Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

a new covenant, and for that bigher development of the divine kingdom which followed in Christ,-intimated indeed in the precepts of the law, and which was unveiled more clearly in the promises of the prophets. So far we can say that the religion of the Old and New Testaments is the same in its true substance; not only in relation to its origin, (as we trace both back to divine revelations), but in reference to its object—the Mes. siah to whom the Old Testament points—when not directly yet mediately. They differ in relation to this point, only as the Old Testament points to one who is to come ; the New, makes known one who has already appeared, (though not without reference to another period still future, 1 Cor. 11: 26. The one, indeed, contained the principal lineaments of the idea, but the actual appearance (the humanity of Christ, the Mediator) could be anticipated only by significant images, while, on the contrary, the other places him before our eyes, as he dwelt among us full of grace and truth, John 1: 14. Hence the New Testament is truly the key of the Old, and must open for us, (as Christ did once for the apostles Luke 24: 27,) the idea of its true contents. Still, however, to the enlightened mind, which knows to what object all things tend, the Old Testament will ever be able, as in the case of Timothy, 2 Tim. 3: 15, to make wise unto salvation, not by works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ.

But in as far as the Old Testament is particularly an inculcation of the law, so far we may say, its religion is in contrast to that of the New Testament. As Christians we are not under the law, but under grace, Rom. 6: 14,- yet not as if Christ did not demand what is essential in the law, Matt. 7: 12. 22: 40. Christ came not to destroy the law, but to fulól it, Matt. 5: 17; yea, the righteousness of Christians must be more perfect than that of the Pharisees, Matt. 5: 20, who observed the law in the strictest manner, Acts 26: 5. But Christianity demands a disposition which is not meant to be able to work out its own righteousness by the deeds of the law, (a fundamental mistake of the Jews, Rom. 10:3), but to receive by faith the righteousness of Christ, in like manner as Paul, Pbil. 3: 9,- and which requires that it be done with inward freedom, without the letter of the law, which the law aspired after, and which, accompanied by threatenings of Divine punishment, prescribes in external methods, what we have to do and to suffer. Where this is still wanting, there is no true Christianity; there still, the opposing lust of the flesh predominates over the spirit, and not

the spirit over the flesh, while the latter from the first gradually frees us from sin and from the law, Gal. 5: 17, 18, 22. And, indeed, for him who has not yet come to the point where the most earnest language of the law has a salutary effect, as well as the alluring voice of the gospel,* a part of the law has lost ils validity ; its destination has become merely preparatory, — partly political, which must have given to the Jewish theocracy an external support till the Author and Head of the true christian theocracy appeared, — and partly ritual, which could only preserve the need of redemption and expiation, until he came who could alone satisfy that need. In reference hereto, Christ is, with peculiar propriety, named, not only the object, but the end of the law, Rom. 10: 4. So then who among us has occasion for the law as a schoolmaster and a tutor, Gal. 4: 24. 5: 2? He does not aspire after the freedom of the children of God, who has already found it in the christian church, which ceases not to make known the righteousness and mercy of God, not merely through the preaching of the divine word, but in its very existence and through its entire manifestation.

Thus we may now easily see, how far the Old Testament can be yet for us a rule of faith and life. We here speak, not of its worth in respect to a learned acquaintance with the history of religion, or for a learned commentary on the New Testament, (its historical and hermeneutical use, although this has an important aspect, not merely for learned men, but for every Christian). We speak especially of its value for religion itself, in so far as it can always secure for us an incitement to pious feeling, as awakening those dispositions on which depend the fear of God, love, confidence, sell-knowledge, faith, obedience, and as it respects the desire to seek for information concerning God, his mercy and righteousness, bis law and promises. This is its doctrinal and moral use. Then, indeed, we ought always to recollect that the special object of the New Testament is not to make known to us the law, but the gospel, not in dark images and predictions, but in the clear light of actual fulfilment. There is present with us one who is greater than the lawgiver, or the priests, the kings and prophets of the Old Testament, Luke 10:24. 11:31, 32. Heb. i. and vii., through whom mercy and truth have come, John 1:17, from whose fulness, a living

* So the Lutheran Catechism rightly places the ten commandments before faith. Vol. XI. No. 29.

31

fountain of new life and of higher knowledge streams forth on those who believe upon him, John 7:38. It is not, simply, however, that there is a revelation of the hitherto concealed and secret mysteries of the divine counsels, Rom. 16: 25. Eph.3: 15., but also that the covering was removed away from those things, which even to the prophets themselves, who predicted the grace that was to come, was rather a point for investigation and search than a clear vision, 1 Pet. 1: 10. It is now settled not only in relation to that which is old and abolished, but also in what manner that is to be understood which contains profounder and more permanent truth. It cannot therefore be doubted that there is in the New Testament a far more perfect norm and source of christian knowledge, than in the Old. The one is an original fountain, the other a secondary one. * We would as little over-estimate the latter, on the one hand, by drawing from it alone the whole system of christian faith, † as, on the other hand, unite in undervaluing it, in which extreme we find some of the Gnostics, who went so far as to ascribe to it a wholly different design from the revelations which were made by Christ ;—consequently on the ground, that though the Old Testament had a divine origin, yet it was limited (according to the opinions of the anabaptists and some other modern sects) to things merely earthly and sensual —to the exclusion of a spiritual germ. This view is in opposition to Christ and his apostles, with whom the avoal was ever the πληρώσαι; tlie καταργήσαι was always placed in connection with the orñoui, Rom. 3:31. The effect has been to obstruct the right interpretation of the New Testament.

