intended. But this would undoubtedly have taken place, had He meant by the term “scriptures,” any other collection of books than what they meant

Instead of which He made use of their own term, and gave no explanation-which He would have done, had His sense of it been different from theirs. But He knew what the common understanding was; and on this He proceeded, for He Himself shared in it. The scriptures of their estimation were the scriptures of His estimation also. Or, in other words, we have the authority of Christ and His Apostles, for the received canon of the Old Testament in their days being the true canon. Nor can we imagine aught so resistless in the way of proof, as the utter absence of any charge against the Jews, on the part of the first teachers of Christianity-as if they had vitiated or adulterated, or in any way mutilated and changed their own scriptures, When the Apostle Paul says, that to them were committed the oracles of God, there is not one whisper of insinuation that they had in the least corrupted, or been at all unfaithful in their care and custody of these writings. But, strongest of all, our Saviour never laid any such condemnation upon them. Had there been any ground for such a condemnation, He, of all others, would, with the utmost promptitude and power, have charged it home upon them. It is true that they had made void the commandments of God, but in another way than by altering or vitiating the re

cord of these commandments—by oral tradition; and he was not slow in charging them for this delinquency. We may be very sure, that, had there been any practising on their part with the scriptures themselves—we may be very sure, that He, who denounced their traditions, would have denounced, as an offence still more flagrant, the sacrilegious liberties they had taken with the oracles of God. Instead of which, in opposing their traditions, He did it by means of an express quotation from the writings of Moses—making use of their scriptures as they stood, and never giving us the least intimation in the course of His public ministry, notwithstanding His frequent allusions and appeals to them, that the true scriptures were at all different from the acknowledged and received scriptures. He set aside their traditions, but He did unqualified homage to their scriptures—two things as apart from each other in the days of our Saviour as they are now—as distinct and distinguishable, in fact, as the Hebrew Old Testament is from the Jewish Talmud, in which the traditions have been embodied and have received a local habitation and a name. Had the Jewish scriptures, in our Saviour's days, been mutilated by erasures, or vitiated by admixtures, or right books been displaced, or wrong books inserted in their roomour Saviour would have told us so- or, in other words, had there been a false canon in these days, He would have stated anew for our information the true canon of the Old Testament. The information given by the Jews themselves in regard to the genuineness of their scriptures, thus acquiesced

in and thus deferred to by the Author of Christianity, we receive as at the mouth of the Saviour. The Jews and Christians separated from each other, with the very same list however of Old Testament scriptures; and these, laying aside the great Popish adulteration and a few minor ones, remain unchanged with each of the parties to the present day. We cannot imagine a more secure basis for the canon of the Old Testament, than the authentication of that very list by Christ and His Apostles—thus giving the benefit of all the evidence for the new, to the scriptures of the elder dispensation.

9. We shall now enter, in detail, on the scriptural evidence for each of the particular books of the Old Testament; but, before doing so, let us advert to certain larger divisions into which they were grouped by the Hebrews; and the traces of which are to be found in the Bible itself. There was the book of their law, consisting of our Pentateuch, or five books of Moses, and originally written in one volume. There was the book of the prophets, which yet comprehended certain of the historical, and excluded certain of the prophetical writings. There was lastly the book of the Hagiographa or Holy writings, the inspiration of which was not doubted by the Jews as to its reality, but which were distinguished from the former in their reckoning by the mode of the inspiration. Moses the author of the first class of these books was universally held to be the most illustrious of all their sacred writers, being the only one admitted to direct and personal converse

with God.* The authors of the second class were conceived to have had their communications made to them by dreams and visions, or even by a voice. The authors of the third class were regarded too as divinely inspired men, only that instead of being honoured by any sensible manifestations of the Divinity, they wrote under the impulse of a silent and authoritative guidance on their own minds. They were besides conceived to have no public mission as prophets, and so neither were their works though inspired read publicly. The circumstance of the book of Daniel being ranked among the Hagiographa, is ascribed to the power of evidence which lies in it for the truth of Christianity, and to the consequent apprehension lest if read in their synagogues, they might lead any to embrace this religion. This distinction might appear to degrade certain of the writers of the Old Testament beneath the rank of infallible teachers from Heaven; but it will be found not to affect the reality of their inspiration, only the mode of it -and even for this there seems to have been no solid ground—the reasons alleged for it by the learned among the Jews being of a very fanciful or legendary character. One great benefit of the scriptural evidence that we shall allege for each of the several books is, that it must restore the confidence which this distinction might have otherwise impaired—as it will occasionally be found, that there is a greater weight and splendour of this evidence for certain of the books which have

Numb. xii. 6-8.

been placed in the lowest class, than for many of those which have had a higher rank and precedency assigned to them.

Whatever authority may be attached to the opinion of the Jews, respecting the methods and degrees of inspiration which obtained among the writers of the Old Testament—there can be no doubt of the threefold distribution, as if into three volumes, that was made of them. It is recognized in the scriptures themselves; and we should lose a certain portion of the evidence that we are now in quest of, if we omitted the testimonies given, not separately to the individual books, but aggregateiy to one or other of these larger collections. We shall find traces at least for the book of the law as one separate book, consisting of the five books of Moses, but isolated from all other scripture, even in the Old Testament; and in the New we have abundant evidence both for it and for the other two besides. “ Think not that I am coine to destroy the law or the prophets."* * For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.” “ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

“ And David himself sayeth in the book of Psalms." S “ And he said to him these are the words which I spake to you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the Psalms concerning me." “ For it is written in the book of Psalms, let his habitation be desolate,"**

»** &c.

• Matt. v. 17. & Luke XX. 42.

+ Matt. xi. 13.
|| Luke xxiv. 44.

* Matt. xxii. 40. ** Acts i. 20.

« ZurückWeiter »