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2. While some of the Anabaptists thus set aside the Old Testament as unnecessary, others adopted an error of a different character, and insisted that the whole civil and ceremonial law was still a matter of divine obligation for Christians. The outcome of this was seen in the extraordinary scenes that took place soon after 1533 at Münster in Westphalia, where the Anabaptists, under John of Leyden, set up what can only be described as a parody of the Jewish commonwealth, which they termed the “ New Jerusalem.”1 That the error was causing trouble in England also appears from the Reformatio Legum Ecclesiasticarum, in which it is expressly condemned, together with the entire rejection of the Old Testament.
“De iis, qui vetus Testamentum aut totum rejiciunt, aut totum exigunt. Deinde quomodo priscis temporibus Marcionitarum sordes, Valentinianorum et Manichæorum fluxerunt, et aliæ similes earum multæ fæces, a quibus vetus Testamentum ut absurdum malumque, et cum novo dissidens, repudiabatur, sic multi nostris temporibus inveniuntur, inter quos Anabaptistæ præcipue sunt collocandi, ad quos si quis vetus Testamentum alleget, illud pro abrogato jam et obsoleto penitus habent, omnia quæ in illo posita sunt ad prisca majorum nostrorum tempora referentes. Itaque nihil eorum ad nos statuunt pervenire debere. Aliorum autem contrarius est, sed ejusdem impietatis error, qui usque adeo vetus ad Testamentum adhærescunt, ut ad circumcisionem et a Mose quondam institutas ceremonias necessario nos revocent."?
The principal subjects to be considered in connection with this Article are the following:
1. The Old Testament is not contrary to the New. 1 See Mosheim's Ecclesiastical History, vol. iii. p. 143 (Ed. Stubbs). Reformatio Legum Ecclesiasticarum, De Hæresibus, ch. 4.
2. The old fathers did not look only for transitory promises.
3. The ceremonial and civil law of the Jews is not binding on Christians.
4. The moral law remains of lasting and universal obligation.
I. The Old Testament is not contrary to the New. The statement of the Article on this subject is as follows: The Old Testament is not contrary to the New, for both in the Old and New Testament everlasting life is offered to mankind by Christ, who is the only Mediator between God and man, being both God and man.
In the present day there is perhaps no probability of a revival of the view of many among the early Gnostics that the Old Testament is positively contrary to the New. Such a position could scarcely be taken up by anyone who started from the acceptance of the canon of the New Testament without mutilation. The several books of it are so interpenetrated with references and allusions to the Scriptures of the Jews, and the gospel is so manifestly built up upon the Old Dispensation that an actual contradiction between the two is almost inconceivable. But modern criticism has insisted so strongly on the inferiority of the Old Testament to the New, and has brought out into such strong relief the imperfection of the old system, that it may be well to point out that there is nothing in the Article which calls us to deny this imperfection, or to maintain that the Old Testament is not inferior to the New.
The general statements made in the article were clearly never intended to decide details of criticism or to bind the clergy who sign them to a particular view of the religious development of Israel The principle which our Lord Himself has taught us that some things were permitted under the Old Covenant " for the hardness of men's hearts "I admits of a wide
of application. But if the two dispensations are both from the same God they cannot be contrary the one to the other. That is the main point which the Article is concerned to maintain, and room is left for whatever views the discoveries of criticism may establish or render probable as to the condition of Israel in early days, the origin of its sacred rites, and the course of its religious development.
Further, it will be noticed that the Article bases the unity of the two Testaments on the hope of redemption through the Messiah, which is common to them both. The same position is maintained in the homilies. In the “second part of the homily of faith," the writer says of the "old fathers" that " although they were not named Christian men, yet it was a Christian faith that they had ; for they looked for all benefits of God the Father through the merits of His Son Jesus Christ, as we now do. This difference is between them and us; for they looked when Christ should come, and we be in the time when He is
Therefore saith S. Augustine, The time is altered and changed, but not the faith. For we have both one faith in one Christ.'”2
It is impossible that this can have been intended to suggest that all the “old fathers” had a clear knowledge of the “merits of Jesus Christ.” Such an assertion would be quite unwarrantable. But it is a simple fact of history that, under the Old Covenant, there did in time grow up a very clear and definite expectation of a Messiah to come. In early days, no doubt, the hope
is. Matt. xix. 8.