Of the fornier error—a one-sided, over-estimate of the Old Testament, we can by no means acquit our older theologians, either as it regards their view of the Old Testament in general, or their handling of particular passages. It was not enough to find the germ of the peculiar laws of Christianity in the Old Testament; the entire delineation must be discovered. It was not simply concluded, that we must find a general reference to Christ, but also that futurity was clearly revealed to the pious

* With this readily agrees Schleiermacher's Ansicht von der nornialen 'dignität des Altens Testainents, Darstell. des Gla. $ 150 Zusatz.

† As was attempted to be done on the broadest scale by Jolio Wigand and Matth. Judex in their Syntagma or Corpus doctrinae es V. T. tantum collectum, dispositum et concinnatum, Basil. 1564. Particular examples may be found in the older systems.

[ocr errors]

men among the Israelites. Even the reformers, who so beautifully developed the contrast between the law and the gospel, were not always sufficiently guarded on this point. To such views must they be led, who accommodate themselves to what are often arbitrary and fanciful modes of interpretation ;-where, without regard to the context, a forced interpretation is at once given to the letter ; very remote resemblances, to the prejudice of the natural meaning of the word, are valued, and the truth which lies at the ground of the typical and prophetic meaning, is so disfigured, that the principle must always occasion mistakes in the application. When now, on the other hand, a contradiction is assumed, partly by entire sects, e. g. the Arminians and Socinians, and partly by particular individuals of our church, e. g. Calixtus; when these contradictions are drawn out into particulars, because individual doctrines, e. g. that of the trinity, cannot be found explicitly announced in the Old Testament ; even when the belief of the pious men in the Old Testament is declared to be only a belief indirectly in Christ ;—we cannot indeed, approve of every thing which lies at the foundation of such expressions as the foregoing, or which is introduced in connection with them,-yet neither can we entirely throw them aside, as the older theologians did. We cannot truly charge those who advance them with intentional unfairness, while they employ the historical mode of interpretation in opposition to a pseudo-dogmatic-while they follow out the principle, that, in connection with the application of generally received hermeneutical rules, one must seek to investigate what the writers themselves intended, as they were understood by their contemporaries, without daring to introduce any later views or notions. We censure such modes of interpretation only as would destroy the most undeniable connection between the Old and New Testaments, which recognizes in the former nothing of a higher character, and which willingly allows the most violent mode of proceeding, ere it will concede any references to Christ, while it maintains that the New Testament is so essentially different from the Old.

The error of the older theologians, we would avoid, inasmuch as we do not directly maintain that the religion of the Old Testament is identical with that of the New, or that its writings, like those of the New, treat altogether of Christ; but this identity appears only so far as it (the Old Testament) is the norm and the source of religious truth for us,

We thus throw no obstacle in the way of the bistorical interpretation, but merely place it, (without determining at the outset its extent,) on the principles of the New Testament, — the christian interpretation ; - in the position which we are fully ready to justify. Here, especially, we must not consider merely what circumstances are in favor of a particular position, brit how they bear upon and stand related to another -- the ielenlogical method of considering the subject. Now, as little as the naturalist allows himself to be satisfied, when he regards plants and animals merely from that point of view in which they promote the convenience or luxury of men, so little will a sound understanding allow itself to be persuaded, that a final end is only an accidental result of a process, without any intention being aimed at by the Author of nature. The natural philosopher knows well, that the higher formations in the series of organized development are from the lower, so that the one casts light on the other, and that it is certain, that the right means have not been employed for understanding the natural history of an organ, when it has been considered separate from its earlier condition, and no investigation has been had into its previous state. Even so no reflecting man will object, when we assert that the fundamental ideas and objections which are found in the dogmas and contests of philosophers (e. g. one may remember the controversy respecting innate ideas) are the same which occupy ourselves, although we are considerably advanced in the knowledge of their meaning, and in the modes of expressing them. Why then in the writings of divinely inspired lawgivers and prophets, should u’e dare to see only what the lexicons and grammars spell out from words ? Long and rightfully has the important idea been inculcated, that the books of the Bible are to be read as we read other writings. Must we on that account wholly forget, that they are divine writings?

Finally, the inquiry concerning the Connection between the Old and New Testaments, (which has been bandled, to a wide extent, and in many controversies, the true grounds of which by no means lie where the words employed would seem to imply,) has been so developed, that we must here satisfy ourselves, 10 have indicated the principal point, in the critical examination of the Old Testament Scriptures in their relation to the christian church. We cannot here introduce the marked difference, asserted by Paul, Gal. 3: 15 seq., between the Abrahamic covenant and that of Moses, and their relations with each other and

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »