Skip to main content

Full text of "The Bible, a missionary book"

See other formats

•:i 'illlMiMIH 








BS 511 .H6 1908 

Horton, Robert F. 1855-1934. 

The Bible, a missionary book 


THE BIBLE ^-^/c^t 



M.A., D.D. 


BMnburab anD ILon^on 


^be ipilgrim press 

New York BOSTON Chicago 






PREFACE ...... 5 









OF ISRAEL . . . . .103 










SUMMARY . . . . . 179 

INDEX . . . . . .191 


For the sake of any reader whose in- 
terest in missions may be greater than 
his interest in biblical scholarship, it 
may be well to define beforehand the 
attitude which is assumed in these 
pages, towards critical questions and 
methods of biblical interpretation. 
That attitude is not personal to the 
writer, but is that of the large majority 
of scholars and exegetes who have in 
recent years contributed most to the 
understanding of the Bible. 

Dr Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible 
represents the conclusions up to the 
present moment of the vast weight 
of British scholarship. The mingled 
candour and reverence which are the 
peculiar note of our English theology, 
here find their completest expression. 
I may be pardoned for mentioning the 



names of Prof. Driver and Prof. 
George Adam Smith in Old Testament 
work, and the name of Prof. Sanday 
in New Testament work, as the best 
known and the most typical representa- 
tives of the attitude assumed in this 
great dictionary. As the EncyclopcBdia 
Biblica, edited by Prof. Cheyne, presents 
the extremest views of present day criti- 
cism, and is an invaluable authority for 
the theories which are mooted and dis- 
cussed in the progress of theological 
inquiry, so Dr Hastings' Dictionary is 
the best authority we possess for the 
cautious conclusions and tested results 
which have been achieved in the last 
quarter of a century. Needless to say, 
the changes effected in these years place 
a vast difference between the recent 
work, and the dictionaries which were 
the great authorities until now. But 
Hastings' Dictionary supersedes its pre- 
decessors as inevitably as the ninth 
edition of the Encyclopcedia Britannica 
superseded the eighth. It would be a 



dangerous obscurantism to ignore that 
great change, and it is evident that 
missionary students, whose task it is to 
present Christianity to the cultivated 
races of the East, must remember that 
educated Hindus, and Japanese, and 
Chinese, when they want to know the 
truth about the Bible, will turn, not to 
the dictionaries and authorities of thirty 
years ago, but to the latest and most 
approved works of to-day. 

I have therefore assumed, though I 
know the assumption may sometimes be 
rash, that the reader is acquainted with 
the general position occupied by the 
enlightened and believing scholarship of 
our time. If any view seems startling 
or arbitrary, I would urge the reader to 
consult the article in the Dictionary of 
the Bible on the subject referred to. 
For example, under Pentateuch or 
Deuteronomy, or the Law, he will find 
explained in detail the views which in 
this brief survey are only assumed ; 
and so with Chronicles or Jonah or 



Daniel. Let not the reader suppose 
that I am broaching a private theory, 
or in the pursuance of a whim making 
havoc of accepted traditions, but let him 
turn to the articles on these books and 
see the kind, and the weight, of the 
evidence which has produced the change 
of view among the experts of biblical 

There is no doubt a serious difficulty 
which lies in the path of spiritual pro- 
gress both at home and abroad. Biblical 
scholarship has left the piety of the 
Church a long way in the rear. Many 
of the most devout and the most 
honoured of religious leaders have 
offered the most uncompromising op- 
position to the whole method and 
spirit of modern scholarship, with the 
result that some earnest lovers of the 
Bible regard with suspicion and aversion 
the men whose labours have been giving 
the Bible a new power by bringing it 
into line with the advancing knowledge 
and the wider culture of the day. Until 



the most fervent believers will open their 
eyes to the essential piety of a candid 
and reverent scholarship, the danger 
must remain of piety and scholarship 
being antagonists instead of fellow- 
workers. And that danger can only be 
overcome when those who understand 
the two positions, attempt to bring them 
together by removing the mutual irrita- 
tions, the impatience of scholarship, and 
the suspicion of piety. 

So far as I know, this book is the 
first attempt to bring the more modern 
way of handling Scripture and the 
missionary cause together. As the 
friends of missions have been suspicious 
of critical scholarship, so scholarship has 
been too absorbed in its own pursuits 
to pay express attention to missions. 
But the two must learn to understand 
one another, if the missionary cause is 
to make rapid and solid progress ; and 
however slight a step this book may be 
towards a mutual understanding, it will 
at least serve to show that missionary 



interest and zeal need not be destroyed 
by the changes which are taking place 
in the Church's view of the Bible. 

For my own part, if I felt that any 
critical methods of interpreting Scripture 
disturbed the faith in its missionary 
message, or cooled my zeal to impart 
that message to the world, I should feel 
thatthose methods stood self-condemned; 
for of what use is the Bible, if it is not 
God's book for man, and of what mean- 
ing is the Gospel if it is not God's 
message to the world ? A method 
which robbed me of the missionary 
character of the Bible, would rob me 
of Christianity itself. If Christianity is 
not the religious truth which is meant 
for all men, and which all men need, 
a truth therefore which carries in itself 
the duty of propagating it, I do not 
want Christianity at all. A religion 
adapted only for the British, or for 
Americans, or for Europeans, or for the 
Aryan race, is not a religion worth any 
man's professing. If therefore the 



critical treatment of the Bible reduced 
Christianity to a religion of this kind 
and destroyed the universality of its 
claim, I should share with all friends 
of missions the suspicion and condemna- 
tion of the method. But, as the follow- 
ing pages show, the effect of using the 
accepted canons of scholarly criticism 
is exactly the reverse ; the Bible, as 
understood by science and criticism, 
always granting that the spirit of faith 
and obedience is there, is much more of 
a missionary book than ever before. 
But it may be said, the expression 
''always granted the spirit of faith and 
obedience is there," is a very important 
proviso, and to admit science and criti- 
cism into Scripture will exclude that 
spirit. To such a counsel of timidity 
the answer must be given from Scripture, 
and from experience, '* Where the Spirit 
of the Lord is, there is liberty " : Christ 
reveals Himself in the hearts of some 
who have very imperfect knowledge of 
the Scriptures, and that self-revelation 



of Christ co-exists with the utmost 
diversities of biblical interpretation. 
The faith in Christ is so direct and 
immediate an experience, and is pro- 
duced by the Holy Spirit in such a 
way, that it may be regarded as the 
ultimate authority which sits in judg- 
ment, not only on the Church, but also 
on the Bible. Without that faith in 
Christ the faith in Scripture avails 
little; as Christ Himself says, '*ye 
search the Scriptures, for in them ye 
think ye have eternal life . . . but ye will 
not come to Me." On the other hand, 
the faith in Christ becomes the key 
to the Scriptures, and is the security 
that criticism cannot deprive us of them. 
Or if I may put it in a single sentence, 
the Bible, however it is regarded, is 
enough to bring the soul to Christ, and 
the soul that has come to Christ, has 
within itself the means of understanding 
the Bible. 

With this brief explanation I trust 
that missionary students will be able 



to read the present little work without 
prejudice, as I firmly believe that biblical 
scholars imbued with the modern spirit, 
will find in it clear demonstration of 
the missionary character of the Bible. 

Will the reader, before beginning the 
first chapter, humbly and devoutly pray 
for the illumination of the Holy Spirit, 
as the writer has written, constantly 
offering the same prayer. If the argu- 
ment be not what *'the Spirit saith to 
the Churches," let it fall to the ground ; 
but if the Spirit is in these words calling 
Christians of all persuasions and of all 
opinions to a united and untiring effort 
to carry the good news of Christ to 
the limits of the habitable globe, the 
Spirit must work in the reader, as well 
as in the writer, to render the words 



The argument for the Missionary enter- 
prise is threefold, from the Word, from 
the World, and from the Work. While 
this little book only attempts to deal 
with the first, it may be well to show in 
a sentence or two the argument as a 

We are pledged to Missionary zeal 
and ceaseless activity — 

First, because the Bible is a Mission- 
ary Book ; 
Secondly, because the study of the 
World, as it is, reveals the fact 
that the Gospel of our Lord 
Jesus Christ is precisely what 
it needs ; 
Thirdly, because the success of the 
work, so far as it has gone, 
is surprising, and shows clearly 



that if the Church were united, 
and set upon discharging the 
obligation, it would be quite 
possible, within one generation, 
to cover the earth with the 
knowledge of the Lord. 
The reason for issuing this little book 
in a simpler and cheaper form is, not 
only that it has been useful in its first 
edition, but that it still remains, so far 
as the writer knows, the only book 
which shows specifically the Missionary 
character of the Bible as a whole. It 
might easily be superseded by some- 
thing better, if a scholar, full of Mission- 
ary zeal, would turn his attention to the 
subject. But until it is superseded, it 
is needed — sorely needed. 

I have found the argument of this 
book novel, and even surprising, to 
people who are reverent students of the 
Bible, and at the same time strong 
missionary advocates ; that is to say, 
they are not awake to the first and 
surest charter of the Church's mission. 



When I was requested, four years 
ago, by some dear and honoured friends 
whose whole interest lies in Missionary 
Study, to write such a book, on the 
ground that there was not in existence 
anything of the kind, I was incredulous. 
I supposed that, though I had not seen 
them, there must be innumerable at- 
tempts to show how the Bible itself 
commits us to Missionary effort. But 
I have found that my friends were right. 
And I am glad that I listened to their 
appeal and did my best (though I was 
laid aside at the time, and unable to use 
my eyes) to supply the need. Since then 
I find that excellent books are appearing 
which show in detail the missionary 
bearing of certain parts of the Bible, 
e.g. the Psalter ; but if a teacher wishes 
to put into the hands of a Class a text- 
book for the study of the Bible as a 
whole from this special viewpoint, mine 
is still the only available book. 

Great is the argument from the Work. 
One who keeps his eye on the vanguard 


of Christ advancing through the world 
is kindled into daily enthusiasm by the 
proof that this Gospel is the power of 
God unto salvation to every one that 
believeth. No day passes, but the 
banners are pushed forward, some out- 
post of evil is undermined, some nation 
or tribe approaches the place of the 
breaking forth of children, and takes a 
glimmer of the dawn. Slowly it may 
be, but with a majestic certainty, our 
Lord is taking possession of the earth ; 
the embattled powers of darkness yield. 
Great is the argument from the 
World. Where He is not known the 
peoples perish. In their callous cruelty 
to one another, in the withering de- 
lusions of superstition and ignorance, in 
the dull, hopeless outlook, when old 
religions decay and no new faith is born, 
the nations of the earth make a dumb, 
unconscious appeal, to the messengers 
of the Cross. How they need the glad 
tidings of hope, the demonstration of 
love, the working of power ! 



** Far and wide, though all unknowing, 
Pants for Thee each human breast ; 
Human tears for Thee are flowing, 
Human hearts in Thee would rest." 

Great is the argument from the Work, 
great is the argument from the World, 
but greatest of all is the argument from 
the Word. That in the last resort is 
the authority which compels us to 
advance, when the success of the Work 
is not apparent, or when the distress 
of the Christless world seems hardly 
greater than the distress in this 
Christian part of the world where we 
live. The Word is our lawbook, our 
guide, the charter of our own salvation, 
the comfort and joy of our lives, ** in 
it we meditate day and night." And 
this Word is Missionary ; it compels us 
to undertake the task of imparting it to 
all mankind. We make a discovery : 
its Law does not help us if we violate 
the precept of its transmission ; its 
light fails to guide us if we neglect this 
primary duty ; our salvation loses its 



surety unless it leads to our seeking to 
save the world ; its consolations fade 
away, when we decline to carry them to 
our needy brothers. 

This is the supreme argument. May 
the blessed Spirit use this little book to 
carry it home to the reader's conscience ! 


Hampstead, 2oth Oct. 1908. 




I WAS startled, in conversing with some 
friends who have a unique acquaintance 
with missionary Hterature, to hear that 
there is no book which gives a compre- 
hensive view of the Bible as a call to 
missionary work. This, at the first 
blush, would have seemed a task re- 
peatedly attempted. But I was not able 
to supplement the knowledge of my 
friends by mentioning any book which 
had accomplished it ; and, on reflection, 
I began to realise that such a book could 
hardly have been written till very recent 
times, because it is only by the labour 
of modern scholarship, and in the light 
of the very modern science of com- 
parative religion, that anyone can form 
a just notion of the intrinsic missionary 



quality of the Bible. I realised, too, this 
singular anomaly, that while the most 
original workers in biblical scholarship 
are blind to the missionary question, the 
most ardent promoters of the missionary 
cause are suspicious of biblical science ; 
and that while the students of compara- 
tive religion are chiefly engaged in show- 
ing the common elements of all religions, 
they who are forward in missionary zeal 
are so confident of the supremacy of 
Christianity that they do not give due 
consideration to the light which com- 
parative religion casts on Christianity. 
The book then that is needed has not 
yet been written, and some years may 
pass before it can be written, but mean- 
while some tentative suggestions may 
be made in order to turn the atten- 
tion of missionary students in the right 
direction, and prepare the Church for a 
new discovery of the treasure which she 
possesses in the Word, and of the work 
which she is to do in the world. At pre- 
sent few devout souls seem to apprehend 



how startllnglytheviewof the Bible which 
modern scholarship is giving us, illustrates 
the old seventeenth-century maxim that 
'* the Lord hath yet more light and truth 
to break forth from His Word." We 
have to recognise that the recasting of 
the literature and the historical perspec- 
tive that criticism has effected, bring 
out the missionary character of the Bible 
in a way which was largely obscured by 
traditional views. And it is hard to 
conceive how the Bible is to accomplish 
its missionary work in the world until the 
Church and the missionary are able to 
bring into clear relief its intrinsic mis- 
sionary purpose. 

At present, I am told, when a mis- 
sionary address is to be given on the 
practical work in the field, on the sta- 
tistics and the methods of particular 
missions, or on the lives of the mis- 
sionaries, the speaker is easily able to 
gather ample material and to utter words 
which live and burn ; but when the same 
speaker attempts what may seem to be 



the much easier task of commending the 
missionary enterprise by the appeal to 
Scripture as the acknowledged authority, 
his speech becomes the mere quotation 
of certain familiar texts, and as it is 
trite, ceases to be convincing. 

The reason for this curious fact is 
partly to be found in the customary mode 
of reading the Bible. We seldom read 
it in large stretches, a book or a group 
of books at a time. We usually know it 
only in chapters, or even in verses. The 
wide sweep of its thought and the de- 
velopment of its purpose traced through 
age after age and transition after transi- 
tion, are either left out of account alto- 
gether or are considered only by devout 
students whose critical and historical 
methods invest their conclusions with an 
antiquated and paradoxical air. 

To support the missionary enterprise 
by the quotation of certain proof-texts 
is quite inadequate. When we are 
fumbling among these texts we are in the 
position of one who cannot see the wood 



for the trees. The texts appear to be 
unrelated axioms, and if a suspicion is 
cast upon the correctness or the genuine- 
ness of a text, the authority for missions 
seems to melt away. Thus it is well 
known that the great commission at the 
end of St Matthew's Gospel, '' Go ye 
into all the world," etc., has been 
questioned, because it does not occur in 
the three other gospels, and is not 
referred to elsewhere in the New Testa- 
ment ; and, as Warneck pointedly ob- 
serves, we have the curious spectacle of 
scholars disputing the authenticity of 
the command at the very period when 
the Church is waking up to give it a 
vigorous effect. It is to be feared that 
some people's mode of conceiving 
Scripture is so mechanical and un- 
spiritual, that to lose that single text 
would mean to them a blow to the 
authority of missions. But this is just 
as if a wanderer from some remote 
island were to find a vehicle upon a 
continental road, and were to argue for 



its Intended use entirely from an exam- 
ination of the wheels. Confining his 
attention to this one point, he would find 
his argument paralysed by the sugges- 
tion that the vehicle might be suspended 
in the air, and the rotation of the wheels 
might be used for moving, not it, but 
something else. His scepticism could 
only be removed, and his argument 
could only be established, when he took 
a more comprehensive view of the 
whole machine : when he observed 
that there were springs to make the 
carriage easy on its axles, seats to 
accommodate passengers, shafts for the 
horse, and a box for the driver. Then 
from the whole construction arguing 
that this was a vehicle, he would prove 
that the wheels were meant to move it, 
and would from the wheels gain conclu- 
sive evidence of its vehicular nature. 
Now, the proof- texts which are quoted 
in support of missions are only the 
wheels on which the Christian revela- 
tion moves. To confine our attention 



to them is to render the argument in- 
effective, and to leave it open to criticism 
and even to refutation. The whole 
message of the Bible is the vehicle ; 
its body and structure, when compre- 
hensively viewed, are so unmistakable 
that the proof-texts are corollaries from 
it, and though it may seem to rest on 
them, the juster view is that they are 
derived from it. We do not show that 
it is a vehicle intended to travel because 
it has wheels, but we point out that it 
has wheels because it is clearly, from 
top to bottom, and from end to end, 
a vehicle intended to travel. Thus, for 
example, if the famous text were not 
at the end of the first gospel, we should 
have to put it there ; it is the plain and 
inevitable deduction from the gospel 
itself. We are thankful indeed that it 
is written in the first gospel and in the 
oldest MSS., that it is as authentic as any 
writing on paper or parchment can be, 
and that criticism can no more remove 
it from us than it can pluck the sun out 



of the heavens or silence the soft 
whisper of the summer leaves ; but if 
it were not there we should still know 
from the study of the New Testament 
that the Gospel was bound to be carried 
to every nation and to every human 
soul, that the baptism in the name of 
Jesus was to involve the teaching of all 
His commandments, and that His in- 
visible help and irresistible power were 
guaranteed to His followers and to His 
witnesses every day until the work 
should be accomplished. 

