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this would be a startling and not very welcome announcement to those who were looking for the appearance of Elijah himself from heaven, He first says it was for those who could take it in, and then calls the attention of all who had ears to hear it to what He had said.

But why, it may be asked, did our Lord not pronounce so high an encomium on the Baptist in the hearing of his messengers? Would it not have been music in the ears and balm to the troubled spirit of the lonely prisoner? Yes, assuredly it would. And well did the Master know what a “song in the night” it would have been to His servant to get such a return as that to his question, and that to let his messengers go with nothing of the kind was fitted to shake the strongest faith. But all the more “ blessed ” would he be, if even without a ray of light as to his future his faith should remain unshaken, finding none occasion of stumbling in Him. The faith of the Master Himself had been tried, and would be throughout His whole work on earth. His glory had been hid from “ the wise and prudent,” the men of light and leading, and revealed only to the “ babes," the humble, unlearned, common people, and He had to fall back upon the Divine sovereignty: Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Thy sight." It is enough that the disciple be as his master, and the servant as his lord. Struggles, we may suppose, he would have-severe and protracted—with temptations to doubt, but with the shield of faith he would guard all the fiery darts of the wicked one. Canst thou lie imprisoned and uncheered month after month? Wilt thou be faithful, even unto death? And his spirit answered—Yes. To the upright there ariseth light in the darkness, and He giveth songs in the night. Perhaps he was singing one of those songs in the night when the executioner entered to bring his head to the wretch who demanded it !

What followed ? When his disciples heard of it, they came and took up his corpse, and laid it in a tomb” (Mark vi. 29), and “they went and told Jesus” (Matt. xiv. 12)—probably as a body. Did they tell this mournful news in a complaining mood? I cannot believe it. But how did our Lord receive the news? We can only guess, for not a word did He utter, else we may well suppose it would be recorded. But He who shed tears over the grave of Lazarus, though He was about to raise him to life again, could not fail to be deeply moved.

In closing this sketch, several reflections naturally occur, but we have space only for two.

1. If the object of the Evangelists had been to glorify their Master, we may be certain they would not have represented His treatment of John from the time of his entrance into the court of Herod to the time of his death as they have done. And if, as we are now told, these Gospels are merely the best traditions of the life of Jesus which could be collected in the second century, when the Gospels are said to have been composed, no such consistency in the accounts which they give of the very unexpected treatment of John by his Master would be observed in their narratives. In one way only is this to be explained--that they have recorded the naked facts of the case just as they occurred.

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2. A great principle, I think, is involved in the fact, that “the law and the prophets were until John,” and “from that time the kingdom of heaven suffered violence, and men of violence take it by force," or (as in Luke xvi. 16), “from that time the Gospel of the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth (or entereth violently) into it."

Observe the principle here. “ The law and the prophets were until John." During that long period God followed one continuous line of procedure in His dealings with men. But then came a great changeFrom that time the Gospel of the kingdom of God is preached.” From that time God has begun a quite other and new way of dealing with men. And what has been the effect? The whole country is stirred. It is not the novelty but the nature of the change that has done this. This is not the place to dilate upon the contrast between the old and the new. But the more personal and spiritual character of the new economy may be noted. John preached ; his cry was, Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." He preached the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. “And there went out to him Jerusalem and all Judæa, and all the region round about Jordan, and they were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins." The multitudes that flocked to him were of all classes-Pharisees and Sadducees, publicans, harlots, and soldiers. Not even the new truths which were preached can account for this. It was an awakening of conscience and desire to be saved on a scale hitherto unknown. John's own interpretation of what it meant is the best. “When he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said unto them, Ye offspring of vipers (both equally but in opposite ways poisoning the religious principles of the nation), who warned you to flee from the wrath to come ?What can have brought you here on such an errand ? If it meant that, as to him the action itself certainly did—what explanation does such an upheaval of the whole country of the most opposite classes admit of but one ?—a mighty impulse from above, shaking the dry bones of the Jewish Church, and breathing upon the slain that they might live. And that multitudes of them did live our Lord Himself testified when He said that “every man is pressing into the kingdom," or rushing to get in-expressing the strength of impulse that was felt. We have thus a negative expression of the fruit of John's ministry—it was a flight from the wrath to come; and a positive expression of it—it was a rush into the kingdom.