2 The Homilies, p. 39 (Ed. S.P.C.K.). The reference to Augustine is to In Joan. Tract. xlv.
was but of an indefinite character, and there was little, if any, expectation of a personal deliverer.
But as we follow out the course of the history we are able to see how the hope was gradually narrowed down to a race, a tribe, a family, and how it tended more and more to centre in a single person. To trace out the growth of this hope, and to mark its increasing definiteness, belongs to the province of the interpreter of the Old Testament rather than to that of the commentator on the Articles. The briefest outline must suffice here.
The earliest indication of the hope is found in the Protevangelium, immediately after the fall, when the promise was made that the “ seed of the woman” should bruise the serpent's head.1 After the flood it was not obscurely hinted that the blessing should come in the line of Shem. The call of Abraham, the choice of Isaac rather than Ishmael," of Jacob rather than Esau, narrowed down the line still more; while, whatever be the true interpretation of the words rendered in the English Bible ‘till Shiloh come,' the exalted language used in the blessing of Judah, at the very least marks out this tribe for pre-eminence, and points to it as the one from which the promised blessings should be looked for.6
1 Gen. iii. 15. “The Protevangelium is a faithful miniature of the entire history of humanity, a struggling seed ever battling for the ultimate victory. Here is the germinal idea which unfolds in the sufferings and sorrows, the hopes and joys of our race, until it is realised in the sublime victories of redemption.”-C. A. Briggs' Mo ianic Prophecy, p. 77.
2 Gen. ix. 26, 27. All the commentators call attention to the significant fact that the name of the covenant God Jehovah occurs alone in the blessing of Shem. 3 Gen. xii. 1-3.
* Gen. xiii. 15, xv. 4, xvii. 1-21. 5 Gen. xxv. 23, cf.
xxvii. & Gen. xlix. 9–12. ' The margin of the R. V. will show the English reader how doubtful is the rendering "till Shiloh come.” There is really no support whatever for it from antiquity, and it probably rests on an
been intended to compel us to maintain that the doctrine
We are of a future life was clearly taught by Moses. expressly told in the New Testament that “life and immortality are brought to light by the gospel," 1 and the whole tendency of modern criticism is to emphasise this by denying that there are sure and certain traces of a belief in a state of future bliss till a comparatively late period in the history of the Jews. It is patent to everyone that the promises of the Mosaic law, as a rule, refer exclusively to this life (see Ex. xx. 12, xxii. 25–31; Levit. xxvi. etc.), and that length of days and temporal prosperity are the rewards contemplated in it. Moreover, it would seem that throughout the Old Testament, attention is for the most part concentrated on this life. It is “the land of the living ” (see Ps. lii. 5; Isa. liii. 8; Jer. xi. 19, etc.). Death is regarded as an evil, and the dread of it is evident even among the best of the Hebrews, so that it has been said with some show of truth that they never spoke of death without a shudder (see Ps. lxxxviii. and Isa. xxxvii. in illustration of this). Nevertheless, while all this is admitted, it must not be forgotten that there is another side to it as well.
Death is never regarded as annihilation. An existence of some sort after death is everywhere assumed in the Old Testament. Dathan and Abiram go down "alive ” into Sheol (Num. xvi. 30). Jacob's anticipation that he will go down to Sh eol to Joseph (Gen. xxxvii. 35), and the familiar expression that a man was “gathered to his fathers,” are s evidences of a belief in a “something” beyond this lifitte even in the the chosen ruler of God, and ch. sc., where the Messiah is introduced under the figure of a white bullock. Messiah of the house of David is spoken of in xvii
. 23 41 seq. and xviii, 1-9,
In the Psa), ms of Solomon, the and is for the first time definitely called Xplotos Kúpia: Ays
. 1 2 Tim. i 10.