The first thought, then, is not to enter 
into a minute examination of certain 
texts or passages, which may easily be 
collected from all parts of Scripture, but 
rather to stand off a little and endeavour 
to gain a conception of Scripture as a 
whole, to ask ourselves the question, 
What is the bearing and the trend of 
this book ? Before we enter the wood 
and examine its several kinds of trees, 
and acquaint ourselves with its shy or 
tuneful inhabitants, let us try to see how 



it lies along the valley, how it climbs 
the hillside, and how it surmounts the 
ridge. Before we loiter on the high- 
road, pluck the flowers by the way, or 
lift a stone to guess through what 
formation we are travelling, or even 
bivouac for a rest, let us take a map 
and see whither the road is going, how 
it holds its sinuous way over hill and 
dale, across the streams and through the 
hamlets, and finally reaches the city of 
God. For, undoubtedly, no one can 
miss the missionary teaching of the 
Bible who knows what the Bible is, and 
while many ignore or try to ignore the 
Bible altogether, there are some who 
never come to the knowledge of it or 
receive the full impact of its teaching 
because, being too much tangled in its 
details, they have come to regard it as 
a somewhat confused jumble of oracular 
texts, from which the theologian selects 
what he requires to construct his dog- 
matic system, and the moralist quotes 
what he likes to support his ethical 



teaching. The purpose of the following 
pages may therefore be thus described : 
we desire to see the Bible in its natural 
light, to understand the relation of its 
parts, and the growth through many 
centuries of its idea ; we wish to see it 
as it is imbedded in the life of mankind, 
and as it is related to the religious con- 
ceptions and aspirations of man. In 
making such a survey we expect to 
discover and to clearly grasp the truth 
that, as the book is the authentic and 
variegated record of the way in which 
God has gradually, but surely, revealed 
Himself to the human race, so it is the 
great and unchangeable means by which 
that revelation is to cover the whole 
world, and bring all men to the full clear 
knowledge of God. 

Though through long usage we can- 
not but think of the Bible as a single 
book, it is very necessary in this con- 
nection to remember that there is a gap 
between the Old Testament and the 
New, and that the New comes in real 



order before the Old. There is a Bible 
published in recent years which prints 
the New Testament first, and adds the 
Old as a long appendix, which is valuable 
for casting light upon the main theme 
of the book. And this is the order 
which must be adopted, not only in every 
attempt to appreciate the missionary 
character of the Bible, but also in pre- 
senting the Bible to the world as a 
missionary book. We can hardly expect 
people emerging from heathendom to 
make much of the Bible as we print it. 
Christ sent the apostles, not with the 
old law nor even with the old prophets, 
but with a glad new message to reach 
and to save mankind. He did not put 
in the forefront of His gospel the 
creation story, nor even the story of 
Adam and the Fall, to which he never 
alludes. And it will be a dead weight 
on the progress of the Gospel among 
Hindus, Chinese, and Japanese, who 
are beginning to receive the results of 
Western science, if we attempt to win 



them to Christ by presenting to them 
first the Book of Genesis. It is true 
that passages of the Old Testament 
have sometimes appealed to souls in 
heathen darkness, and been the intro- 
duction to gospel light ; Joseph Neesima, 
for example, the most remarkable 
Christian that Japan has at present 
produced, was first arrested by the 
opening words of Genesis. Brought up 
in the Japanese view of the origin of 
things, which is essentially the same as 
Herbert Spencer s cheerless philosophy, 
Neesima felt that a new hope had dawned 
upon him with the bare thought that 
there is a personal intelligence as the 
origin or Author of the world : though 
it was only the subsequent study of St 
Johns Gospel during his voyage to 
America that led to his conversion. 
And long before, when Europe itself lay 
in heathendom, we are told how the 
cultivated lawyer Cyprianus was con- 
verted by hearing a sermon on Jonah, 
though probably a sermon on Jonah 



spoke more of Christ than of the 
prophet. But Mr Chatterjee, speaking 
as a converted Brahmin to EngHsh 
audiences, has described to us his con- 
fusion of mind when, in his search for 
truth, he was first directed to the Bible : 
he read the stories of the Book of 
Genesis and thought them not unlike 
his Hindu mythology. Mistaking the 
patriarchs for gods or avatars, he did 
not perceive the superiority of these 
narratives to much that he had learnt 
from the Vedas ; and at that time he 
turned aside from the Scriptures with a 
feeling that they contained nothing for 

Although, then, the New Testament 
is vitally connected with the Old, as we 
shall presently see, we must begin with 
the New Testament and study it in- 
dependently and without prejudice, if 
we are ever to understand how the 
Bible is a missionary book, or to com- 
mend its missionary message to the 
world. The Old Testament is only 
C 33 


missionary in the sense, that it issues 
in the New ; it is the Hterature of a 
people which was, and is, racially and 
religiously, the most persistently ex- 
clusive people that the world has ever 
seen. The Old Testament in itself ^J'^ 
has never had a missionary message ^ 
to the world. The Jews, so far from 
wishing to disseminate it, have jealously 
claimed it as their peculiar possession ; 
they have proudly denounced the people 
who knew not their law as accursed, 
but they have never, except for a brief 
period just before the dawn of Chris- 
tianity, attempted to remove the curse 
from the Gentiles, by preaching to them 
the law. Is there anything at the pre- 
sent moment more inconceivable than 
that the wealthy and pious Jews of 
England should organise a mission to 
give the Old Testament to the Chinese, 
and to bring in to the Covenant of the 
Lord, according to the prophecy of 
Isaiah, those from the land of Sinim ? 
The Old Testament is only a mission- 



ary book in the sense that it represents 
a race, a religious institution, and a 
great expectation, as the necessary 
preparation for the event which con- 
stitutes a missionary message to man- 
kind. Painful as it sounds to Jewish 
ears, it is yet historically true that the 
Old Testament has no significance for 
the human race, except in so far as it 
has issued in the New. Take away 
the New Testament, suppose that 
Christ had not come, and Judaism 
would be a caput mortuum^ the Old 
Testament a literary curiosity. A coral 
atoll in the Pacific rises to the surface, 
and supports the dwellings of men on 
vast submerged formations, built up 
by the labours of the coral insects. 
Those hidden foundations have their 
value, but they are no dwelling-place 
for man ; if he were to attempt to 
dwell in them he would be drowned. 
Now, the New Testament is like that 
fruitful island clothed with the palms 
and girt with the protective reefs which 



rests upon the deep substructures of 
the Jewish race, the Jewish reHgion, 
and the Jewish hope ; man does not 
and cannot dwell in those substructures, 
but on that beautiful and protected 
island he dwells securely surrounded 
by the stormy seas. Our first business 
then is to gain a clear and independent 
view of the New Testament, its con- 
tents and implications, its impulses and 
movements, and the way in which it 
has worked, and must always work in 
the world. 

But when the truths, ideas, and forces 
of the New Testament are properly 
understood, it is a most valuable help 
to go back to the Old, and to realise 
how the great missionary message of 
Christianity strikes its roots deep 
into that religion which of all others 
seems at first sight to be the most 
exclusive ; for nothing so confirms the 
long design of God, as to observe a 
development conducted through many 
ages with an infallible precision to a 



predicted end. Israel existed to pro- 
duce Christ, as the bulb exists to pro- 
duce the hyacinth. We can never 
sufficiently admire the unlovely and 
scentless convolutions and the colour- 
less fibres out of which has sprung the 
bright consummate flower. Who could 
guess from an examination of the bulb 
that it contained within it the possi- 
bility of such fragrance and beauty, 
yet who can see and smell the flower 
without recognising that we owe it to 
that unproniising root ? 

Now, in the retrospective study of 
the Old Testament, if we are rightly to 
understand the missionary truths and 
impulses which found their expression 
and power of expansion in Christianity, 
we are obliged to recast the order of the 
literature, or at least to bear clearly in 
mind the mode in which it ought to be 
arranged. The Old Testament has 
many difficulties incident to its variety, 
its antiquity, and the obscurity which 
rests on ancient documents, preserved 



rather by the tenacity of tradition than 
by the light of intelHgence ; but there is 
a difficulty which might, and which may, 
be removed : the editorial work which 
fixed it in its present form before the 
Christian era may be revised and con- 
siderably improved. For nearly a century 
scholars have laboured at this editorial 
task ; and the results already achieved 
give to the literature a true perspective, 
and a vitality which it had lost under 
the cramping influence of tradition. 
And the sense in which the older religion 
was the preparation for the new, and 
contained in itself the missionary forces 
which were liberated and set at work by 
Christianity, appears to us in a new and 
a clearer light. 

For the purposes of our study, it is 
necessary to realise that in the Old 
Testament there are separate, though 
frequently intermingling streams, which 
finally converge in the Christian revela- 
tion. The four streams run side by 
side, and the arrangement of the books 



gives us but a confused impression of 
their relation to one another. The 
streams are the LaWy the History, the 
Prophets, and the Miscellaneous Works 
comprising stories, poems, and sayings 
of the wise. Each one of these covers 
the whole tract of time from the origin 
to the full development of Judaism ; each 
one of these presents a growing anticipa- 
tion of Christianity ; and each one of 
these, by blending more or less with 
the others, contributes those great ele- 
ments of w^orld-wide significance which 
only waited for Christ to come, to 
appear, as indeed they were, God's long 
predictions of His purpose to save the 

A very brief sketch will at this point 
suffice to show the lines on which study 
must proceed. The Bible of Judaism, 
at the dawn of Christianity was par 
excellence the Law \ the rest of the 
Scriptures held a secondary position, 
and were by some sects not recognised 
as Holy Scripture at all. The first point 



therefore is to realise that the Pentateuch^ 
or Law of Moses, covers the whole 
period from the beginning to the final 
development of Judaism, and Christianity- 
attaches itself to the Law as closely as 
Joshua, the Jesus of the Old Testament, 
is attached to the Pentateuch, We have, 
in a word, to get rid of the illusion 
that the rest of the Old Testament 
writings are interposed between the 
Law and Christ, and to see how literally 
the Law is a schoolmaster that brings 
us to Christ. The next point is to see 
how the History runs parallel to the 
Law. The historical stream, up to the 
time of the conquest of Canaan, runs 
actually through the Pentateuch ; but 
when our eyes are opened to see it, it is 
no less clear that the remaining part of 
the stream from Joshua to Ezra runs 
through the Pentateuch too, and the historic 
changes of the people are reflected in 
the national law. The sacred community 
or theocracy in which the History issues 
is that Judaism of the post-exile period 



which, with Hmited territory and con- 
centrated cultus, under a high priest but 
without a king, a Church rather than 
a nation, waited anxiously for a deliverer 
and for a Saviour. In the third place, 
the Prophets run parallel with the other 
streams, shaping the H istory and develop- 
ing the Law. Now as statesmen like 
Moses, or Samuel, or Isaiah, now as 
teachers like Elijah, or Amos, or Micah, 
now as priests like Jeremiah or Ezekiel, 
they were the most vital element in 
the national development ; and as they 
made Israel, under the inspiration of 
God, so they inevitably and in mani- 
fold ways, and under varied figures, 
forecast that Christ, and that Christianity, 
whose forerunner and preparation Israel, 
in all his experiences and institutions, 
was. Lastly, the Miscellaneous Writings 
belong to all periods of the national 
history, though naturally the stream 
increases in bulk the farther we come 
down. The Psalter or hymn-book of 
Israel contains poems which were at- 



tributed to Moses or to David, many 
more which belong to the period of the 
Captivity, and some even which seem to 
have sprung from the time of the 
Maccabees. This devotional literature 
is so burdened with the longings and 
forecastings of souls that are moved by 
the Spirit of God, that in many parts it 
seems to transcend the time and the 
circumstances of its composition, and to 
arrive manifestly in the new day of 
missionary expansion which was to 
begin with Christ. The stories, like 
those of Elijah or Elisha inserted in the 
history book, or like those of Daniel 
and Jonah occurring in the prophetic 
books, or those of Ruth, Esther, and 
Job standing by themselves, have very 
varied relations to the history and 
literature of Israel ; but, strange to 
say, they all, or almost all, have a 
special bearing, as we shall see, on the 
Christian revelation. And the Wisdom 
literature, as it is called, Proverbs, 
Ecclesiastes, and Job, especially if we 



may include the extra-canonical works 
of the same order, the Book of Wisdom 
and Ecclesiasticus, though little related 
to the Law, and only nominally connected 
with the History and with the Prophets, 
run in a very full volume towards Christ ; 
and thus the wisdom of the nation seemed 
to foretell Him whom the nation itself, 
in its folly, rejected. 

This concise sketch will serve suffi- 
ciently to indicate the course which we 
must take to understand the missionary 
quality of the Bible. 





It may have happened to the reader in 
a favourable moment, looking on a sunny 
landscape, to take Nature by surprise and 
to perceive what a miracle it is that the 
heavy and lifeless crust of the globe is 
mantled in verdure, threaded by bab- 
bling streamiS, shaded with woodlands, 
musical with birds, and vital with the 
myriad forms of life. In such a moment 
of surprise the veil which custom weaves 
is rent, and you see things in their right 
relation and in their astonishing signifi- 
cance ; for indeed the miracle of miracles 
is just that simple order which un- 
awakened minds take for granted, and 
to the reality of which it is the sole 
object of science in her researches, and 
of literature and art in their imaginations, 
to awaken the mind. 



Now, it must be our purpose in some 
such way as this to take the New 
Testament by surprise, and to come 
upon it with the fresh wonder which it 
would excite, if our minds had not been 
dulled by long familiarity, and if our 
hearts had not lain in the stupid lethargy 
of sin. It is the object of all biblical 
scholarship and of all devout study to 
thus rediscover the New Testament, 
see its real bearings and feel its immense 

Now, let us, uplifting our hearts to 
God for illumination, look afresh at the 
New Testament, as it deploys before 
our eyes. As we open the book, we 
see at once that it is concerned with a 
message and with a Man. At first the 
Man delivers the message, but more 
and more He becomes Himself an 
essential part of it, until when His brief 
earthly course is over, the message has 
become so identified with the Man, that 
it is the task of all who knew Him to' 
proclaim the Man as the message. 



Now, whether we examine the message 
or the Man, we are led to this one 
result, that from the first they both 
appeal to humanity as a whole, and to 
a particular people, or to chosen in- 
dividuals, only as the instruments by 
which the world-v/ide appeal can be 
made effectual. 

The message in its briefest form 
runs : ** The kingdom of God is at 
hand." Look at that phrase with fresh 
eyes, unencumbered by any explanations 
except what the New Testament con- 
tains, and you can hardly fail to catch 
its meaning. God is King, and all men 
are His subjects, so that they can find 
no happiness or worth except in com- 
plete obedience to His will ; and thus 
their prayer must daily be, that His 
rights may be acknowledged, His 
sovereignty accepted, and His purpose 
realised in every detail of the world's 
life. As Ruskin in his prophetic way 
nobly said, ''No one can offer the daily 
prayer, * Thy kingdom come,' without 
D 49 


doing more than praying." To pray that 
the kingdom may come, implies that 
we set about to realise it, first in our- 
selves, then in society, and ultimately 
in all the earth. If only our eyes were 
open, if only the deadening weight of 
custom were removed, we should see 
that we can never utter the Lord's 
Prayer without committing ourselves to 
the whole missionary enterprise, nay, 
perhaps that every paternoster offered, 
apart from the definite and constant 
desire to make known the good news of 
the kingdom to all the world, recoils on 
the lips that utter it and convicts them 
of insincerity; for who can say '* Our 
Father " without saying that all men are 
His children, and who can say *' Thy 
kingdom come" without acknowledging 
the loyal subject's obligation to bring the 
disloyal back to their allegiance ? 

Then look at the parables of the 
kingdom, and realise how unintelligible 
they would be if they were addressed 
to a section or to a nation, and not to 



the whole of mankind. The field for 
the sowing is nothing short of the world, 
the leaven works in the meal till the 
whole is leavened, and in the final scene 
all nations are gathered before the Son 
of Man. If there are parables, like that 
of the labourers in the vineyard, or the 
prodigal son, which are particularly- 
directed to the Jewish people, the object 
is only to cancel that exclusiveness and 
to show that the message is not for 
them but for the world. 

When these marks of the kingdom 
in the Synoptic Gospels have been duly 
examined, it is well to turn to the 
Fourth Gospel, where the designation 
** Kingdom of God " is but sparingly 
used, to observe how firmly the world- 
wide application of the message is re- 
tained. Here a writer is looking back 
upon the surprising entrance of the 
great Light from heaven, and how 
obvious it is to him that '' this is the 
Light that lighteth every man coming 
into the world," that this is *'the Lamb 



of God that taketh away the sin of the 
world," that '' God so loved the world 
that He gave His only-begotten Son." 
With what an inclusive phrase he is 
determined to show that " whoever re- 
ceiveth," or that '* whosoever believeth," 
shall enter into the privileges of the 
kingdom. If for the term "kingdom 
of heaven" the more inward phrase, 
" eternal life," is substituted, that is only 
because outside the theocratic circles 
and the Messianic expectations of 
Judaism, the term king had a sinister 
sound ; the empire dominated by Nero 
or Domitian, or for the matter of that, 
by Trajan or Marcus Aurelius, was not 
world-wide enough or spiritual enough 
to serve as an image, and the phrase 
** whosoever will," or the somewhat 
ambiguous term '* the world," must be 
employed, to maintain the Master's 
original intention of showing that His 
message was directed to mankind. 

And what is implied in the substance 
of the message is no less implied in the 



Man who delivered it, and in the titles 
which He assumed or accepted. His 
personal name is not allowed to be 
without significance, He was called 
Jesus because He should save. The 
title Messias or, in the Greek, Christ, 
He was chary of assuming : He put it 
off, as it were, as long as possible to 
make sure that it was not taken in the 
current acceptation. He would not be 
called Messias while that might be sup- 
posed to make Him the peculiar property 
of the Jews ; He waited to be called 
Christ until that name should have 
shaken off all suggestion of Judaism. 
Even the most careless reader of the 
three first gospels must be struck by 
this attitude assumed towards the nation 
to which He belongs. On the one hand, 
He admits that He is a Jew, and that 
His immediate personal mission is 
exclusively to the house of Israel ; but 
on the other hand, He repudiates all 
the presuppositions of the Jews con- 
cerning Him, and is finally rejected and 



executed by them, because He an- 
nounces the dissolution of their whole 
religious system in favour of a law, and 
of a worship, which can embrace all 
mankind. Accordingly the designation 
which He chooses for Himself is not 
that of Messiah, with its ambiguous sug- 
gestions, nor even that of Son of God, 
which was implied whenever He spoke 
of '' My Father," but a title which causes 
fresh astonishment to every student of 
the gospels to-day, namely, the Son of 
Man. Allow all the interpretations of 
this phrase which scholarship and in- 
genuity have suggested ; admit that it 
was a covert term for the Messias 
borrowed from the Book of Daniel or 
the Book of Enoch ; or grant, with more 
recent scholarship, that Son of Man is 
an Aramaic idiom for man pure and 
simple ; yet no unsophisticated reader 
coming to the gospels afresh and find- 
ing that the deliverer of the message 
chooses to describe Himself as man, or 
as the Son of Man, can fail to discern 



the Implication that the speaker Is de- 
livering His message to man as such, 
and assumes as his herald's livery the 
marks not of a nation or of a race, but 
of that humanity to which He wishes 
to appeal. No one then can listen to 
Jesus speaking In the gospels, and least 
of all when He Is speaking about Him- 
self, without being overwhelmed by the 
universality of His Invitations. He will 
not let the people make Him a King, 
because He understands by kingship 
not what they mean, but a witness to 
universal truth or an exercise of a com- 
prehensive love ; He Is afraid of the 
allegiance of a nation or of a Church 
which might seem to preclude the allegi- 
ance of humanity. The reader of the 
gospels involuntarily forms a picture of 
Him which for ever abides ; he sees 
Him as the great northern sculptor 
Thorwaldsen conceived Him ; he sets 
Him in the dim apse of the Church 
opening wide arms ; he feels Him in 
the open spaces of the world, nay, as 



a vast supernatural figure raised on a 
mountain, which commands the ob- 
servation of mankind, uttering the words, 
which may be proclaimed wherever there 
are human ears to hear or human hearts 
to understand, ** Come unto Me all ye 
that are weary and heavy laden, and 
I will give you rest." 