Now, it is true that all this upheaval took place in connection with the introduction of a new economy and an organic change in the administration of the Church of God. But the principle involved is a wide one. different ages of the Church God has permitted His people to get into the kingdom in very different ways—some of them of so doubtful a character that one wonders how they could find their way in at all. This state of things is permitted, too, for long, weary years, until vital religion seems dead. But a Luther, a Calvin, a Knox, a Cranmer, a Wesley, a Whitefield, a Simeon, and sometimes one from the ranks, with no commission but that

In

NO. II. VOL. I.-THE THINKER.

I

which approves itself to be of God, appears, and the breath of a new life follows their movements, and multitudes feel it. And it will be the wisdom of Christians to welcome such revivals. Everything may not be as we might wish it to be, but the life of it is to be cherished, and advantage taken of it. Such as do so will be quickened and blessed; while those who hold back because of this and that “irregularity," will miss the blessings. The Spirit of God, whose presence in the Church is the breath of its life, will have His own way of working. “ The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, nor whither it goeth : so is every one that is born of the Spirit.”

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" ASAPHOR ISAIAH?

By Rev. A. LUKYN WILLIAMS, M.A. All these things spake Jesus in parables unto the multitudes ; and without a parable spake He nothing unto them; that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, I will open my mouth in parables ; I will utter things hidden from the foundation of the world.MATT, xiii. 34, 35. The Revised Version has here lost an excellent opportunity of recording in its margin a reading which has some little authority in its favour, and which, if genuine, gives rise to some important considerations. As the passage runs in the above translation, there is no further identification of “the prophet than what may be derived from the quotation attributed to him. The original passage is found in one of the Psalms (lxxviii. 2), which claims according to a natural interpretation of its title to be composed by Asaph. Further, by way of illustrating the title “prophet" as applied to one who is generally regarded rather as a choirmaster than even a composer of hymns, reference is commonly made to the term “ Asaph the seer" in 2 Chron. xxix. 30.

But Isaiah the prophet” is read by the Sinaitic manuscript, a few cursives, the Rushworth Latin Gospels, a manuscript of the Ethiopic version, the Clementine Homilies, and Porphyry as quoted by Jerome. Some remarks, too, in Eusebius point in the same direction. It is, therefore, not surprising that the reading is admitted into the margin of what may now be called the standard edition of the Greek text (Westcott and Hort's), and that one of these scholars appears to be clearly of the opinion that it is the true reading. Dr. Hort writes (Appendix, p. 13), “It is difficult not to think ’Hoalov genuine. There was a strong temptation to omit it (cf. xxvii. 9; Mc. i. 2); and, though its insertion might be accounted for by an impulse to supply the name of the best known prophet, the evidence of the actual operation of such an impulse is much more trifling than might have been anticipated..

The erroneous introduction of Isaiah's name is limited to two passages, and in each case to a single Latin MS."

But if “ Isaiah be genuine here, how are we to account for its presence ? The quotation which it introduces is not written by the evangelical prophet, but by a comparatively unknown person; how could the evangelist have prefixed Isaiah's name to it?

The famous parallel case in Matt. xxvii. 9 will at once suggest itself. There the evangelist quotes a passage from the book of Zechariah, but attributes it to Jeremiah: “Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying, And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was priced, whom certain of the children of Israel did price; and they gave them for the potter's field, as the Lord appointed me.” How is it that there comes once in St. Matthew, and now, apparently, a second time, an error so paipable and gross? Can it be due to a mere slip of memory? Were the evangelist an Englishman, this might be the true solution; but, surely, when he shows himself to have been a Jew, and a Jew thoroughly conversant with Hebrew customs and modes of thought, such an answer to the difficulty is only a cry of despair.

