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the story? The purpose and plan of a book must be clearly grasped before it can be understood. We must not expect from a work information on any subjects which have no connexion at all with its theme, nor full information on such as have but a slender connexion with it. The Bible, like other histories, has a definite scope of its own, a well-defined purpose, and can only be properly appreciated when this purpose is recognised. An undiscerning critic, if ignorant of the title and scope of the work, might say of Mosheim's Church History, for example: “I cannot understand it or admire it at all. It ranges over a vast extent of history, but gives only the most partial and unsatisfactory views of very interesting and important points. It dwells with disproportionate fulness on some episodes of little moment; it wastes, for instance, whole chapters on the disputes of councils and the analysis of heresies, yet it fails to describe the decisive battles of history or to trace the careers of its heroes. It is a poor, unequal, disjointed account of the world's progress during the period." This judgment would be just, had Mosheim undertaken to write a general history. It is absurdly unjust in view of the fact that what he intended to write, and did write, was the history of the Church only.
For what view of history then are we to look in the Bible? - political ? social ? scientific ? philosophic? ethnographic ? military? Clearly none of these would either require or be worthy to become subjects of Divine revelation. No! If God condescends to become the historian of human affairs, the only possible standpoint from which they can be viewed is evidently the religious one ; that is, He will present them in their relation to Himself as Creator and Redeemer of mankind. In other words, the Bible must be the history, first, of man's creation and fall, and, secondly, of his redemption and restoration.
Further, for religious purposes, that is, in order to human salvation, the first of these two sections—that describing the
creation and fall-would not require to be a full or detailed
All that was needful was to reveal the great facts that God made man, and that He made himn in His own image. How or when is irrelevant to the great argument and need not consequently be enlarged upon. Man as an intelligent, free, responsible being was created by God, not developed from mere matter; and he was therefore bound to love and obey his Maker. He failed to do so, and thus he fell. Further, his fall did not introduce moral evil into the universe, for it existed previously, and it was an enemy both to God and to man who tempted the latter to his ruin. How or whence this ensues, or from what period this moral evil dated, why it was suffered to exist at all, -these and other interesting questions on which mere curiosity would crave for light, being beyond the scope of a book which has the salvation of the lost race as its object, are passed by in silence ; and man's creation and fall having been briefly recounted on the opening page, the whole of the rest of the volume is devoted to the history of human redemption. Events are selected for record solely in view of their relation to this all-important theme, and human affairs are viewed from the standpoint of their bearing on it. This is the key to the Bible as a book. It narrates the history of human sin and human redemption, carrying us steadily forward from the perfected and “good” condition of things in Eden at the close of the first creation to the still higher perfection of the new creation, to the "new heavens and the new earth," and the renewed and restored race of man, when “He that sitteth on the throne shall say, It is done! Behold, I make all things new.”
He therefore who criticises the Bible because it does not contain what it does not profess to contain, and could not consistently contain, violates a fundamental canon of literature, and exposes his own folly, and not that of the book. Its nature, object, and scope require that it should be utterly imperfect as a mere secular history of the events of ages, in order that it may be perfect as a sacred history of the redemption of mankind. Not a word does it contain, consequently, about Julius Cæsar, though Augustus Cæsar and the Roman emperor Claudius are alluded to; they were remotely connected with the Saviour and His apostles, but not so their great military predecessor. Both the historic and the geographic sphere of Scripture story are limited, and this very limitation is a feature of perfection. The book keeps to its point, and that point is to reveal God to man and to bring man back to God.