Thus it is impossible to contemplate 
the Person who delivers the message 
without perceiving how He becomes the 
message itself, and as the message by 
its very nature is addressed to mankind 
as such, so He who delivers it, by His 
titles, by His character, by all He said 
and all He did, makes an irresistible 
claim on man as man. One cannot help 
putting into His lips the words, "I, if I 
be lifted up, will draw all men unto Me." 
No nation can receive Him without im- 
mediately perceiving that every other 
nation has an equal need and an equal 
claim ; no human lips can declare who 
the Son of Man is, without at the same 
time acknowledging the responsibility to 



tell everyone else who does not know ; 
no human heart dare or can say *' Jesus 
is mine" without the astonishing dis- 
covery that He is equally everyone 
else's, and that to sit down contentedly 
under His shadow to enjoy Him, and 
not to extend the range of His influence 
and of" His joy by imparting Him, is as 
if those lepers at the gate of Samaria, 
when the great deliverance came, had 
remained at a revel in the deserted 
tents, instead of taking the good news 
to the famished city.^ 

But the question might be raised, 
will not the kingdom of God establish 
itself and develope, like the great 

^ In that wonderful book, Pastor Hsi, we hear of an 
old Chinese woman who shrank from baptism, though 
she was clearly a believer ; she gave it as the reason 
that she could not be a Christian, that to be a 
Christian meant to go into all the world and preach the 
Gospel to every creature ; and though she spoke of 
Christ to all she could, she was too old to go into all 
the world. What a joy it must have been to explain 
to that fervent soul, and then to receive her into the 
fold. She had rightly understood the meaning of 
Christianity and the Gospel. 




natural forces, without human inter- 
vention? Do not even the favourite 
parables of the seed, and the harvest, 
and the tree, imply that the growth pro- 
ceeds of itself? Is it not therefore a 
conceivable view, that we are to stand 
by and see the salvation of the Lord? 
Was there not a justification for the 
severe rebuke of that worthy divine who 
checked the missionary zeal of William 
Carey by saying, '* Young man, when 
the Lord wishes to convert the heathen 
He will do it without you ? " Now, this 
question is immediately answered, and 
all doubt is precluded, by taking another 
broad view of the New Testament and 
its teaching. For not only was the 
great message brought by the great 
Messenger, who waited for the fulness 
of time till He could come ; and not 
only did He proceed to proclaim it in a 
thoroughly human way, beginning at 
Jerusalem and aiming in His lifetime 
only at the narrow confines of the Holy 
Land ; but He immediately made it 



plain that the message was to extend 
by means of other human messengers, 
and that whatever divine power might 
work with them, the message would not 
be delivered without them ; that, in a 
word, though the seed might grow of 
itself, it must be scattered by sowers, 
and though the word might be the 
means of divine regeneration, it must 
be uttered by human lips. Just as 
surely as the message was destined for 
all mankind, just as surely as the 
kingdom of God must ultimately pre- 
vail, so surely was the principle laid 
down from the beginning, that human 
agents must voluntarily accept the re- 
sponsibility of widening the borders of 
the kingdom, and of making themselves 
the mouthpieces of the message. The 
kingdom of God in humanity will only 
come by human agency, and however 
we may fret and criticise and rebel, the 
divine decree has manifestly gone forth, 
that men will not hear the glad tidings 
unless there be preachers, and that 



preachers cannot deliver it unless they 
be sent. 

Accordingly the first thought of Christ 
was to gather about Him a group of 
men who would act as messengers. 
The word ''apostle" means one who 
is sent as a messenger, and apostolic 
succession can only mean the trans- 
mission of the messenger's duty from 
generation to generation, until all have 
heard. The chief work of the Lord's 
ministry was to train His company of 
messengers. He sent out the twelve, 
two by two, and, according to St Luke, 
He subsequently sent out seventy more 
in the same way, to drill them in the 
permanent method of His work; they 
were to go preaching the kingdom, heal- 
ing and saving wherever He Himself 
should come, and as He designed eventu- 
ally to go into all the world, they were 
to ofo into all the world. He knew that 
the work would take time and that many 
more messengers would be needed ; He 
told them that a great harvest was 



waiting — it was the harvest of all the 
world ; and He taught them to pray, 
that the Lord of the harvest, the King 
in heaven, would send out sufficient 
labourers. So far from encouraging the 
idea that the Gospel would preach itself, 
and that the kingdom would come with- 
out human effort, He made His followers 
responsible not only for strenuously 
doing their own part, but also for seek- 
ing from heaven the legions of workers 
that would be necessary for the conquest 
of the world. 

We are familiar with the fact, we take 
it for granted, but it is a most startling 
feature of the New Testament that 
Christ writes no book, publishes no code, 
issues no directions, but confines Him- 
self entirely to proclaiming and exhibit- 
ing in His own person the kingdom of 
God, then leaving to His disciples, and 
to those who should believe in Him 
through their word, the task of proclaim- 
ing, and exhibiting in their persons, Him, 
as the embodiment of the kingdom, to 



all the world. The Gospel not only con- 
tains the missionary idea, but it is the 
missionary idea and nothing else. It 
scrupulously avoids being anything else, 
and gets rid of all encumbrances ; it has 
no laboured law or exacting code, no 
stereotyped system or ecclesiastical in- 
stitutions, no ceremonial or priest or 
temple — all these are accretions or ex- 
crescences — but it is simply and austerely 
a voice, a voice crying in the wilderness, 
a voice from heaven, a voice which in- 
vites every human soul into the kingdom 
of God, and adds, *' let him that heareth 
say come." 

Accordingly when we have traversed 
the four gospels, we are, in the New 
Testament, confronted with a most amaz- 
ing spectacle, Christ the Messenger from 
heaven has been contumeliously crucified : 
the little company of His trained 
followers, who had '* thought it should 
have been He who should deliver 
Israel," must surely be overwhelmed 
with disappointment and shame, and 



must return to their humble and in- 
glorious callings. They were unlearned 
and ignorant men, without wealth or 
influence or numbers, without genius or 
even talent, knowing little or nothing of 
the wide world, they were despised and 
rejected in the narrow national circles to 
which they belonged. But the amazing 
fact is that these obscure and discouraged 
men, immediately and by an irresistible 
impulse, constituted themselves mes- 
sengers to the world. Beginning from 
Jerusalem, where they happened to be, 
they struck out in all directions ; harassed 
by the constituted authorities, they ac- 
cepted persecution as a goad for extending 
their work ; each place that was occupied 
became at once a missionary centre, each 
person who believed was in one form or 
another a missionary. Within twenty 
years of Christ's death the great Syrian 
city of Antioch, the scene of the unspeak- 
able pollutions of the Daphneum, was 
the starting-point for a deliberate and 
systematic attempt to carry the message 



throughout Asia Minor and the islands 
of the -^gean ; and the dauntless mis- 
sionaries who undertook the task were 
summoned over to Macedonia and 
Greece, preaching the good news ; and 
from that peninsula they caught sight of 
Italy and of Rome, and directly Rome 
was in sight, formed plans to get beyond 
to Spain and the Pillars of Hercules. 

And here a most remarkable feature 
of the New Testament literature comes 
into view, a feature which was brought 
into relief and over-emphasised by Baur 
and his school : we are the witnesses of 
a sharp conflict between those who took 
a narrower, and those who took the 
largest possible view of the purport of 
the message. Some of the apostles, 
limited by their Jewish training, and 
misunderstanding Christ's own reverence 
for the Jewish law, could not get beyond 
the idea that the message was for Jews 
alone, and that if the Gentiles were to 
receive it they must first become Jews. 
The Acts of the Apostles designedly or 



undesignedly shows how this limitation 
was transcended. Little by little the 
Jewish Christians opened their hearts 
and their minds, and learned to anticipate 
the fateful event of the year 70, when 
the Jewish institutions were brought to 
an abrupt end by the final destruction 
of the temple. But the main instrument 
in securing this enlargement of view was 
the Apostle Paul, who, having been the 
most rigid and bigoted observer of the 
Jewish law, received Christ not only as 
the deliverer from sin, but more par- 
ticularly as the deliverer from the Law. 
In the enthusiasm of this great emancipa- 
tion, possessing a native genius and a ful- 
ness of learning such as none of the earlier 
disciples possessed, Paul seemed to be 
the chosen vessel to direct the missionary 
impulse of Christianity to all mankind 
and to leave behind a little group of 
writings to form the pith of the New 
Testament, which would identify the 
Gospel and missionary enterprise until, 
by the triumph of the Gospel, mi§- 
E 65 


Sionary enterprise should be no more 

It must ever be a matter of surprise 
how Luther and Calvin, and the other 
reformers, can have spent so much 
labour on St Paul's epistles, and have 
got so much truth out of them, without 
observing their missionary import. Find- 
ing in them the doctrine of justification 
by faith, and using them as the unfailing 
weapon against Rome, they seemed to 
have no eye for the general indications 
of these immortal letters. For observe, 
the writings of St Paul are nothing else 
but the letters of a missionary, evoked 
by his missionary work, necessitated by 
the fact that his missionary stations 
were so numerous and so widely 
scattered, that he could be in them 
only as an occasional visitor. If St 
Paul had not been a missionary, but 
had settled down in some comfortable 
benefice, to rejoice in the fact that the 
group of believers he had gathered 
around him were the peculiar people 



of God, we should have had no Pauline 
epistles at all. How can even the 
dullest reader touch these burninor 
words ; how can even the most dry- 
as-dust theologian weld his system 
with these molten arguments ; how can 
any Christian seek salvation, confirm 
his faith, or establish his hope by 
grasping the mighty truths which fer- 
ment in the apostle's mind, without 
recognising that the whole motive, and 
design, and texture are missionary, 
and that no one has a right to share 
in the truths and privileges which St 
Paul unfolds to his readers, who is not 
fired by the missionary zeal which glows 
in the writer's heart? He writes to 
the Galatians, because in his missionary 
journeys he had gathered these converts 
out of heathendom ; and then un- 
scrupulous Judaisers had followed in 
his track, to persuade them that, in 
order to be Christians, they must also 
become Jews. To the Thessalonians 
or the Corinthians he writes, because 



in his rapid missionary course he has 
had to leave young converts not fully 
instructed ; to the Romans he writes 
as a missionary who longs to visit 
them, but is determined to send them 
of his best, if he may not come himself. 
To the Philippians he pours out his 
heart, because, the first of his converts 
in Europe, they have been the most 
untiring supporters of his missionary 
progress. The kindred letters, Colos- 
sians and Ephesians, are written when 
the missionary's course is arrested ; and 
in the irksome restraint of a prison, he 
seeks to deepen and consolidate the 
truths which he has taught. Even his 
letters to friends bear the same impress. 
The briefest of them all is the most 
missionary, for the Epistle to Philemon 
contains the truth, revolutionary to the 
ancient world, that not only Gentiles 
and barbarians, but mere slaves, whom 
Aristotle regarded rather as implements 
than as men, could be admitted into 
the kingdom of God. Finally, the 
letters to Timothy and Titus give us 



an unexpected glimpse into a period 
of Paul's life, upon which history is 
silent ; and we find him there again in 
prison, and under the very shadow of 
death, exhorting and guiding two of 
his missionary lieutenants, on whom 
the work must fall when he had 
quitted the field. 

Thus, it is not that St Paul gives 
occasional incitements or directions for 
missionary work ; it is not that here or 
there in his letters we find him arguing 
that the message comes to Gentile as 
well as to Jew, or that *' God will have 
all men to be saved, and to come to 
the knowledge of the truth " ; it is not 
that we see him now and again select- 
ing and despatching missionary agents, 
Barnabas, Silas, Epaphras, Mark, or 
Timothy, that justifies us in claiming 
for this part of the New Testament 
a missionary character, but these letters 
are missionary productions through and 
through, and have no significance apart 
from that characteristic. Livingstone 
might be regarded as an explorer no 



less than a missionary, Mackay as an 
engineer, Hannington as a prelate, but 
Paul is nothing save a missionary, his 
writings know no other subject, his 
heart is occupied with no other wish, 
but to make Christ known where He 
was not known before. Theologians, 
in trying to construct systems out of 
his letters, have largely wasted their 
time ; ecclesiastics who would have him 
as an authority for their pretensions, are 
put to constant confusion ; his business 
is not to construct a theology or to 
organise a hierarchy, but to carry Christ 
into regions beyond. His theological 
arguments or his church arrangements 
are produced incidentally, and lay claim 
to no finality ; the one constant and 
permanent element of his thought and 
work is the missionary passion ; the 
love of Christ constrains him, woe is 
to him if he preaches not the Gospel, 
he is determined to know nothing else 
but Christ, and Christ crucified, and 
never to rest till all men know. What 
an irony it is that theologians handle 



these letters, that ecclesiastics cite them, 
that individual believers build upon 
them, and yet that only a few are aware 
of their main burden, and the reason of 
their existence, which is to carry on the 
expansion of the missionary work until 
there is no country where Christ is not 
preached, and no human being to whom 
His salvation is not offered. 

The remaining epistles of the New 
Testament do not carry the missionary 
impress so distinctly as the Pauline 
writings, but a little reflection reveals 
that on most of them at any rate it is 
sufficiently clear. That eloquent and 
inspiring work, more like a great sermon 
than a letter, the Epistle to the Hebrews, 
is the living clamp which holds together 
the Old Testament and the New. Its 
object is to show that the great in- 
stitutions of the Law were symbolical, 
and that the truth which they fore- 
shadowed had at last been revealed. 
The temple and the priests, the altar 
and the sacrifices, the veil and the 
Holy of Holies had entered on a 



world-wide meaning. They were, in a 
word, fulfilled all of them and completed 
in the sole Person of Christ, they were 
not lost, rather they were for the first 
time found. The Jew had kept them 
all until they could be given to the 
world. Now they were given to the 
world. What they had been to the 
Jew in the long ages of preparation, 
they were now to be to the world in the 
longer ages of realisation ; the shadow 
had passed, that the substance might 
stand. The holy enthusiasm, which 
glows in every page, is due to the fact 
that, at last, the whole world has come 
to Zion, and the General Assembly and 
Church of the first-born is established, 
in the revelation of the Son. Thus if 
the thought of the Judaisers in the 
primitive Church was that the Gentiles 
must first become Jews in order to 
become Christians, this inspired writing 
teaches that the Gentiles were to become 
Christians in order to become Jews. 
The writer appeals to Hebrews, he 
shares their passionate attachment to 



the law and its institutions ; he will not 
lose one jot or one tittle ; every detail 
is sacred, every injunction is permanent, 
but it has all blossomed like Aaron's 
rod, it is all transformed, it is all spiritual, 
and therefore eternal, '* Yes," he seems 
to exclaim exultingly, "all mankind 
shall obey the Law, and shall be 
gathered into the Sacred Covenant of 
Judaism." For that reason the temple 
shall disappear and be replaced by the 
exalted body of Christ ; for that reason 
earthly priests shall vanish, and He shall 
be the world's sole Priest, abiding for 
ever after the order of Melchizedek ; 
for that reason the altar and the sacri- 
fices shall pass away, and He shall be 
the sacrifice offered once for all through 
the Eternal Spirit. The book therefore 
accomplishes the astonishing transforma- 
tion of turning Judaism, which seemed 
the narrowest and most exclusive of 
cults, into the religion which was meant 
for, and would reach the whole world. 

The first letter which comes to us 
under the name of Peter is a curious 



witness to the reconciliation accom- 
plished in the apostolic times, between 
the narrower views of the first apostles 
and the broader conception which was 
most vehemently advocated by St Paul ; 
indeed the only reason for questioning 
the authorship of Peter is, that the 
letter is in all its main features so strik- 
ingly Pauline. Paul once resisted Peter 
to the face, but this letter implies that 
their reconciliation was complete, and 
that Peter made an unconditional sur- 
render to the mighty thought of the 
great missionary Paul. And thus the 
address of his letter bears testimony to 
the missionary progress which was the 
most striking feature of the apostolic 
Church. It is written not to an in- 
dividual, nor even to a community, but 
to a dispersion. These apostolic writers 
address themselves to countries and to 
continents, and indeed to the world. 
From the standpoint of a Jew, Asia 
Minor was as distant and as strange 
as the American Continent or Austra- 
lasia is to us, and yet this simple 



Galilean fisherman, now become a fisher 
of men, and entered upon the task to 
which the Lord had called him, writes 
these words of encouragement under 
persecution, based on the sufferings of 
his Lord to *' the elect who are so- 
journers in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, 
Asia, and Bithynia" (i Peter i. i). 

The Epistle of St James has just the 
same striking characteristic. It is, in 
its substance, a brief homily, based 
principally upon recollections of the 
teaching of Jesus, and is a practical 
exhortation to faith and good works, and 
especially to prayer. It offers no indica- 
tions of a particular missionary intention. 
But none the less, it is a testimony to 
the missionary expansion of the apostolic 
age, because it is addressed to " the 
twelve tribes scattered abroad," that is, 
to the Jews who apparently in whole 
synagogues had become Christians, to 
be found now in all parts of the world 
to which a letter could come. 