May I venture to suggest another? It is this: that just as there were, with but little doubt, summaries of legal maxims current in our Lord's time which He did not scruple to use (Matt. v. 21, 33, 43), so, rather later, there were current in Hebrew-Christian circles well-known sets of quotations from the Old Testament which were not expressly divided one from another (Rom. iii. 10-18), and which were referred to under the name of the author of the best-known passage. In this way we may suppose that Zechariah's mention of the potter (Zech. xi. 13) was placed in connection with Jeremiah's visit to the potter, and with his warning of the possible rejection of Israel by God (Jer. xviii. 1-6; cf. xix. 1, 11), and was so subordinated to it that the words of Zechariah could be actually quoted under the name of Jeremiah (Matt. xxvii. 9). Something of the same kind, then, may have happened in the case of the passage under consideration. The Psalmist's call to Israel to hear the lessons derived from their ancestors' behaviour (Ps. lxxviii. 2, or perhaps 1-3) was connected with the warning given to Israel by Isaiah (vi. 9, 10) of punishment for their blindness and deafness, and was so subordinated to the latter as for purposes of quotation to be considered one with it (cf. our present verses with ver. 14 of this chapter). It is interesting to notice that one indubitable example of such connexion and subordination occurs in Mark i. 2, 3, where the promise in Malachi (iii. 1) that God would send His messenger before Messiah's face is closely joined to the promise of the Voice in the wilderness found in Isaiah xl. 3, and the two passages are quoted under the name of Isaiah alone. Observe that if St. Mark had used his source (ex hypothesi) as far as the end of the quotation from Malachi, and then for some reason omitted the next quotation, he might very easily have still retained the name of " Isaiah,” with which he introduces his double quotation. Had he done so, we should have had another parallel to our present verses and chap. xxvii. 9, and we should have had critics wondering at another extraordinary slip of memory on the part of an evangelist. The real reason, however, would be not a slip of memory, but the fact that the evangelist did not care to continue the combined quotation which he had begun.

STUDIES IN THE MINOR PROPHETS.

By Rev. J. T. L. Maggs, B.A.

HOSEA, -CHAPTERS i.-iii. Hosea is a master in the art of condensation. Commentator after commentator has quoted Jerome's verdict upon the prophet's style, and sought to put anew the matter in his own words. Hosea is a writer whose language is so terse, forming the unclothed skeleton of his thought, that it requires the reader to ponder and to expand his words. The expressions he uses are scattered upon the page as seeds endowed with vital power, ready to germinate before the eye of the attentive student in fact, and figure, and circumstance. If in many writers we must read between the lines in order to enter fully into their meaning, we need in Hosea to read between the words. Ever and again he uses some expression which outlines for us the political, social, or religious life of his time. Hosea would have been more easily understood had the book bearing his name been distinctly divided into two parts. Twofold the book certainly is. The section ending with chap. iii. is in many respects different to that embracing the latter chapters. It was almost certainly written before the fall of Jehu's dynasty, and during the magnificent prosperity which the northern kingdom enjoyed under Jereboam II. The second part points to the stormy days, full of political and social disorder, which preceded and preluded the siege and capture of Samaria and the destruction of the Ephraimite sovereignty. This latter part is full of half-concealed incident, is rich in descriptions of social customs, of the morals of courts and temples, of political cunning and commercial custom; it is the wreck of a finished mosaic of prophetic utterance, the separate tessaræ of which to the student are suggestive of the life of that bygone day. But, on the other hand, the former book, if it is a more finished and complete work, is sorrowful in its spirit; it is the picture of a man pained in his deepest heart, and is sombre of hue. It is comparatively void of these touches which express the social condition of the kingdom; the few which exist only telling the story of prosperity ungratefully received and wickedly abused. Unlike the latter chapters which tell of the national life, the former book is intensely personal; it is a fragment, brief and mysterious, of an autobiography, told not for its own sake, but as an illustration of a nation's life, as the type of a divine sorrow. Yet, while thus the story of the man becomes the setting of the history of the people, the personal element overpowers the merely artistic and descriptive. The first book tells the story of the sorrow that weighed down his early manly strength; in the latter, silent as to these things, because a hopeless sorrow denies the relief of utterance, he is the more free to set out the life of the people whose sins were typified in his own dark experience.

For the story of the prophet's life, as here told, reveals a deep and terrible anguish of soul. However much expositors may have varied as to

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