The work of human redemption has been carried on from age to age in ever-widening spheres, and will continue to be so until it embraces the world. It begins in the individual heart and extends to the life, and then, like the concentric rings produced by a stone thrown into water, it extends until it affects the extreme circumference of humanity. Hence we find in Scripture individual biographies, patriarchal and tribal stories, a national history, and prophetic histories of imperial dominion, all playing their part in the narrative, all linked together by one golden line-their common relation to a great redeeming work. Whatever be the sphere and what. ever be the style-whether the history be anticipated in prophecy, or simply recorded in narrative—it is always the story of the redeeming work of God which is traced, and the salvation of men is always the end in view. Only as we bear in mind this self-evident truth shall we be able to estimate aright the selection and treatment of historic events in Scripture. THE DIVINE PROGRAMME OF
| The Rev. T. Whitelaw, in his “ Introduction to the Book of Genesis” in the “ Pulpit Commentary,” well says of this book of origins : “While treating of the fortunes of the human race, the record, almost instantly on starting, confines its regards, in the earlier portion, to one particular section (the line of Seth), and, in the later, to one particular family (the children of Abraham, in the line of Isaac and Jacob), and deals with the other branches of the human family only in so far as they are needful to elucidate the story of the chosen seed. And, still further, it is noticeable that, in the elaboration of his plan, the author is always careful to keep the reader's eye fixed upon the special line whose fortunes he has set himself to trace, by dismissing at the outset of each section with a brief notice those collateral branches, that nothing may afterwards arise to divide the interest with the holy seed, and the narrative may flow on uninterruptedly in the recital of their story. "The materials of the history, writes Keil, ‘are arranged and distributed according to the law of Divine selection : the families which branched off from the main line are noticed first of all ; and when they have been removed from the general scope of the history, the course of the main line is more elaborately described, and the history itself is carried forward. According to this plan, which is strictly adhered to, the history of Cain and his family precedes that of Seth and his posterity ; the genealogies of Japhet and Ham stand before that of Shem; the histories of Ishmael and Esau before those of Isaac and Jacob; and the death of Terah before the call and migration of
THE WORLD'S HISTORY CONSISTS OF SEVEN MAIN SECTIONS, CORRESPONDING WITH SEVEN GREAT EPOCHS OF FRESH COMMENCEMENT WHICH STAND OUT PROMINENTLY IN THE BIBLE STORY OF HUMANITY. CONNECTED WITH EACH OF THESE THERE HAS BEEN A FRESH DIVINE REVELATION, SKETCHING OUT
Abraham to Canaan’; and 'in this regularity of composition,' he further adds, 'the book of Genesis may be clearly seen to be the careful production of one single author, who looked at the historical development of the human race in the light of Divine revelation, and thus exhibited it as a complete and well-arranged introduction to the history of the Old Testament kingdom of God.' . . . Genesis was not designed to be a universal history of mankind. . As the opening volume of revelation in which the history of salvation was to be recorded, it was designed to exhibit the primeval condition of the human race, with its melancholy lapse into sin, which first of all rendered salvation necessary, and to disclose the initial movements of that Divine grace which ever since had been working for man's restoration, and of which the theocracy in Israel was only a specific manifestation. Thus, while the book of Genesis could not fail to be possessed of undying interest to every member of the Hebrew Church and nation, it is likewise a writing of transcendent value and paramount mportance to every scion of the human race, containing as it does the only authentic information which has ever yet reached the world of the original dignity of mankind, and of the conditions under which it commenced its career on earth ; the only satisfactory explanation which has ever yet been given of the estate of sin and misery in which, alas! it all too plainly finds itself to-day, and the only sufficient gospel of salvation that has ever yet been recommended to its attention and acceptance."
WITH MORE OR LESS FULNESS THE EVENTS DESTINED TO
TRANSPIRE IN THE COURSE OF THE AGE THEN BEGINNING.
“God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these. last days spoken unto us by His Son, whom He hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also He made the worlds." The first six of these names are the names of men merely; the seventh is that of the glorious God-Man: it stands apart from all the rest—the stately procession closing with the majestic figure of the Redeemer Himself. ADAM was the father of the human race; NOAH, the father of the world that now is; ABRAHAM, the father of the Jewish people and the Arab races and in another sense the father of the faithful, or believing people of God in all ages; Moses, the founder and legislator of the Jewish nation; DAVID was the founder of Jewish monarchy, and the father of the royal line of Judah, destined yet to rule the world in the person of “David's Son and David's Lord, the Lion of the tribe of Judah ”; NEBUCHADNEZZAR, the spring-head of Gentile monarchy—the head of gold in the fourfold image of it shown to Daniel; and lastly, OUR LORD AND SAVIOUR JESUS CHRIST, the founder of the kingdom of God and the head of redeemed humanity, whose kingdom, established in a mystery eighteen hundred years ago, is yet to bear sway over all the earth in manifested power and glory. It is represented by the stone cut out without hands which smote on its feet the image of Gentile monarchy, ground it to powder, “became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth.”
Now it is undeniable that to and through each of these