When it is remembered that Peter 
was the slowest of the apostles to grasp 



the world-wide intention of the Gospel, 
and that James both in the Acts and in 
tradition is a Jew so scrupulous as to be 
admirable even to Jewish orthodoxy, it 
is the more impressive to observe that 
these two appear in their letters as 
witnesses of the inevitable expansion of 
the Christian message. 

The two letters, 2 Peter and Jude, are, 
it is true, devoid of any missionary 
indications ; but, curious to say, these are 
the two books of the New Testament 
about which there has been most hesita- 
tion and difficulty. And though there 
is no need to surrender them, and no 
question of excluding them from the 
Christian canon, it is certainly significant 
that their place in the New Testament 
has been questioned, perhaps because 
there is wanting in them that mis- 
sionary passion which gives its note 
to the New Testament. 

The three epistles of St John are 
rich in missionary significance ; this is 
the part of the New Testament which 
seems like a lofty hill, far removed from 



the circumstances and details of the re- 
velation" in history. The writer must 
be a Jew, his very Greek is Hebraic in 
style and structure, but he has got rid 
of all Jewish particularism ; he sees the 
truth of Christianity no longer in rela- 
tion to the Judaism out of which it 
sprang, but only in relation to the 
world for which it had come. He 
writes, that men may believe in the 
Great Truth which was meant for men ; 
there are no limitations, there is no 
possibility of limitation. There is the 
world that lies in darkness, the whole 
world ; there is God, who is light ; we 
have only to do with God and the world. 
And there is Christ, who has come out 
of God's light into the world's darkness ; 
the light has overcome the world and, 
as the world enters into that light, — one 
by one it is true, nation by nation, it may 
be, but at the last, the whole world — it is 
saved. From this lofty standpoint of 
ideas there can be no question about 
the missionary bearing of the Gospel. 
When one speaks of God and the world, 


and sets them over against one another ; 
and when one says that ' God is love,' 
and loves the world ; and when one 
announces the supreme fact in history 
that that love has sought and found the 
world in the Person of the only-begotten 
Son ; it is impossible to dwell in any par- 
ticularism of view, the love that is 
manifested to all, must be conveyed to 
each. Lio^ht is not more diffusive than 
the Gospel as it appears in these epistles ; 
light will go everywhere, its only enemy 
is darkness, and it is constantly engaged 
in overcoming its enemy. The Gospel 
will go everywhere, like the beams of 
the sun which irradiate the world ; and 
it cannot rest or halt, until ''all the 
nations that sit in darkness have seen 
the great light." 

Whatever may be its date, the Re- 
velation of John the Divine comes very 
appropriately at the close of the New 
Testament. It owes its place there to 
the fact that its authenticity and canon- 
icity were long disputed ; and it is con- 
ceivable that it was actually written 



before any of the gospels, and not long 
after the letters of St Paul : we should 
not therefore be surprised if it showed 
signs of the earlier and less inclusive 
conceptions of the Christian Gospel ; and 
we must not be offended if it bears 
traces of the passion and the terror, the 
indignation and resentment which were 
aroused when persecution broke out and 
the power of the Roman Empire was 
exerted to destroy the saints. But the 
book stands appropriately at the end of 
the New Testament, because in a strik- 
ing way it echoes and confirms the two 
main ideas of the Gospel with which the 
New Testament opens. The message 
and the Person that appear in St 
Matthew like the clear coming of the 
dawn, appear in the Apocalypse like the 
gorgeous pageant of a stormy sunset. 
There is the Person announcing Him- 
self as the Alpha and the Omega, the 
beginning and the end, issuing His 
messao^es to the several churches of His 
faithful, or unfaithful, disciples ; there 
He is, as the Lamb that had been slain, 



there He is as the living Word ; He is 
now on the throne triumphant, and all 
the voices of the universe are acclaim- 
ing Him as the King of Kings and Lord 
of Lords. And there is the Kingdom of 
God now nearing its fulfilment ; the great 
powers of the earth are shaken and 
humbled, and the stars are fallen from 
heaven, the Roman Empire, like a wild 
beast, is stricken as unto death, and the 
city of its abominations is giving place to 
the city that descends from heaven. 
The kingdoms of this world are becom- 
ing the kingdoms of the Lord and of 
His Christ. And though the confusion 
of the battle, and the terror of the tor- 
ments of the vanquished and the smoke 
and the fire from the pit fill the book 
with a certain lurid gloom, there is no 
mistaking the main purport of it all ; the 
everlasting Gospel has been proclaimed 
through the heavens and has compassed 
the earth ; the purpose for which Christ 
came is accomplished ; all kindreds and 
tribes and tongues hail Him as Lord, 



every knee is bowed and every tongue 

It will thus be seen that, taking the 
New Testament as a whole and follow- 
ing the main sweep of its ideas, we find 
its missionary teaching, not in occasional 
texts or exceptional passages, but in its 
very structure and texture. So unmis- 
takable is this missionary motive, this 
missionary burden, this missionary work, 
that practically all writings that were 
defective in this quality have been un- 
consciously excluded from the Canon. 
The principle of criticism by which 
the Canon was formed might well 
have been : Does this book bear with 
sufficient distinctness the missionary im- 
press ? That two brief documents bear- 
ing apostolic names, 2 Peter and Jude, 
should have maintained their place in 
the compilation without this distinctive 
quality is hardly worth mentioning, 
especially as, taken in connection with 
their surrounding books, they are not 
without a missionary significance, being 
warnings and denunciations against the 
F 81 


powers of evil which neutralise the 
victorious progress of the Gospel. But 
otherwise every part of the New Testa- 
ment, from the first page to the last, is 
the outcome of that missionary impulse 
which came from the heart of God in 
the Person of His Son, to reach and 
to save the world which He loved. 
Rightly considered, you might as well 
try to estimate Beethoven, excluding 
music from the study, as to estimate the 
New Testament, excluding the mission- 
ary idea. Leave out that missionary 
idea, read and study the book without the 
zeal and enthusiasm of the eager con- 
quest of the world in the name of Christ, 
and all becomes dark and confused ; but 
take that missionary idea, frankly recog- 
nise that you are handling a missionary 
book, a book which is brief and compact, 
unencumbered, as a missionary bent on 
travel and conquest should be, and all 
its pages become luminous, its several 
parts fall into their places, and even 
some of its greatest difficulties solve 





When we have by careful and detailed 
study securely established the missionary 
character of the New Testament, and 
apprehended its unique significance for 
mankind as the saving message which 
comes from God to the world, to be 
communicated by those who believe to. 
ever-widening circles until it covers the 
earth, we are then in a position to turn 
our attention to the Old Testament, 
which was the preparation for the New, 
and to trace in it the fourfold root, 
which the Gospel strikes into the past, 
the Law, the History, the Prophets, and 
the Miscellaneous Writings. 

We are not to expect in examining 
the Old Testament to find it a mission- 



ary book like the New ; we must be 
content if we can recognise its vital 
value as the historic preparation for the 
great missionary message. If the Old 
Testament were a missionary book like 
the New, the New Testament would 
not have been necessary ; the Jewish 
faith would have gone out to conquer 
the earth, and the Jewish Scriptures 
would have been the sufficient Gospel 
for mankind. But what we are to ex- 
pect from the missionary study of the 
Old Testament is an appreciation of the 
long evolutionary processes by which 
God prepared mankind for His supreme 
revelation. We may expect to see the 
nation which was chosen as the teacher 
and the servant of the human race, 
gradually trained for its destiny, and 
subjected to that discipline by which 
alone men's wayward hearts can receive 
communications from God. And since, 
in St Augustine's striking phrase,^ the 

^ " Novum Testamentum latet in Vetere, Vetus 
Testamentum patet in Novo." 



New Testament is latent In the Old, we 
may expect to find repeated suggestions 
and anticipations of the missionary- 
Gospel which was to be unveiled in the 
New ; and if only we could arrange the 
Old Testament literature in its right 
chronological order, we might expect 
to find that those premonitions of what 
was to be, grow clearer and more con- 
vincing as time advances, a dawn which 
brightens more and more unto a perfect 

With these expectations let us first 
examine the Law. It must be remem- 
bered that the Pentateuch, or the Five 
Books of Moses, was, par excellence, the 
Bible of Judaism — the Prophets and 
the other writings were secondary, and 
in some circles hardly regarded as 
Scripture at all. When Christ came, 
this sacred Law had for some four 
hundred years been regarded as the 
inviolable, the complete, and the final 
revelation of God. Jewish orthodoxy 
consisted in a minute and painstaking 



mastery of the venerable code, Jewish 
religion expanded only in an endless 
and often lifeless commentary on the 
Law, and the rabbinical writings had 
made the Law so elaborate, so burden- 
some, and so terrifying, that as no person 
could fully keep the Law, and yet there 
was no salvation but by keeping it, the 
Law had become an instrument of con- 
vincing men of sin, rather than a 
means of securing their salvation. But 
in the light of Christianity this tradi- 
tional handling of the Law is seen to 
be an unintelligent perversion. Rab- 
binism, however sincere, was blind ; 
a veil rested on the eyes that were 
studying the Law with such slavish 

When, from the Christian standpoint, 
enlightened especially by the Epistle 
to the Hebrews, we turn back to 
the Pentateuch, we find it a living 
book, rich in vital growth and in 
symbolical anticipations, a long fibrous 
root out of which came the new Law of 



the Mount, and the greater Prophet like 
unto Moses. We are able to discern 
what escaped the shortsighted and 
pettifogging studies of the rabbis, that 
the Law, as we possess it, is the record 
of a long development in the religious 
institutions of Israel ; we can see 
stratum on stratum of fresh legislation, 
and can surmise the prophetic and 
spiritual influences which from age to 
age expanded and deepened and puri- 
fied the Law. In a word, we can see 
in the Pe7itateuch, the Law of Moses as 
it developed from the earliest times to 
the time of Ezra ; and it is in recognis- 
ing this gradual and fruitful develop- 
ment as against the cramped notion of 
the rabbis, that we gradually become 
aware of the deeper sense in which the 
Law was our schoolmaster to bring us 
to Christ, and of those intimations of 
missionary purpose which underlie what 
the rabbis had made a narrow and 
exclusive religious system.^ 

1 "I would not even curdle milk on the Sabbath, 



It is not necessary here to go into 
minute details, but some hints may be 
given for tracing the development in 
the Law, for understanding its relation 
to the rest of the Old Testament, and, 
so far, perceiving how it led up to the 
missionary message of the New. Let 
the reader examine the regulations in 
those chapters of Exodus (xxi.-xxiv.) 
which aresometimes described as tht BooJ^ 
of the Covenant, because they seem to 

because that had been declared by the decisions of 
the Wise, to be a lesser kind of building ; neither 
would I walk upon grass during the Sabbath, because 
that also had been pronounced by the Rabbis to be a 
lesser kind of threshing . . . 

" One of the pupils of Abuyah asked him which was 
the most weighty of precepts, then he answered, 'the 
law of tassels, and,' said he, ' so do I esteem this law, 
that once, because I had chanced to tread upon a 
portion of the fringe of my garment going up a ladder 
I steadfastly refused to move from the spot where I 
stood, till such time as the rent had been repaired.' 
This Abuyah chid my mother because she wore on 
her dress a ribbon that was not sewn, but only fastened 
to her vesture. 'For this,' he said, 'my mother 
transgressed the Law, by bearing burdens on the 
Sabbath . . .' 

" I joined myself to a certain brotherhood, called 
Chabura . . . now, it was the custom of the Chaburim 



comprise the Mosaic Law in its original 
form, and let him compare this primi- 
tive code with the grand sweep and the 
ethical and spiritual passion of the Book 
of Deuteronomy, and he will at once 
become aware of the incalculable de- 
velopment which is here implied. Then 
let him study Deuteronomy side by side 
with Jeremiah, observing the similarity 
of thought, and even of diction, between 
the two books ; and he will probably 

to meet on the Sabbath day at one another's houses 
that we might sup together. But the space between 
our houses often exceeded 2000 paces, which distance 
was not to be exceeded by a man travelling on the 
Sabbath day. 

"Therefore to a plain man it would have seemed 
that we could not sup with one another on the Sabbath 
day and at the same time obey the Law. . . . But, on 
the evening before the Sabbath, the scribes would 
place small pieces of meat, distant 2000 paces one 
from another, on the road whereon they desired to 
journey. ' Where a man's meat is,' said they, ' there 
is his home.' So when they were come in their 
journeying to the first piece of meat, they would say, 
'Now I am at my home, and may walk yet another 
2000 paces.' 

" And so, walking from this home to other homes 
if need were, they walked as far as they listed." 

Dr Abbott's Philo-christus. 



become aware how the work of that 
great Prophet of Anathoth, himself also 
a priest, was used by God to develop 
and spiritualise the Law.^ In Deutero- 
nomy all the scattered sanctuaries and 
the high places which were lawful and 
useful in the time of Samuel, and which, 
though with increasing corruptions, main- 
tained themselves through the times of 
the kings, have disappeared, and the 
condition of things which was to be 
realised after the return from captivity, 
is described : the one sanctuary and 
the one altar. It was only the unified 
and purified cultus which became the 
true symbol of Christ, the type of the 
one Hicjh Priest and the one Sacrifice 
which could be proclaimed to all the 
world. And not only so, but when 
the connection between Jeremiah and 
Deuteronomy is recognised, we are 
entitled to interpret the Deuteronomic 
Law in the light of Jeremiah's great 

^ See Driver's Introduction to the Old Testament^ 
p. 95. 



spiritual principle, that all the sacrifices 
which were enjoined at the Exodus 
were not of value for themselves, but 
were typical of a certain spiritual 
sacrifice, and that the whole Law was 
only an anticipation of another Covenant 
which w^ould be written on purified 
hearts (Jer. xxxi. 31-34). These great 
thoughts of Jeremiah find frequent ex- 
pression in Deuteronomy : circumcision 
is of the heart rather than of the body, 
and the whole Deuteronomic idea passes 
as directly into the Sermon on the 
Mount as the prophecies of Jeremiah 
pass into the Gospel delivered in Jesus 

Or to examine another similar Instance, 
there is a section of Leviticus (ch. xvii.- 
xxvi.) which is sometimes called the Law 
of Holiness ; the regulations contained 
in it vary considerably from those in the 
earlier Covenant, and even from those 
in Deuteronomy. Amongst other sig- 
nificant details the familiar phrase, ** the 
priests, the Levites," disappears, and 



the priests are sharply distinguished 
from the Levites as a superior order. 
But when we turn to the Book of 
Ezekiel ^ and study the teaching of that 
prophet, himself also a priest, we find 
many points of contact with the Law 
of Holiness, and among others the ex- 
planation is given of the distinction 
between the Levites and the priests, 
and the degradation of the former into 
an inferior order. Here we seem to 
come upon the process by which the 
Mosaic institutions were carried to their 
legitimate development, and to recognise 
in the inspired priest-prophet of the 
Chebar vision, the human agency by 
which the Law after the Exile was 
determined and interpreted. Taking 
therefore his book as the key to the 
manifold regulations of the Levitical 
Law, we learn to see in them the 
symbols of that spiritual expansion 
which was always before the mind of 

1 Compare Lev. xxvi. 30 with Ezk. vi. 5, and Lev. 
xxvi. 39 with Ezk. xxxiii. 10. 



Ezekiel. They typify the sprinkHng of 
pure water which would purify the 
heart ; and the whole restored Temple 
finds its significance for mankind in the 
prophecy of the living waters which 
would issue from it, a stream widening 
and deepening until it should cover the 
earth. It is evident that our Lord 
Himself thus took Ezekiel as the in- 
terpreter of the completed Law, and 
took His own mission as the fulfilment 
of its prophecy, when on that last day 
of the feast He invited the thirsty 
world to come unto Him and to drink, 
and promised that whosoever believed 
in Him, '* out of his belly should flow 
rivers of living water " (John vii. '^'], 38). 
It will be seen then that rabbinical 
interpretation of the Law reduced it to 
a dead and encumbering letter. Not 
only had its doctors lost the sense of its 
evolution, but they had suffered its very 
spirit to escape. They treated it as an 
end in itself, and no longer observed 
that it all pointed to a fulfilment outside 



itself. When at last that fulfilment came 
they were totally unable to recognise it, 
and were as indignant with Jesus for re- 
vising and developing the Law as they 
would have been with the suggestion 
that it had been expanded by Jeremiah 
or Ezekiel. They had forgotten that 
the Law was an organism, and were not 
therefore prepared to see it bud and bear 
the fruit for which it had all along existed. 
The Temple with its orders of priests, its 
vast shambles of sacrifice, and its traders 
selling and changing money in its pre- 
cincts, was no longer a symbol of a better 
thing to be, but a privilege, a property, 
a dominion, of which they regarded 
themselves as the exclusive owners. 
Consequently the missionary significance 
of the Law was lost ; so far from seeking 
to gather in the Gentiles, the great bulk 
of Israelites, excluded the ** people of 
the land," as those who were accursed 
because they knew not the Law. The 
existence of numerous proselytes in 
every part of the Roman Empire in the 



last century B.C. is a proof that within 
the Law was hidden an indestructible 
missionary principle, but the rabbis dis- 
couraged rather than welcomed pro- 
selytes, and never suffered them to 
forget that they stood upon an inferior 
footing. But as we come to see the 
principle of expansion which can be 
traced in the Law-book itself, and as we 
recognise the influence of each great 
spiritual personality and of each period 
of history on that expansion of the Law, 
we are prepared for that which to the 
rabbis seemed to be incredible and 
sacrilegious, the advent of One who 
would in a manner bring the Law to an 
end by fulfilling it. Quite naturally we 
fit on the glowing sermons of Deutero- 
nomy to the Sermon on the Mount, 
and as with a flash of revelation we see 
the whole elaborate and detailed system 
of priests and sacrifices, of shewbread 
and incense, of veil and ark, and Holy 
of Holies, of feasts and purifications 
and atonement, realised and made the 
G 97 


property of the human race in the sole 
Person of our Lord Jesus Christ. Not 
only does the Epistle to the Hebrews 
give an allegorical interpretation to the 
Law, but it offers the key without which 
the Law would be an insoluble mystery. 
Moses knew that a Prophet must arise 
to bring his institutions to their perfec- 
tion, and Aaron knew the insufficiency 
of his offerings even to cleanse himself; 
every detail of the cultus announced its 
own incompleteness, and confessed it 
was only provisional. And the Law 
to-day, even to the most pious Jews, is 
an obvious and irreparable ruin. Where 
to-day is the high priest, or the altar, 
or the sacrifice ? ^ what can be made of 
the minute directions for continuing the 
perpetual offering, or of the prophetic 

^ It is said that the modern Jews, before the Feast of 
the Atonement, kill a cock, supposing that the sins of 
Israel are in this way atoned for. This dwindled rite 
is all that remains of the great propitiatory system, 
and marks clearly the need of Christ to interpret the 
Law. (My authority is Frazer, The Golden Bough^ 
vol. iii. p. 112). 



promise that the priest and the Levite 
should never cease? Unless the Epistle 
to the Hebrews is right, unless the great 
missionary religion of Jesus is the fulfil- 
ment of the Law, unless Christ gathers 
up in His Person every jot and tittle to 
fulfil it, the Law is a dead and useless 
thing, which after 1 500 years of gradual 
growth, and splendid prophecy of some- 
thing better to come, suddenly decayed 
and disappeared, and has remained for 
1900 years the shattered treasure of a 
forlorn and unmissionary Israel. 





It Is not difficult to see that Chris- 
tianity, the missionary religion, strikes a 
deep root into history. Manifestly it is 
the product of the Jewish people, for it 
is inconceivable that Christianity could 
have come out of the pantheism and 
pessimism of the Further East, and it is 
hardly more conceivable that it should 
have sprung from the sensuous poly- 
theism of Greece, or from the hard and 
practical religion of Rome. No ; Christ, 
if He is to be derived from any human 
family, must come from Israel, and 
Israel lived and developed and was 
trained and disciplined in order to pro- 
duce Him. The missionary religion 
which could suit the East and the West, 



and could offer a spiritual satisfaction 
to men of all cultures and of all 
ages, could come only out of a people 
whose training and discipline had been 
prolonged through many centuries under 
the guidance, not of chance, but of 
the Divine mind, which works through 
centuries and millenniums to its foreseen 

If, therefore, we could be content to 
recognise the missionary element in the 
history of Israel merely from the fact 
that Israel was, as it were, the chrysalis 
which produced the butterfly, our task 
would not be hard. But when we wish 
to study the history of the people out of 
whom, according to the flesh, Christ 
came, and to detect the promise and the 
potency of that religious truth which 
would be capable of meeting the needs 
of the whole world, we are confronted 
with difficulties which may easily baffle 
us, and incline us to turn from the 
histories of the Old Testament with 
something like aversion. 



Now, before endeavouring to face 
these difficulties and to find a possible 
mode of study, let us take a brief survey 
of the historic element in the Old 
Testament : From Genesis to the end 
of Nehemiah there is an irregular but 
unbroken stream of historical narrative. 
History in the modern scientific sense 
of the word there is not ; and even 
history in the sense which Thucydides 
introduced to the human mind, namely, 
a careful chronological narrative, based 
on the sifting and comparison of diver- 
gent materials, and the final decision 
of a detached judgment, must not be 
expected ; indeed the narrative flows on 
through what might sometimes seem to 
be meadows of simple fact and then 
passes through profound gorges, where 
fact disappears in mystery and imagi- 
nation ; sometimes the stream shrivels 
to mere genealogical tables, or to curt 
lists of individuals and their character- 
istic achievements, but sometimes it 
expands into an extraordinary fulness 



of detail, and is more like biography 
than history ; sometimes we feel we are 
touching the bare chronicles of a nation 
officially kept, and sometimes the nar- 
rative is like the rich and cherished 
legends of a pious and poetical people. 
In Genesis we begin with the creation 
of all things, that distant past of which, 
as there could be no human witnesses, 
there can be no history in the ordinary 
sense of the term. We pass at once 
to the history of mankind, but are 
rapidly narrowed down to Israel, his 
forefathers and immediate descendants. 
In Exodus we find the Israelites the 
bondservants of the ancient civilisation 
of Egypt, and we trace their escape 
from the house of bondage under the 
guidance of the founder and lawgiver 
of their nation; through the rest of the 
Pentateuch and the Book of Joshua we 
follow the journey through the wilder- 
ness, and the conquest of the land which 
was to be the seat of the national life. 
But this part of the history is swollen 

1 06 


by the interweaving of all the legislation, 
political, religious, and social, which in 
the course of time was attached to the 
institutions of Moses. In the Book of 
Judges, we are carried over three or 
four centuries of broken and confused 
events, before the Israelites had found 
a king and effectual national unity. 
With the First Book of Samuel the king 
appears, and though the unity of the 
monarchy is only maintained under three 
sovereigns, the story of the kings is told 
in an irregular way for about four hundred 
years, until first the larger kingdom of 
Israel was destroyed by the Assyrians in 
721 B.C., and then in 586 B.C., the smaller 
kingdom of Jerusalem was destroyed 
by the Babylonians. With the Chron- 
icles, the history begins afresh and in 
a totally changed atmosphere ; the 
chronicler starts from Adam, and in a 
series of genealogies brings his reader 
rapidly down to King David. He has 
no concern with the northern kingdom 
of Israel, and his main interest with the 



kingdom of Judah is that it furnished 
the preparation for the church-state 
after the return from Exile which we 
know as Judaism. The Books of Ezra 
and Nehemiah fit closely on to the Book 
of Chronicles ; the seventy years of the 
Exile are ignored, and Israel's history is 
resumed with the return of the captives, 
the rebuilding of the Temple, the com- 
pletion of the Law, and the establish- 
ment of that religious system which 
resisted the disasters and political 
changes of nearly five hundred years, 
and remained in apparent efficiency and 
vigour until the Lord came to His 
Temple to cleanse it, and took the Law 
in His hand to recreate it. 

If we miorht include the Books of the 
Maccabees in the Old Testament, we 
might continue the history of Israel 
through one heroic struggle at least, and 
come within a century and a half of the 
new era which Israel waited to see ; but 
confining ourselves to the Canonical 
Scriptures, we find that the history has 

1 08 


brought us over the thousand years from 
Moses to Ezra, and there leaves us in a 
spirit of puzzled expectation. 

Now the baffling difficulty of the 
history thus hastily sketched, when we 
are seeking to apprehend its missionary 
import, is that it seems to be a story not 
of progress but of decline ; the golden 
dawn fades into the- light of common 
day ; a golden age passes into an age of 
iron. Leaving aside the magnificent 
descriptions of the creation of all things 
and of man in Paradise, and starting 
only from the heroic figures that are 
drawn with such extraordinary power in 
the opening book of the Bible, we are 
almost startled to realise how great a 
person Noah, for example, the father of 
nations, is in comparison with the in- 
significant monarchs who followed each 
other on the thrones of Samaria and 
Jerusalem. How poor and limited a 
personality does Nehemiah seem com- 
pared with Abraham, the father of the 
nation ! Abraham already sees his 



descendants like the stars of heaven, 
and the grandeur of the simple faith 
strikes the note of a universal religion. 
There is nothing parochial or sectarian 
or even national about him ; but with 
all his faults and failures, he seems not 
unworthy to be the ancestor of Christ, 
and the Father of the Faithful ; in him 
all the families of the earth seem blessed. 
But Nehemiah with his intense and 
narrow patriotism, with the piety which 
sought to restore and reform his people, 
and with the anxious plea that God 
would remember him for good on 
account of his deeds, is pathetic rather 
than heroic ; and so far from thinking of 
blessing all the families of the earth, he 
is engaged in a petty struggle against 
the people of the land, whom he con- 
signs to the judgment of God ; and his 
principal work is to preserve his little 
group of returned exiles from the con- 
tamination of the surrounding people. 
What a strange falling off! What a 
result from two thousand years of the 



national life to pass from Abraham to 
Nehemiah ! 

Or again, what story of the exile can 
compare with the story of Joseph ? 
Daniel is noble and courageous and 
faithful to his God, but who could put 
the story of Daniel on the same plane as 
the story of Joseph ? In every point of 
character, in the development of the story, 
in the wide beneficence of his life, and in 
the prophetic expectation of his death, 
that great lover of his brethren, beloved 
by his heathen friends, is an apt and 
beautiful symbol of Christ, and compared 
with the simplicity, the probability, and 
the naturalness of the narrative the 
events recorded in the Book of Daniel 
seem to suggest a strange decline.^ 

1 " In face of the facts presented by the Book of 
Daniel, the opinion that it is the work of Daniel 
himself cannot be sustained. Internal evidence shows, 
with a cogency that cannot be resisted, that it must 
have been written not earlier than c. 300 B.C., in 
Palestine ; and it is at least probable that it was 
composed under the persecution of Antiochus 
Epiphanes, B.C. 168 or 167." — Introduction to the Old 
Testament^ p. 467, Prof. Driver. 

I I I 


Or even those benedictions which 
Israel uttered over his sons in the Book 
of Genesis imply a width of outlook 
and a promise of the wellbeing of 
mankind for which we shall look in 
vain among the annals of that later 
time. One hardly ventures to put Ezra 
side by side with Moses, or Joshua the 
high priest with his tattered robes, by 
Aaron in his full canonicals. It seems 
almost irreverent and sacrilegious to 
think of those men in the grey and 
commonplace days of the Restoration, 
as in line with the glorious figures of 
the Exodus and the conquest of Canaan, 

And further, the Monarchy itself is 
only a history of decline and fall. Saul 
was rejected, but he was greater far 
than any of the subsequent kings 
except David. David not only ruled a 
wider dominion than his successors, but 
his ideas had that forward reach and 
that possibility of expansion which 
seemed to suggest a world-wide reign. 
Making allowance for the cruder manners 



and the undeveloped morality of the 
period looo B.C., we can say of David 
what can be said of no other king, that 
he was a suitable type of Christ. His 
greatness he bequeathed to his son, with 
whom it disappeared. Solomon, cultivat- 
ing world-wide relations, building the 
Temple, and praying at its dedication 
for all the nations of the earth that 
should come to seek the Lord in that 
place, touches the high-water mark of 
missionary significance in the monarchy 
of Israel. With Solomon's son the 
monarchy was not only torn in two, but 
it seemed to lose all historical import- 
ance. The northern kingdom under 
Ahab was strong enough to gain notice 
in the records of Assyria, and again 
under Jeroboam II. it attained to a brief 
prosperity, when the Assyrians had 
weakened its neighbours just before its 
own time for absorption came. But as 
the Chronicler implies, this northern 
kingdom had no lasting place in the 
Israel of the future : it disappeared for 

H 113 


ever without contributing an Idea or a 
truth to the missionary thought of the 
race ; and the southern kingdom, limited 
in extent, governed by the insignificant 
successors of David, notwithstanding 
occasional revivals of religious life under 
the Influence of prophets like Isaiah and 
Jeremiah, fell more and more into decay ; 
and when at last it was absorbed in the 
empire of Nebuchadnezzar, there seemed 
from the political point of view nothing 
to regret in the change. 

After the Exile, what an extraordinary 
contrast is presented between the small 
and discouraged company that built the 
second Temple, weeping at its dedica- 
tion, and the triumphant army which 
Joshua led into the Promised Land, or 
the united nation which, five hundred 
years later, enabled Solomon to build his 
magnificent shrine ! 

It is, then, in every way a descent from 
the large and the heroic to the petty 
and the commonplace ; and in surveying 
the long and dismal record, while it 



may be easy to learn lessons concerning 
human sin and divine punishment, we 
may well ask, How can any missionary 
purpose be bound up in such a story 
beyond the simple and indisputable fact, 
that this is the history of the nation out of 
which Christ and the missionary message 

There are two ways in which this 
difficulty may be overcome ; one of them 
is the traditional way, the other is the 
modern and scientific way. The tradi- 
tional way is sanctioned by the usage of 
ages, and yields rich results in spiritual 
and moral teaching ; but for the purpose 
of bringing out the missionary signifi- 
cance of Israel, and showing the steps 
by which the older religion widened into 
the new, the scientific handling of the 
historical literature yields results which 
it would be foolish to ignore. There 
are many who regard this latter method 
with suspicion and dislike, and they are 
apt to think that it destroys the authority 
of Scripture ; but it is one of the wonders 



of the Bible that under the free and 
unprejudiced treatment of a scholarship 
which regards the Bible just like any- 
other literature, the divine meaning of 
the book and of the religion which it 
conveys becomes only the more evident. 
Certainly, for the purpose of studying 
the history of Israel in its missionary 
bearings, we gain much by adopting the 
scientific method. 

I. The traditional way. — According 
to the mode of regarding the history of 
Israel which we have inherited from the 
uncritical view of the Jews themselves, 
the history begins always with glorious 
and fully developed ideals, from which 
men are constantly departing. Every- 
thing is created very good, and steadily 
becomes worse. The Fathers of Israel 
are models of faith, and wisdom, and 
heroism, and their posterity is more 
unworthy of them generatiou after gener- 
ation. The Law is given at once in its 
completeness, and the nation departs 
farther and farther from it as it proceeds ; 



the kingdom starts at its highest and 
rapidly degenerates, and we are led 
to feel that this natural tendency to 
deterioration and the flagrant rebellion 
against God are properly punished by 
the final collapse and the long Captivity. 
From this point of view the successive 
strokes of chastisement, culminating in 
the destruction of the nation and of the 
Temple, achieve this one result, that 
Israel in the Captivity finally puts away 
his idols and becomes once and for ever 
the worshipper and the witness of the 
one God. The exiles, returning humbled 
and sobered, establish a petty state, 
without the glory of David's kingship 
and without the splendour of Solomon's 
Temple ; but though the brilliant ideals 
of the dawn have faded away there is this 
compensation, that the new constitution 
is the scrupulous keeper of the law and 
the supreme safeguard of Monotheism. 
Perhaps we may put it in a word thus : 
the faith of Abraham, in which all the 
families of the earth should be blest, was 



by these long centuries of discipline 
defined as the faith in one God ; and 
the Law of Moses, which before the 
Captivity was never really kept, became 
at last the practical guide of Judaism ; 
and out of this purified though contracted 
religion Christ was to come, to realise 
the faith of Abraham, to spiritualise the 
Law of Moses, and to fulfil the promise 
of David's kingdom. 

There is much in the prophets which 
confirms this view. All of them from 
Amos to Malachi are loud in their de- 
nunciations of sinful Israel, and yet most 
of them anticipate a future in which the 
promise of the nation will be fulfilled, and 
a purified people under a Divine Ruler 
will bring the nations of the world to the 
spiritual Zion. Taking the prophets to 
interpret the history, as we have every 
right to do, we may study those cen- 
turies of unfaithfulness and decline 
and find everywhere the signs that the 
bright ideals with which the nation 
began were working out towards an 



unforeseen result ; through apparent 
failures and pitiable disappointments 
they were awaiting the expectation of 
great events which would in unexpected 
ways fulfil and more than fulfil the 
ancient promises. A study of the his- 
tory on these lines must be instructive, 
and yet it leaves something to be 
desired, as a demonstration of the mis- 
sionary purpose of the whole process. 
If now we turn to the modern method of 
handling the history, it is because that 
method, revolutionary as it seems, 
brings out the missionary evolution of 
Israel in a clear development from the 

2. The scientific method. — Historical 
science to-day takes the Old Testament 
documents and treats them in the same 
way as the literature of other ancient 
peoples. Starting without dogmatic 
bias and applying the tests which it uses 
for Herodotus or for Livy, it proceeds in 
a way, and it often reaches conclusions 
which shock and horrify devout believers. 



But as nothing can prevent scientific 
historians from taking this course, and 
as our missionary converts must in their 
contact with Western thought become 
aware that this course is taken, we 
should not shrink from examining these 
strange conclusions and estimating how 
they effect our religious position. 

Now, historical criticism investigating 
the books of the Old Testament insists 
on the fact that while the narrative from 
the Creation to the new Judaism of Ezra 
and Nehemiah runs in chronological 
order, the parts of that history were by 
no means composed in that order. Thus 
an earlier part written in a later time may 
bear the colour and the thought of the 
later time, and the most primitive stories 
may be presented in the atmosphere of 
the later age in which they assumed a 
literary form. Suppose, by way of illus- 
tration, that a nineteenth-century writer 
in England should prefix to his history 
Tennyson's Idylls of the King to cover 
the period of Arthur, and should then go 

1 20 


on with the Saxon Chronicle ; we should 
have something Hke the Hterary com- 
plexion which historical science finds 
in the Old Testament literature. The 
Book of Judges is a more ancient docu- 
ment than the completed Pentateuch as 
we read it, though the Pentateuch deals 
with earlier events. The Book of 
Genesis, containing the origins of the 
nation and of the world, is, as a piece of 
literature, among the recent works of 
Judaism.^ When prophetic writers in 
the later days of the national develop- 
ment told the primitive stories of their 
race and wrote their magnificent account 
of the origin of things, they breathed into 
their work the spirit of their own highly 
developed religion. When the laborious 
and conscientious compilers of the Law 
brought the code into its present form, 
arranging the accumulated materials of 
centuries, they regarded the whole in 
the light which they had gathered from 

^ Driver's Introduction to the Old Testament^ p. 



Ezra and Nehemiah. When the chron- 
iclers of a later date told the story of 
David and Solomon, they pictured the 
splendours of these earlier reigns in the 
light of a wistful fancy which always 
places the golden age in the past. That 
such a tendency was at work in Hebrew 
historians is proved by the Books of 
Chronicles, for there the post-Exilic 
chronicler re-writes the history of 
David's kingdom, reading into the older 
records of the Books of Kings the ideas 
and standards of the centralised and 
developed religious cultus with which 
he himself was familiar. 

We cannot here go into details, but 
the general effect of this critical handling 
of the authorities is, that the history of 
Israel appears not as a decadence pro- 
longed through centuries, but as a per- 
fectly steady upward movement ; the 
noble and brilliant ideals which appear 
at the beginning of the literary records 
are really the outcome of the long 
travail and discipline of that develop- 



ment, the creation of those inspired 
poets and prophets who were raised up 
to guide the national evolution. From 
this point of view the Church of the 
restored exiles, which we know as 
Judaism, was by far the highest achiev- 
ment which the race had yet reached, 
and to reach such a point of develop- 
ment was worth all the struggle and the 
suffering which led up to it. That 
church showed its capacity for produc- 
ing the great future by the way in 
which it re-wrote the history of its past. 
In its atmosphere of chastened and 
spiritual anticipation the story of crea- 
tion became a grand psalm of six days' 
labour, followed by the sacred day of 
rest ; and the stories of the Patriarchs 
become sermons, rich in moral signifi- 
cance and spiritual power, which the 
world will never outgrow. In that 
atmosphere, the Exodus from Egypt, 
the wanderings in the wilderness, and 
the entrance into Canaan, became a 
parable of redemption, which seems to 



labour with a promise of a Redeemer ; 
and the giving of the Law is invested 
with a symbolic beauty which suggests 
another law of more world-wide signifi- 
cance. In that atmosphere the un- 
doubtedly great figures of David and 
Solomon were enriched with attributes 
which made them prophetic types of a 
coming King ; their petty kingdom was 
made to imply a dominion from sea to 
sea, a government of all mankind, laid 
on the shoulder of a Diviner David ; 
to the one was attributed the national 
psalmody, by far the most wonderful 
psalmody ever produced, and to the 
other was attributed the sententious 
wisdom which in its personified form be- 
came the clearest forecast of Messias. 

Thus from the critical handling of Old 
Testament history comes the astonish- 
ing result, that Israel was gradually led 
under prophetic guidance from a primi- 
tive obscurity of Semitic immorality and 
idolatry, through a chequered history of 
trivial wars and insubstantial dynasties, 



into the fiery furnace of the Captivity, 
from which it emerged, like Job from his 
affliction, to realise a greatness which it 
had never known in the past. Between 
that return from exile and the coming 
of Christ, the history of that prepared 
people is the incubation of the Messianic 
idea. Apparently engaged in glorifying 
and stereotyping its past, Judaism was 
really waiting with bowed head for 
the expectation of Israel. And that 
proselytising impulse which we can 
discern in the last century B.C., as if 
Judaism were just on the point of 
blossoming into a missionary religion, 
is the last and proper outcome of its 
long development, and the natural link 
with that Christian revelation to which 
it had been pointing. 

To handle the Old Testament there- 
fore in the scientific way, and with- 
out dogmatic prejudice, ma}' mean to 
surrender much that is cherished, but 
to gain something that is still more 
desirable. It may enable us to see 



in Christianity the missionary message 
for the world, which had been prepared 
by a natural historical development, and 
which is therefore guaranteed by the 
science and by the widening thought of 
our time, as it is by the intrinsic and 
self-evident truth which the human 
soul recognises in it. 





The main work of the prophets was to 
guide the development of Israel, some- 
times as statesmen who appealed to the 
king, and sometimes as preachers who 
appealed to the people. We have 
already seen their influence at work on 
the Law and on the social and political 
life of their countrymen, and, so far as 
they were the makers of Israel, we 
can at once apprehend the missionary 
message which they had for the world. 
But as men who spake as they were 
moved by the Holy Ghost, exhibiting 
the divine authority of the moral law, 
and expressing the designs of God for 
mankind, they frequently enjoyed visions 
of a distant future, and broke into 
I 129 


exultant forecasts of a time when the 
truth they knew would be received, and 
the God they served would be acknow- 
ledged, not only by Israel but by all 
nations. Some of these missionary 
forecasts, for example in the Book of 
Isaiah, have become so familiar as to be 
the clearest biblical expression of the 
prospect for a world-wide diffusion of 
the Gospel. But the missionary study 
of the prophets as a whole is still 
difficult, even for erudite scholars, and 
wellnigh impossible for the reader who 
is at the mercy of the English versions. 
And yet the impression made by the 
familiar passages in Isaiah is greatly 
deepened and intensified when an ade- 
quate notion is gained of the whole 
prophetic activity in Israel. These 
prophets one and all gazed on their 
nation as a chosen instrument of God, 
they felt that it had a world-wide destiny ; 
the terrific chastisements which they de- 
nounced, were not to destroy, but to 
purify the nation ; and the privileges they 



claimed for it were not exclusive, but 
rather a deposit for the welfare of the 
world. Few things would quicken our 
missionary zeal more effectually than 
to realise these holy men of old whose 
writings extend from the eighth to the 
fourth century B.C., possibly even to the 
second, travailing in birth with the Gospel 
which Christ was to bring, and, like 
John the Baptist, the last of their order, 
preparing the way in the wilderness for 
the coming of the heavenly kingdom. 

The difficulties in the way of such a 
study are great, but not insurmountable ; 
they are due to the fact that the Jewish 
editing of the prophetic literature, which 
we until recent years have blindly ac- 
cepted, is hardly worthy of the name 
at all. Thus the writings lie in our 
Bibles out of all chronological order ; 
the prophecies or oracles are perversely 
mixed up ; a very early one is followed 
without any notice by a very late one ; 
sometimes a chasm of centuries will 
yawn between them. As the text con- 



tains no note of these bewildering tran- 
sitions, and offers nothing but internal 
evidence to indicate the date or the 
circumstances of a particular passage, 
the reader becomes bewildered, and either 
may give up the study of the prophets 
altogether or may extract from the words 
meanings that the writers never dreamed 
of. There is a further difficulty which 
taxes the patience of scholars : the text 
in some parts, for example Hosea or 
Ezekiel, is occasionally so uncertain that 
intelligible renderings are only reached 
by conjectural emendations. Very much 
that is obscure in the original has a 
fallacious clearness in our English 
versions, and a good deal that is obscure 
in these versions could only be made 
clear by the discovery of a sounder 
Hebrew text. A few notes on the pro- 
phetic literature, however, may encourage 
the student to make fresh attempts and 
may lead him to the discovery of fresh 
treasures in this disordered literature. 
There are, according to the Jewish 



arrangement, five prophetic books : ^ a 
glance at each of them in succession 
may help us to realise the need of better 
editing. The first of the books is a 
collection of prophecies gathered under 
the name of Isaiah, but there is no 
evidence that the collection as a whole 
was written by that great prophet. 
Chapters xl. to Ixvi. belong evidently to 
the Exile, and in the earlier chapters 
there are considerable passages which 
shine with a new meaning when they 
are dated long after the time of 
Isaiah.2 It would indeed be interesting 
to know whether these diverse writings 
were gathered under the prophet's name 

^ Strictly speaking, the Books of Kings were treated 
as part of the Prophets, but we are now concerned only 
with the books which, according to our current usage, 
are deemed prophetic. 

2 Prof. G. A. Smith's books on Isaiah, and on the 
Minor Prophets, in the Expositor's Bible^ have put 
within the reach of every reader the evidences for 
the right arrangement and dating of these particular 
prophets. For the remainder, the best and most 
accessible work is Prof. Driver's Introduction to the 
Old Testament Literature. 


by chance or by design ; but it is evident 
that the right use of these great oracles 
cannot be made until the approximate 
dates are fixed, and the conditions out 
of which they arose are understood. 

The second book, that of Jeremiah, is 
not beset with the same difficulties ; 
there is little reason for questioning that 
practically all came from the pen of that 
greatest of the Prophets. But here the 
arrangement of the prophecies is so 
unchronological/ and the reader is 
carried out of the course by such fre- 
quent back eddies, that it is hard rightly 
to appreciate the onward movement 
and the true greatness of the book. 
But here in confused order we get the 
solemn voices, the warnings, and the 
forecasts which came to Jeremiah to guide 
his people through the awful passage 
of national dissolution and exile, and 
to assure them of the beneficent results 
which would be achieved by the chastise- 

^ Driver's Introduction to the Old Testafnent, p. 254. 


The third book, that of Ezeklel, Is 
a compact and distinct work of the 
prophet, who Hved and died in the land 
of exile. The editing of this book, 
accomplished probably by the prophet 
himself, was all that could be desired ; 
the only difficulty here is, as we have 
seen, that Ezekiel's text became injured 
in transcription before the period when 
the careful work of scribes fixed and 
stereotyped the text of the sacred 

The fourth book, that of Daniel, did 
not obtain a place in the Hebrew Canon 
until the second century B.C. There is 
nothing to indicate its authorship. It is 
the story of Daniel, containing reports of 
his visions, and speeches, and prayers, 
but probably written long after his 

The fifth Book is called the book of 
the Twelve, or in our common parlance 
the Minor Prophets. It is a collection 
of brief prophetic writings, some of them 
the noblest utterances of Hebrew pro- 



phecy, but arranged so perversely that 
their connection with each other, and 
with the four previous books is com- 
pletely lost. For example, Amos is the 
earlier contemporary of Hosea ; while 
Joel, who is inserted between Hosea and 
Amos, is probably the latest prophetic 
book we possess, with the exception of 
Daniel. We are therefore only misled if 
we imagine that the order of the Minor 
Prophets is any indication of date. 

If, then, we would understand the 
message of Hebrew prophecy, and 
especially if we would trace an idea 
such as the missionary intention, which 
widened and clarified with the progress 
of time, it is evident that we must 
become familiar with the order and with 
the circumstances of the several pro- 
phecies. It is not of course necessary 
that the books in our English Bible 
should be broken up and re-arranged ; 
but it is necessary that the missionary 
student should re-arrange the material 
for himself, and should so be able to 



estimate the development and expan- 
sion of the missionary idea in the Pro- 
phets. And, it may be observed, so 
regular is the growth of that idea that 
it may be taken as one of the means of 
detectinor the date of an unknown 
prophecy ; for it may be assumed that 
the more clearly a prophet sees the 
missionary significance of Israel's re- 
ligion, the nearer he has come to the 
time and the appearing of Christ. 

Let us attempt now in a general way 
to block out our prophetic literature as 
it may be most conveniently studied for 
the purpose which we have in view. 
We must not enter into details, and 
details are comparatively unimportant 
if only we can succeed in tracing the 
main lines of prophetic teaching. Our 
earliest written prophets are Amos and 
Hosea. Their ministry was directed 
to the northern kingdom, and their 
message, if we may put them together, 
was the announcement of the approach- 
ing Assyrian conquest, as the punish- 



ment for the sins of Samaria, the capital, 
and of Bethel, the royal sanctuary. 
But that message, clearly enough in 
Amos and yet more clearly in Hosea, 
was one of promise and of hope ; the 
Lord loved Israel, and therefore punished 
him, andafter the punishment would come 
a glorious restoration. This was the 
first note of the Prophets whose writings 
have come down to us, hardly a mis- 
sionary note, except in the sense that 
the ethical demands of God and the 
unchanging love of God to His people 
are the only sure foundations of a uni- 
versal religion, and therefore Israel was 
prepared for a spiritual expansion by 
the Prophets, who were able to teach 
such a lesson. 

Following closely on these two 
prophets of the northern kingdom come 
the two prophets of the southern king- 
dom, Micah and Isaiah. As Samaria 
fell under the assault of the Assyrian, 
Micah and Isaiah were commissioned to 
denounce the oppression, the immo- 



rality, and the corrupt worship of the 
southern kingdom, which deserved a 
similar fate. But Jerusalem was not to 
fall before the Assyrian ; Hezekiah was, 
as the Assyrian annals tell, caged up in 
Jerusalem, and the cities of Judah were 
wasted. But the invading host with- 
drew, and the kingdom of Judah stood 
for more than a century longer. It was 
this deliverance of Zion which gave to 
Isaiah, the prophet of the capital, and 
to Micah, the prophet of the country- 
side, their glorious visions of a New 
Jerusalem and of the nations of the 
earth coming up to her as to the city of 
God. They saw a holier King upon 
the throne, and they recognised that 
holiness would exalt a regenerated nation, 
and men would be united in a worship 
of God, who would demand no longer 
ritual services but justice and mercy 
and a humble walk with Him. Thus in 
the writings of Isaiah and Micah, the 
ethical demand of prophecy and the 
glorious deliverance of Jerusalem make 



the first glowing pictures of a Messias 
exercising a moral and spiritual sway 
over the whole of mankind. And as 
Isaiah had a vivid Imagination and a 
gift of poetic speech which place him 
among the greatest writers of all time, 
the missionary idea which he shared 
with his contemporary Micah was not 
only engrained In the religion of Israel, 
but made a possession of mankind for 

After these four great prophets of 
the eighth century B.C., there was a long 
interval, and then when the transitory 
reformation of Joslah had failed, and 
the doom of Judah was impending, the 
greatest of Hebrew prophets, Jeremiah, 
appeared (621-586 B.c.).^ His contem- 
porary Zephanlah may have been hardly 
less than he, but we possess but little 
of his work ; fortunately, Jeremiah has 
come down to us In a large body of his 
oracles, and the man and his message 

1 The last three chapters of Zechariah belong to 
this period, if not to Jeremiah himself. 



are among the greatest treasures of our 
religion. His was the unpopular task 
of announcing the certain fall of Jeru- 
salem, and commanding the king and 
his people to yield to Nebuchadnezzar. 
A patriot of the noblest type, he had to 
appear to his contemporaries as a traitor. 
But, on the other hand, he in conjunction 
with Zephaniah had the joy of declaring 
the unchanging love of God : the Cap- 
tivity was an appointed school of dis- 
cipline ; the return was certain ; the 
nation that should return would be a 
chosen people, indeed, united to God 
by a new and spiritual covenant. 
Jeremiah knew that a Branch would 
spring forth, a Branch of Righteousness, 
and that a holy ruler of a regenerated 
people would bless and save mankind. 
Thus through the work of great and 
inspired prophets, the terrible entrance 
into captivity became like the valley of 
Achor, a door of hope ; and all the 
qualities and principles which would 
enable Judaism to widen out into a 



religion for the world were secured in 
the awful humiliation and anguish of 
the Exile. 

During those years of the Exile, much 
of the noblest work of Hebrew prophecy 
was produced ; how much we do not 
see, owing to the bad editing of the 
books. The one indubitable work of 
the Exile is the Book of Ezekiel. Its 
burden may be summed up in a sentence : 
the nation, which is like the bleached 
bones of a fallen army, shall rise again 
into life ; the Temple, which is in ruins, 
shall be restored and cleansed ; a holy 
people, a priestly nation, shall pour out 
blessings over the world, and that omni- 
present God who appeared in vision by 
the river Chebar, the God who utters the 
great phrase, ''all souls are Mine," will 
through His holy people claim all souls, 
and show that they are His. Thus 
when the man and the situation are 
realised, the Book of Ezekiel becomes a 
priceless passage of missionary litera- 



But still more instructive and attrac- 
tive is that marvellous prophecy which, 
for reasons unknown to us, was incorpo- 
rated in the Book of Isaiah.^ This was 
without question the greatest utterance 
of the Exile period. The gist of it is 
this : Israel, chastened and disciplined, 
reduced to a mere remnant in the Cap- 
tivity, is seen by the Prophet as the 
suffering servant of God. By His suffer- 
ings through the scorn of men, and the 
malignity which numbers him with male- 
factors, this servant of God is to draw 
the Gentiles to Him. We all know 
how the impassioned delineation of this 
mystical Israel becomes the clearest 
prophecy in the Old Testament of the 
suffering Messias, but we may also 
discover how the glowing pictures of 
the ransomed Israel drawing the Gentiles 
to God, become the clearest prophecy 
of the missionary scope of Christianity. 
It is possibly the str'king missionary 
note in this unknown writer of the 

^ Driver's Introduction to the Old Testament^ p. 217. 


Exile that led the Jewish editors to 
include his writings in the Book of 
Isaiah, but the significance of that book 
is only apprehended when it is seen 
that the prophecies contained in it 
extend over 200 years, and represent the 
magnificent development of Isaiah's 
original ideas into the world-wide reach 
of Israel's mission, which was conceived 
in the Exile. 

The days of Zerubbabel and the return 
from exile produced two prophets, 
Haggai and Zechariah, whose function 
it was to encourage the building of the 
Temple and to re-establish the forlorn 
community in Jerusalem. It may be 
noticed in passing that the last three 
chapters of the Book of Zechariah stand 
where they do by mistake ; instead of 
the rebuilding of Jerusalem, with which 
Zechariah was concerned, they announce 
the destruction of Jerusalem, and the 
subsequent glorious recovery by the 
coming of the Branch, quite in the spirit 
of Jeremiah ; and indeed a passage 



from chapter eleven is quoted by St 
Matthew (xxvii. 9), as a prophecy of 
' Jeremy the prophet.' But placing these 
last three chapters with Jeremiah, and 
Zephaniah in the days before the Exile, 
we can study Haggai and Zechariah ch. 
i.-xi. together, and find in them manifold 
forecasts that the restored Temple and 
city were to have a greater glory than 
those which had been destroyed by 
Nebuchadnezzar, because from them 
would issue a religious truth which would 
reach far and wide over the world. 

The remaining seven books of the 
prophetic literature do not give us 
any distinct determinations of their 
dates ; three of them are brief and con- 
centrated denunciations of three powers 
that have harassed or oppressed Israel. 
Obadiah declares the destruction of 
Edom and the city of Selah , Nahum 
declares the ruin of Nineveh ; and 
Habakkuk declares the punishment of 
the Chaldeans who had brought de- 
struction to Judah and Jerusalem. 
K 145 


Considering the denunciatory character 
of these three prophecies, it is remark- 
able that each of them gives decisive 
hints of salvation, and that Habakkuk 
is the author of the phrase that is the 
charter of a world-wide religion, '* the 
just shall live by his faith." Malachi, 
which means *' my messenger," is a 
stirring cry from the days of the restored 
Temple, and seems to start the Jewish 
Church on the career which was to end 
in the coming of the Lord. Standing 
as it does at the end of the Old 
Testament, it looks out keenly to the 
New, and reminds us how the Law and 
the Prophets must all wait in expecta- 
tion for a fulfilment. 

But there are three prophetic writings 
which, oddly placed by the Jewish 
editors, seem from their internal evidence 
to belong to a still later period than 
that of Malachi. They stand midway 
between Malachi and the coming of 
Christ, and as we should expect, these 
three writings contain the clearest and 



most advanced views of the missionary 
purpose in Judaism, and give the 
plainest indications of the coming of 
Christianity that we find anywhere in 
the Old Testament. 

And when the new order begins the 
most significant references are made to 
these three latest books : Jonah is seen 
to be a prophecy of Christ's resurrection ; 
Daniel is the source from which Christ 
took His own self-designation of the 
Son of Man ; and Joel is the prophet of 
the day of Pentecost.^ The dates and 
the writers of these three books are 
unknown to us, but when they are placed 
at the end of Hebrew prophecy their 
missionary import is clear as the day. 
The fact that they are anonymous 

1 The reader will find in Hastings' Dictionary of the 
Bible under the three names, the best statement of 
the probable dates of these books. The tradition 
which attributes Jonah and Daniel to the two prophets 
who are the subjects of the books has been accepted 
without question, but when it is questioned it is found 
to be as untenable as the notion that the Books of 
Samuel were written by Samuel, or that the Book of 
Ruth was written by Ruth. 


seems to make them more like the voice 
of the Spirit in the Jewish Church. 
In Jonah the prophetic author tells a 
story of an old prophet in the days 
of Jeroboam II., the period when 
Assyria was threatening the existence 
of Israel. But the story states that 
the prophet was sent on a missionary 
journey to the terrible city of the 
Assyrians ; that he did all in his power 
to elude the duty, and at last, after 
bringing Nineveh to repentance, was 
indignant with God for His mercy to 
that vast heathen population. The 
writer of this story has gained a 
missionary point of view which was 
incredible to the earlier Israelites. 
Nahum mentions Nineveh only to over- 
whelm it with destruction ; the great 
Isaiah had a vision of Assyria and 
Egypt becoming with Israel, a third, 
the people of God (Isa. xiii. 24, 25); 
but this later writer actually sends a 
prophet of Israel on a missionary 
journey to the city that oppressed his 



people, and in this way introduces the 
idea that God has an equal concern for 
all nations, and that the real function 
of Israel is to preach the truth to man- 
kind, even to its enemies and oppressors.^ 
The Book of Joel differs from the 
older prophetic books in the fact that 
it is not a denunciation of the people's 
sins, but rather expresses the conscience 
and repentance of the people under the 
visitation of a great calamity. The 
writer encourages a general assembly 
to mourn over and seek deliverance 
from the locust hordes, but from this 
local situation he suddenly soars to the 
great vision of the Spirit poured out 
upon all flesh, and of salvation granted 
unto all who call upon the name of the 
Lord ; and though he seems to fall from 
this lofty standpoint and to gather the 
nations in the valley of judgment rather 
to be punished than to be saved, that 

1 Perhaps I may be allowed to refer to my own 
Commentary on Jonah in the Century Bible^ Messrs 
T. C. & E. C. Jack. 



clear and thrilling announcement of the 
Spirit's possessing men and women of 
all ranks, gives to his little book a 
unique place in the history of the 
Kingdom of God, and a perpetual value 
in the prosecution of that missionary- 
enterprise which it so clearly foretold. 

The Book of Daniel stands by itself 
in the Old Testament, and belongs 
rather to the apocalyptic than to the 
prophetic type of literature ; but its value 
from the missionary point of view is 
overwhelming. For whatever may be 
the minute interpretation of the times 
and seasons, the succession of events 
and the coming of Messias, there are 
two lessons which are indisputable in 
its pages : the first object of the book 
is to show that the children of God in 
the face of heathen powers are secured 
against all dangers, and may convert the 
heathen, even great potentates, to God. 
The history of missions is a commentary 
on the early chapters of the book, and 
works like the autobiography of John 



Paton and the life of James Chalmers 
show how God is able to protect His 
servants from the wrath of man in the 
prosecution of their missionary labours. 
But the second object of the Book of 
Daniel is to show in a series of symbolic 
visions, how the great kingdoms and 
empires of the earth must pass away 
and be finally replaced by the Kingdom 
of God. And it is the peculiar char- 
acteristic of this book, to associate with 
this triumph of the divine purpose the 
personal effort of individual workers 
like Daniel himself; not only is he to 
stand in his lot in the end of the days, 
but all who are wise and turn men to 
righteousness are to be clothed with an 
eternal glory. Thus the latest book of 
the Old Testament becomes the most 
definite and distinct in its missionary 
teaching, and forms a remarkable link 
between the old order of the Prophets 
and the new Kingdom which they were 
sent to foretell. 

From this brief summary and sug- 


gested re-arrangement of the prophetic 
writings, it will be seen in how many 
ways the prophetic purpose worked 
towards a missionary faith, and how 
clearly it was an increasing purpose, 
which gathered distinctness and force 
as the ages rolled on, and the coming 
oi Christ drew near.^ 

^ Re-arrangement of prophetic writings — 
(i.) Amos, Hosea, 1 735.700 

Isaiah, Micah. / 
(ii.) Zephaniah, Jeremiah, 1 530.86 B.C. 

Zechariah, chaps, xii.-xiv. / 
(iii.) Ezekiel, Isaiah xl.-lxvi. The Exile, 570-458 

(iv.) Haggai, Zechariah. The Return from Exile, 
522 B.C. 
/ (v.) The Three Denunciations, undated : 
Obadiah of Edom, Nahum of Nineveh, 
Habakkuk of Babylon, 
(vi.) Malachi, perhaps 432 B.C. 
Jonah, Joel, later, 
Daniel, perhaps in the second century B.C. 





Nowhere does the Gospel as a message 
for the whole world strike its root more 
decisively into the past than in the mis- 
cellaneous writings of the Old Testa- 
ment. And this is no matter of surprise 
when one observes that these writ- 
ings contain the choicest specimens of 
the imaginative and the philosophical 
thought of the elect people. It is after 
all not so much in the law book, or the 
histories, or the sermons of a nation that 
its heart most fully reveals itself; the 
storyteller, the poet, and the thinker 
give expression to the spontaneous feel- 
ings and aspirations of a people. It 
may be an exaggeration to say that he 
who writes the national songs is more 



important than the legislator ; but there 
can be no question that to find the real 
trend of an age or of a people you must 
examine the imaginative side of its life 
and its systematic thought as they find 
utterance through men of genius. If, for 
example, we wished to sum up the nine- 
teenth century in England, we should 
feel that no parliamentary history, and 
no lesfislative achievements, and not 
even the varieties of religious belief 
would take us so surely to the heart of 
the question, as the writings of Words- 
worth and Carlyle, of Browning and 
Ruskin, of Matthew Arnold and 
Herbert Spencer. It is the great 
function of the imagination to get at 
the deeper, the more general, and the 
more permanent truths of the time, 
while it is the function of philo- 
sophic thought to crystallise the truth 
which is held in solution by ordinary 
minds. If, then, we would understand 
the real drift of Israel's life and the 
service which it was to render to man- 



kind, we must make a careful study of 
such pieces of literature, imaginative and 
philosophical, as have come down to us. 
And though the volume of these frag- 
ments is small in bulk, it is rich in 
quality, and we may safely say that no 
nation was ever more clearly revealed 
and no tract of time is more distinctly 
marked out than the Jewish people over 
the centuries from David to Christ in 
the poetry and other writings which are 
in our hands. 

First of all we have several specimens 
of imaginative work in idyllic story and 
drama ; then we have works of senten- 
tious wisdom which in Israel took the 
place of philosophy ; and finally we have 
a great collection of poetry which is all 
in the deepest sense religious. 

Even in the briefest survey of these 
works it becomes plain how the heart 
of this people, notwithstanding its intense 
naturalism, had a meaning and a message 
for all the world. This broad fact 
might suffice to prove the point : we, a 



Western race, after centuries of progress, 
with great poets and great thinkers of 
our own, find an undying charm in the 
stories, derive practical guidance from 
the wisdom, and express our deepest 
religious emotions in the poetry, of that 
old Semitic race. If those writings are 
suitable for the Occident and for the 
twentieth century, there is reason to 
think they have an equal application to 
all countries and to all times. 

The matchless stories of the Old 
Testament have been already glanced 
at in surveying the Law, and the history 
and some of the finest of them occur in 
the prophetic books, e.g., Jonah and 
Daniel, but there are some others which 
stand by themselves. The story of 
Ruth is one of the most perfect idylls in 
literature, but found in the work of 
Hebrew writers it is as surprising as it 
is beautiful. The Law as we have it 
forbids a Moabite to enter into the 
congregation of Israel ; but the writer 
of this little book lavishes his tender- 



ness on the description of a Moabite 
woman, and delights to tell how she 
became an immediate ancestress of 
Israel's greatest King. And this wide 
outlook of the imaginative element in 
Israel appears again in the Book of Job, 
where the writer, desiring to portray a 
character of lofty excellence and fault- 
less piety, does not select one of his own 
nationality, but draws the magnificent 
picture of Job in the land of Uz.^ The 
more intensely national the Judaistic 
feeling became after the Captivity, the 
more impressive appears this movement 
of the Spirit of God in the imaginative 
writers. They were kept constantly 
aware that God does not leave Himself 
without a witness in any nation, and 
that what is truth for them is truth for 
all mankind. Foolish indeed would he 
be who should discredit these nobler 
lessons because they are presented in 

^ Prof. A. B. Davidson's book on Job will show the 
reader the point of view from which the book is here 



works of the imagination, since it is the 
peculiar gift of the imagination to invest , 
the legalism and the exactitude of moral 
truth with the tender atmosphere of the 

One of these stories, the Book of 
Esther, is, it is true, devoid of missionary- 
meaning ; it is intensely nationalistic, 
and there the Jew is seen in his most 
forbidding aspect, seeking not to convert 
the heathen, but only to wreak on them 
vengeance for an intended assault ; but 
how remarkable it is that this is the 
only book of the Bible in which the 
name of God does not occur ! When 
we are thinking of the heathen, not to 
bless and to save them, but only to visit 
them with cruelties like their own, we 
have no right to use the name of God, 
who is the God of all nations, and, as we 
now know, the Father of all mankind. 

The Book of Job^ is a transition, in 

^ This book in a remarkable way combines in itself 
the three elements of story, philosophy, and poetry, 
which we are now surveying. 

I 60 


the form of a dramatic dialogue, from 
the stories to the philosophy of the Old 
Testament ; Proverbs and Ecclesiastes 
within the Canon, and Ecclesiasticus 
and the Book of Wisdom in the 
Apocrypha, belong to the same class of 
literature. The Hebrew thinkers did 
not, like the Greeks, construct long and 
connected arguments ; they expressed 
their thoughts rather in brief sentences, 
often in an antithetical form or in metrical 
compositions, which are not distinguish- 
able from poetry. These Wisdom books 
are remarkable for their complete detach- 
ment from the Law and from the history 
of Israel. The reflections which they 
contain, and the conclusions which 
they reach, are not only free from a 
national bias, but frequently seem to run 
counter to the acknowledged orthodoxy. 
They are as suitable to one race as to 
another, and their cosmopolitanism is 
another revelation of that element in 
Israel which was meant, not for a sect or 
a party but for mankind. Thus in the 
L i6i 


Book of Job the problem of suffering is 
discussed, and, against the current notion 
that suffering is the reward of iniquity, 
is asserted the noble truth that it is 
sometimes the trial of righteousness. 
And if the book was produced in the 
Captivity, and J ob, afflicted and despoiled, 
but afterwards restored and enriched, is 
the symbol of the whole nation passing 
through such an experience, the teaching 
links itself on to that of the Prophets, 
who taught that in the furnace of afflic- 
tion the nation was prepared to discharge 
its great service to the world. 

The Bookof Ecclesiastes is so intensely 
and pathetically human that it will never 
be out of date. Renan, one of the 
acutest literary critics of the nineteenth 
century, confessed that it was his 
favourite work in Hebrew literature. 
It is the weary sigh of worldly wisdom, 
the confession of a disillusionised 
humanity, when every source of interest 
and of pleasure has been tried, that this 
world is but vanity. And from the 



apparent pessimism of this judgment we 
are driven to the right conclusion, that in 
rehgion and in divine revelation is to be 
found the only possible explanation of 
life. To compare this pessimism of the 
Jewish thinker, leading to God, with the 
similar pessimism of the Persian poet, 
Omar Khayyam, leading only to self- 
indulgence, is to gain a genuine view of 
the missionary impulse of Jewish thought. 
No one can look at life steadily and 
judge it dispassionately, without recog- 
nising the melancholy truth of Eccles- 
iastes ; and that exquisite passage which 
describes in tender imagery the last 
scene of all in every human life, will 
always haunt the imagination like 
Richard the Second's speech or like Gray's 
" Elegy " ; but the impressive application 
which the Preacher makes of his world- 
weary discourse is one of which all the 
world stands in need. If this book stood 
alone it could hardly serve as a message 
of salvation, but forming, as it does, only 
an aspect of the biblical literature, it 



directs the reader to the other parts in 
order to learn what is the meaning of 
the fear of God and what are His com- 
mandments, the keeping of which is the 
whole duty of man. 

The Book of Proverbs is a mine of 
wealth, and the variety of its contents 
defies an attempt at a brief summary. 
But the dominating note which really 
sounds through all these scattered 
observations on human life is that which 
is sounded most clearly in chap. viii. 
There wisdom is personified and speaks 
as a voice from heaven, her beautiful 
claim is that she was the assessor of 
God in the creation of the world, and 
that even from the beginning her de- 
lights were with the sons of men. As 
an abstraction she seems to anticipate a 
concrete reality, and almost irresistibly 
we place her language in the lips of 
Christ, that Divine Being who was with 
God from the beginning, and in whose 
image man was made. In this way the 
wisdom of the Old Testament anticipates 



the revelation of Christianity, and 
acquires a practical missionary bearing. 
The systems of philosophy, whether 
ancient or modern, have littleproselytising 
power, '' they have their day and cease 
to be." Even Aristotle, who dominated 
human thought for 1500 years, has be- 
come obsolete before he became mis- 
sionary. And it would raise a smile to 
speak of the philosophy of Kant going 
out to convert the heathen. It was the 
enthusiastic suggestion of Auguste Comte, 
that Positivist missionaries might break 
the virgin soil of Africa, and Instruct 
the unsophisticated negroes In the re- 
ligion of humanity ; but the Positivist 
system Is growing antiquated before 
these missionaries have appeared. On 
the other hand the wisdom of the 
Hebrews Is being translated into every 
language under heaven, and disseminated 
among races that are emerging from 
barbarism, and among ancient civilisa- 
tions w^hlch have a wisdom of their own. 
The reason Is, If we may put It In a 



sentence, that that wisdom emerged 
into Christ, and Christ was made of 
God wisdom unto the world. 

A study of those instructive books 
Ecclesiasticus and the Wisdom of Solo- 
mon, which were apparently excluded 
from the Canon, only because they were 
written in Greek instead of Hebrew, will 
strikingly confirm the missionary import of 
the Old Testament Wisdom Literature.^ 

Turning now to the poetry of the Old 
Testament outside of the Psalter, we 
find two poems, one a love song of 
unsurpassed melody and charm, the other 
a series of dirges over the fall of Jeru- 
salem ; but the Song of Solomon and 
Lamentations only yield anything to our 
present purpose, by means of an allegoris- 

^ E.g. The second chapter of Wisdom gives a 
description of the persecuted righteous man as the 
Son of God, which might be a portrait of Christ. In 
Ecclesiasticus we get such a significant utterance, 
" Forget not the good offices of thy surety, for he hath 
given his life for thee" (ch. xxix. 15) ; and we have the 
great missionary prayer, " Let them (the nations) know 
Thee, as we also have known Thee, that there is no 
God, but only Thou, O God." (ch. xxxvi. 5.) 



ing interpretation which is coming to be 
more and more questionable as a means of 
Scripture exegesis. The Psalter, on the 
other hand, in more ways than one, is rich 
in missionary meaning. It is said that 
in the service of the Jewish synagogue 
praise predominates over prayer, and 
that is no wonder, considering that the 
Psalter is the liturgy ; on the other 
hand, it is said that intercession for the 
peoples beyond Israel is almost entirely 
wanting, and that is very strange, be- 
cause the Psalter, as we read it, seems 
to embrace the world. If Israel is the 
immediate subject and if Jewish forms of 
expression prevail, yet we who have the 
New Testament in our hands can never 
read the Psalms without seeing Christ in 
the King, and the world-wide community 
of God in Israel. We thank and bless 
Judaism for giving us the Psalter, just 
as the world may thank England for 
giving it Shakespeare ; but Shakespeare 
and the Psalter, once given, are the 
property not of a nation but of the world. 



And indeed the Psalter far more than 
Shakespeare belongs to mankind, for 
while that incomparable English of the 
Elizabethan drama defies translation 
into any other language, no poetry ever 
written is so translatable as the Psalms ; 
they seem to be written in a universal 
tongue, and, except where the meaning 
of the original is obscure, there is no 
difficulty in rendering them poetically 
into any language under heaven. And 
as the language is plain, so the thought 
and the feeling are those of man as such. 
James Gilmour, a solitary missionary in 
Mongolia, fills his journals and letters 
with gratitude for the Psalms ; he found 
them equal to all his needs and the ex- 
pression of all his singular situations. 
He could, he said, launch his canoe at 
any time upon that stream, and be 
carried whither he would go. Any man 
anywhere can make the same discovery. 
The hymn-book or the poetry of the 
most particularistic nation in the world 
is found to be that which meets the 

1 68 


universal need. The hymns of the 
Veda or the Homeric hymns can be 
read for their Hterary interest, but what 
people outside India would use in wor- 
ship the one, or what people anywhere 
would use in worship the other ? Yet 
these Hebrew Psalms are used wherever 
Christianity goes, and they have no 
small share in carrying it into the utter- 
most parts of the earth. There can be 
no hesitation in recognising the super- 
natural cause of this remarkable fact. 
Whoever were the human authors of 
the Psalms, the real author was the 
Spirit of God. No human poet and 
no series of poets could have produced 
a collection capable of accomplishing 
such results as this has accomplished. 
Place any of these Psalms side by side 
with ordinary poetry, as Mr Henley has 
done in his splendid selection of English 
lyrics, and you at once become aware 
on what a different plane they move, 
what a different note they strike, and 
what a more distant goal they aim at. 



If we try more particularly to define 
this universal element in the Psalms, 
we find that we are involved in just the 
difficulties which beset every attempt to 
analyse great poetry. The effects are 
produced b)^ expedients so simple and 
obvious, that under analysis they are 
liable to disappear. But there is one 
thing which strikes the reader of the 
Psalter at once, for the second Psalm 
already gives it full expression, and that 
is the constant anticipation of a King 
that shall reign in righteousness, and 
of a Kingdom that shall reach to the 
uttermost ends of the earth. This theme 
is perpetually recurring ; the language 
used might be suggested by some of the 
nobler passages in the history of the 
Monarchy, by the times of David and 
Solomon, or by the pious efforts of 
Josiah or Hezekiah. But the historical 
events are utterly inadequate to the 
splendid and spiritual delineations of 
the poets. The King of whom they 
sing is more God than man, and the 



dominion which is promised to Him is 
humanity rather than Israel. Of course 
the national colouring is there, and the 
flights of fancy are sometimes brought 
down rather suddenly to concrete reali- 
ties, before the poet's eye ; but as we 
put together the catena of these Psalms 
touching the King and the Kingdom, 
we know that we are dealing with a 
great missionary thought, which admits 
of no limitation short of humanity as a 
whole. He must be a very partial and 
blinded critic who, in reading a noble 
literature, misses the great trend of its 
thought, and is staggered by elements 
which seem contradictory to it. Human 
expression cannot remain on its highest 
elevation continually, and the noblest 
visions fade from time to time, or are 
marred by spots of blindness ; it is 
therefore a narrow and misguided judg- 
ment, which would discredit the noble 
anticipations of the universal reign of 
peace and equity which abound in the 
Psalms, because now and then a poet, 



stung by the treachery of friends, or 
smarting under the cruelties and oppres- 
sion of foes, breaks out into fierce and 
unhallowed imprecations. These im- 
precations are not the utterance of the 
Spirit of God, but the Spirit of God 
allows them to stand as the ejacula- 
tions of human hearts ; for it is the very 
essence of poetry that the poet should 
be permitted to utter himself, and the 
inspiration which visits him will always 
be seen side by side with the frailty and 
imperfection of his own personality. 

But the missionary character of the 
Psalter lies not only in its forecast of 
the Messianic kingdom, but much more 
in the fulness, the richness, and the 
beauty with which it delineates both the 
deepest experiences and the most tran- 
sient moods of the human soul in its 
relation with God. Nothing important 
seems to be left out. Righteousness is 
described in full detail, and the blessed- 
ness of the righteous is celebrated with 
lyrical joy. The contrition of the heart 



that has sinned, the passionate cry for 
pardon, the bliss of being forgiven, the 
prayer for the Spirit to uphold, as well 
as to cleanse, run through the Psalter 
from beginning to end. The human 
soul that is speaking is one that has 
seen affliction, is frequently overwhelmed, 
and cleaves to the dust ; but there is a 
present help, there is God who loves, 
and pities, and saves. Always in every 
Psalm there is God ; the poet speaks 
of His glory. His majesty, His mani- 
festations in nature, the law He has 
given, the worship of His house. His 
constant oversight of human affairs ; 
but above all he speaks of God as a 
friend and even a lover, as a refuge, 
as a dwelling-place, as an overshadowing 
presence. Not infrequently, as the singer 
speaks to God, God's voice is heard in 
reply, and the poem becomes a dialogue 
between God and man. The wonder 
and the comfort and the joy of it are 
unspeakable ; as the intercourse goes 
on, earthly troubles fade away, earthly 



enemies are overcome, and even death, 
which at first sight seems to the singer 
the cessation of being, and an everlasting 
silence, is, like other foes, vanquished in 
the assurance, *' Thou wilt not leave my 
soul in hell, neither wilt Thou suffer 
Thy holy one to see corruption. Thou 
wilt show me the path of life : in Thy 
presence is fulness of joy ; at Thy right 
hand there are pleasures for evermore." 

And thus as the Psalter goes on, 
the sound of praise increases, until the 
closing Psalms are one prolonged Halle- 
luiah Chorus. It is as if we had 
travelled through all the changing ex- 
periences of a human life, and the man 
who in the first Psalm is blessed because 
he walks in the way of the Lord, is in 
the last Psalm climbing the steps of 
the spiritual city, and joining in the 
praises which surround the throne. 

And what is so remarkable is this, 
that though these Psalms are for the 
most part composed expressly for use 
in the Temple worship, the merely ritual 



part of that worship, which was to pass 
away, is hardly referred to at all, while 
the spiritual realities which it symbolised 
seem to take its place. The keynote of 
the whole collection is, ** Sacrifices and 
offerings Thou wouldest not, then said I, 
Lo, I come, I delight to do Thy will, O 
God ; the sacrifices of God are a broken 
spirit, a broken and a contrite heart 
Thou wilt not despise." Is it that 
poetry always spurns ritual, and finds 
its breath only in the open heavens of 
the spirit ? Is it that the Psalmists were 
at war with the priests and the Scribes 
of the national religion ? Is it that the 
Psalter must be set over against that 
rigid and legalistic system out of which 
it sprang ? Of this there is no indica- 
tion ; such a judgment would be totally 
unjustified. But rather the inspired 
poets give the breath and inner meaning 
of the national institutions, that universal 
and eternal element which clothed itself 
for a time in the forms and methods of 
the tabernacle and the Temple, but 



broke away from the old system 
when Its day was over, to be clothed 
upon with the tabernacle from heaven 
with that universal and holy religion 
which was suitable to the whole world. 

It would have been inconceivable 
beforehand how hymns could have been 
written in Judaism, to be sung in 
Christendom ; how the songs of the 
Temple, which was to be destroyed, 
could be suitable to the Temple not 
made with hands ; how a community 
which was thinking only of its exclusive 
privileges and of its superiority to the 
other nations of the world, could uncon- 
sciously forecast a holy King, to whom 
all the nations of the heathen should be 
given, and compose the grateful praises 
In which a ransomed humanity w^ould 
join. But that inconceivable possibility 
is precisely the miracle which is realised 
in the Psalms, and the missionary 
significance of It must be plain as soon 
as it is pointed out. 






After this review of the biblical litera- 
ture, it may be well to reiterate what 
was stated beforehand. We have seen 
the necessity of treating the New Testa- 
ment apart, and of beginning with it as 
the starting-point of missionary study. 
The message we have to deliver to the 
world is the New Testament, and its 
essentially missionary character is in- 
juriously obscured when it is tacked on 
as a pendant to the far larger and more 
varied literature of the Old Testament. 
The New Testament must be not only 
separated, but sharply distinguished, 
from the Old. It must be recognised as 
a missionary work in a sense in which 
the Old could not be. The difficulty 
of studying the Bible for missionary 



purposes has chiefly arisen from not 
realising this obvious truth. If Christ 
had come preaching the Old Testament 
there would have been no Gospel or 
good news ; if He had insisted on the 
Jewish Law there would have been no 
Sermonon the Mount ; if He had ratified 
the sacrifice of the bulls and the goats, 
He would not have offered Himself once 
for all as the sacrifice for the sins of the 
world. If the Apostles had gone out 
weighted with the Old Testament Scrip- 
tures, commissioned to preach them 
and not the crucified and risen Christ, it 
is evident that they would not have 
turned the world upside down. The 
first condition therefore of rightly using 
the Bible for missionary purposes, is to 
put the New Testament in its right place 
at the front, and not to weaken its effect 
by improperly mixing it with the Old. 
When that is done it stands out — so we 
have seen — as an essentially and ab- 
solutely missionary book ; it is from 
first to last the announcement of a truth 

1 80 


which from the nature of the case must 
be announced to the world ; it is the 
record of missionaries, the sole object 
of which is to engage all who hear to 
become missionaries themselves. To 
weaken its missionary meaning is to 
neutralise its whole work ; and to ignore 
its missionary command is to reduce 
the whole book to an absurdity. It is 
not that here and there are missionary 
texts, injunctions, or suggestions, and 
that a careful student might painfully 
extract from certain proof-texts a defence 
of missionary effort ; but it is that the 
whole book is a clear, ringing, and 
everlasting missionary injunction. The 
angel flies abroad through the heavens 
having the everlasting Gospel to preach ; 
it is expressly directed to every human 
soul, and on every human soul that hears 
it is laid the obligation of passing it on 
to the rest. How readers of the New 
Testament can ever have read it without 
realising this, its essential characteristic, 
is a wonder that belongs to the mystery 



of iniquity. It is as if the dark spirit 
that would keep the world in dark- 
ness, unable to blot out the everlasting 
Gospel, had succeeded in casting a veil 
over the eyes that read it, or had hidden 
it away in the mass of religious usage, 
tradition, and literature, until its dis- 
tinctive character was obscured. Bring 
the New Testament out, pull down the 
musty buildings which are built around 
it, like the houses which once obscured 
Antwerp Cathedral, then let the winds 
of criticism blow around it and through 
it as they will : you can never prevent 
it from being God's great missionary 
message to the world, or from claiming 
that those who hear it should go out 
as His messengers, their lips touched 
with a coal from His altar. But we 
have seen that when the New Testa- 
ment is placed in the forefront, we 
are able to strike back into the older 
literature with very rich results. Not 
only do we there find the roots of the 
missionary religion, but at every point of 



every fibre we discover prognostications 
of the coming truth. The Law indicates 
its intention by the fact that Moses 
foretold a Prophet like unto himself, to 
whom the hopes of the people were 
always to be directed ; the history in- 
dicated its goal from its starting-point, 
for the father of the race was assured 
that in his seed all the families of the 
earth should be blessed ; the Prophets, 
apparently absorbed in the instruction 
and chastisement of Israel, were irresist- 
ibly anticipating a spiritual Israel as 
wide as the world ; and the poets after 
their kind dived into the depths of the 
soul and dipped into the future, with 
the result that all men and all times 
were brought under their view. And 
when we take the Christian Gospel with 
its world-wide scope as the key to un- 
lock the treasures of the Old Testament, 
we find that everywhere, under the thin 
veils of time and circumstance, the truths 
which justify the missionary impulse were 
present. It is the strange character- 



istic of the Bible that a unity pervades it 
which makes its several parts interpret one 
another, and displays the same truths with 
more or less completeness under differ- 
ing forms. Thus, when the principles 
of interpretation which have occupied 
our attention are sufficiently understood, 
and we have learnt to trace the lines of 
historical and spiritual development 
through the whole, arranging the parts 
chronologically, in order to illustrate it 
we can take up the Bible where we will, 
and read on every page from Genesis 
to Revelation the missionary purpose. 

The opening chapters of Genesis, for 
example, are very significant ; the very 
first words, '* In the beginning God 
created the heavens and the earth," 
immediately strike the note of a uni- 
versal religion. And now by the de- 
cipherment of the clay tablets from 
Babylonia we are able to set the stories 
of the Creation and of the Deluge side by 
side with the versions of these stories 
that were current in the Semitic world, 



and the effect of the comparison Is 
overpowering. In place of the mythic 
elements, monsters and dragons, and 
warring gods, there is the creative fiat 
of the Divine Will, and the process of 
creation Is given In such an order that 
though poetic in form, it harmonises 
with all that science can tell of the 
origin and growth of things. Again, 
the significant story of Adam and the 
Fall keeps before the mind the unity 
and solidarity of humanity ; and as in 
Adam all die, so Immediately comes the 
promise of a victor and a victory over 
sin applying to the whole human race. 
The Babylonian story of Ghisdubar bears 
so many points of resemblance to the 
story of Noah and the Flood that the 
complete difference in the points of view 
is the more impressive ; the Babylonian 
story Is an epic, a literary production, 
aiming at no moral or religious result, 
but the story of Noah Insists on the 
fact that men are one In punishment 
and in redemption, and spreads the 



bow of promise across the earth to 
remind them of their common hope. 
These early chapters of Genesis give 
us the completest view of the human 
family, branching out into various 
races and nations that we anywhere 
obtain ; and the conclusion is irresistible, 
that a religious book which begins with 
the creation of man, and surveys his 
spread over the globe, must contain the 
truths which will bring together the 
scattered races, and make them one in 
their final development as they were one 
at the beginning in the intention of the 
Creator. And so we may follow the 
Bible through, book by book, and almost 
chapter by chapter, finding the same 
idea impressed on every page or push- 
ing up from beneath the surface, like 
the young corn in the furrows. As, 
rightly understood, all the Scriptures 
speak of Christ, so they all are burdened 
with His world-wide thought for the 
redemption of the world, and impel the 
devout and intelligent student to take 



some part in extending the message to 
those who have not heard it.^ 

There are two ways by which mission- 
ary zeal is created and maintained : one, 
the study of the missionary facts, and 
the other the study of the Bible as 
the missionary book. Each method 
is indispensable. To know the Bible 
without knowing the efforts which are 
being made to spread the truth is to 
miss the most valuable of all commen- 
taries upon Scripture ; and commentators 
who ignore the work of missions, as 
unfortunately many of them do, make 
of the Bible a hortus siccus, because they 
lose the sense that it is an organism 
still living and at work. To trace the 
progress of the Gospel among savage 

1 It will be remembered how St Paul in Romans xv. 
cites passages from the Old Testament to show that 
the Gentiles would be included in the Kingdom of 
God. It is striking that his four citations are taken 
from the four sections into which we have divided 
the Old Testament literature. Thus, incidentally, he 
shows how the Law, the History, the Prophets, and 
the Psalms, pre-figure the missionary truth. 



races or in ancient civilisation, gives 
new life and meaning to the New Testa- 
ment ; ^ the experiences of the Apostles 
are repeated, their difficulties and their 
victories, their sufferings and their 
miracles, are seen to be incident to the 
progress of the Gospel in all times. 
But the study of modern missions 
would be barren, apart from a study of 
the Bible, which reveals their meaning 
and gives them their authority. Unless 
they are seen to be the necessary out- 
come of that book, which we regard as 
God's supreme Word to the world, and 
unless the reading of that book is con- 
ducted in such a way that its whole 
burden seems to be, " Go ye into all the 
world, and preach the gospel to every 
creature," the missionary enterprise must 
appear as an arbitrary, self-chosen diver- 
sion, a work of supererogation which, 

1 Mrs Howard Taylor's Pastor Hsi, for example, 
is an amazing commentary on the Gospel narrative, 
showing how the work of Christ is reproduced in 
China at the end of the nineteenth century. 

1 88 


emanating from man rather than from 
God, has within it no assurance or 
promise of success. 

It is in the hope that Bible students 
may be enabled to intelligently discern 
the missionary purpose ingrained in the 
Scriptures, and to feel the enthusiasm 
which comes from seeing the great pur- 
pose of God developed through long ages 
of history and of religious life, that the fore- 
going pages have been written. No book 
on the study of Scripture can supersede 
that study, but it is sometimes given to 
even the simplest writer to send his 
reader to the Bible with new zest, to 
discover some of the inexhaustible 
treasures which are stored up in it. 
And if there are some Bible students 
who fancy that the more modern methods 
of handling Scripture are a ruthless 
desecration of the Ark of the Covenant, 
I trust that they may be convinced by 
some things which are here written, 
that the missionary purpose of the 
Bible at any rate is not likely to be 



obscured by the growing practice of 
interpreting the book on the same prin- 
ciples that are appHed to other literature. 

" Truth is fair, shall we forego it, 
Shall we cry right for a wrong ? 
God Himself is the best poet, 
And the Real is His song." 



Abbott, Dr, 91 
Abraham, no 
Acts of the Apostles, 63 
Ahab, 113 
Amos, 136, 137 
Apostles, 60 
Assyria, 113, 137, 148 
Augustine, 86 

Babylonian stories, 185 

Carey. William, 58 
Chatterjee, 33 
Cheyne, Professor, 10 
Christ, as Son of Man, 54 
Chronicles, book of, 122 
Cyprian, 32 

Daniel, book of, in, 135, 
147, 150 

David, 113, 124 

Deuteronomy, connection with 
Jeremiah, 92 

Driver, Professor, " Introduc- 
tion to the Old Testament," 
10,92, III, 121, 133, 134, 143 


Ecclesiasticus, 166 

Egypt, 148 

Encyclopaedia Biblica, 10 

Esther, 160 

Exile, 125 

Ezekiel, 94, 135, 142 

Ezra, 112 

Frazer, "The Golden Bough," 

Genesis, missionary bearing 
of, 184 

Gilmour, 168 

Gospel, intrinsically mission- 
ary, 62 

Habbakuk, 145 

Haggai, 144 

Hastings, "Dictionary of the 

Bible, " 9 seq. , 147 
Hebrews, Epistle to the, 71, 98 
Henley, "English Lyrics," 169 
History, in the Old Testament, 


Sketch of O. T., 105-108 

the difficulty of, 109 

traditional solution, 115- 


scientific solution, iigseg. 

Hosea, 136, 137 
Hsi, Pastor, 57, 188 

Isaiah, book of, 130, 133, 139 
second part of, 143 

James, Epistle of, 75 

Jeremiah, 92, 134, 140 

Jeroboam II., 113, 148 

Job, 159, 160 

Joel, 136, 149 

John, Gospel of St, 51 

John, Epistles of, 77 

Jonah, II, 147 

Joseph, III 

Joshua, the high priest, 112 

Judaism, not missionary, 35 

Christianity sprung from, 

103, 125 



Judaism, the result of history, 
ii8, 123 

its Psalter, 176 

Jude, Epistle of, 76 
Judges, Book of, 121 

Kingdom, of God, 49, 51, 170 

Lamentations, 166 
Law, the, 39, 87, 183 

a development, 89 

rabbinical development of, 


book of the Covenant, 90 

of holiness, 93 

Leviticus, 94 

Maccabees, 108 
Malachi, 146 
Micah, 138 

Minor Prophets, 139-149 
Missions, the need of mission- 
aries, 59 
Monotheism, 117 

Nahum, 145 

Nebuchadnezzar, 114 

Neesima, 32 

Nehemiah, 109 

New Testament, comes before 
the Old, 31, 179 

burden of, 48 

Judaic and Pauline Chris- 
tianity in, 64 

intrinsically missionary, 


Nineveh, 148 

Noah, 109 

Obadiah, 145 

Old Testament, in what sense 
missionary, 34, 97 

Old Testament, defects of 

editing, 38 
fourfold division of, 39, 


Patriarchs, 123 

Paul, his epistles missionary, 

Pentateuch. See Law 
Peter, First Epistle of, 74 

Second Epistle of, 76 

Poetry, of the Old Testament, 

156. 183 
Positivism, 165 
Prophets, the, 41, 183 

functions of, 129 

rearrangement of, 137-152 

Proverbs, 164 

Psalms, 41, 167 

denunciatory, 172 

Revelation, Book of, 79 

Sanday, Professor, 10 
Saul, 112 

Saxon Chronicle, 121 
Scholarship, biblical and mis- 
sions, II, 22 
Smith, Professor G, A. , 10, 133 
Solomon, 113, 124 

Song of, 166 

Stories in the O. T,, 42, 158 

Tennyson, "Idylls of the 
King," 120 

Warneck, Dr, 25 
Wisdom, Book of, 166 
literature, 42, i6i 

Zechariah, 144 
Zephaniah, 141 


^•"i i"Mm» .T.^?,°'°T*^3' Seminary Libraries 

1 1012 

01234 7672 

Date Due 

Ap i ^ '43 


m ■ ' . • 



FF ■ 

AP2 9'5:? 

^PT '^^ 







\ ^