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Christianity historical in its antecedents. 257

the perfect human Life. The new life which was communicated to men requires for its complete embodiment the services of all men. The fuller meaning of the Faith in Him Who is the Way and the Truth and the Life is slowly mastered through the ages by the ministry of nations and by the ministry of saints and heroes through which the thoughts of the nations are interpreted. Such a process must go on unhastingly, unrestingly, irreversibly to the end of time; and if anything can make us feel the nobility of life, it must be that in Christ we are enabled to recognise in the whole course of history a majestic spectacle of the action of Divine love in which no failures and no wilfulness of men can obliterate the signs and the promises of a Presence of GOD.

(i) Christianity is historical in its antecedents.

These general statements require to be presented somewhat further in detail.

Christianity is historical in its antecedents : it is the fulfilment of Judaism, the goal of the revelations of the Old Testament. The fact has been denied and misinterpreted from the first age to the present; but it is essential to the right understanding of the relation of revelation W. G. L.

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258 Christianity the fulfilment
to life. It is affirmed in the plainest terms by
the Lord, and it underlies all the teaching of the
Apostles. The Apostles everywhere assume the
continuity of their religious faith, even as the Lord
grew and waxed strong, becoming full of wisdom
(Lk. ii. 40, 51 f.) under the influence of Jewish
teaching All is summed up in the words:
Think not that I came to destroy (katalüoai) the
law or the prophetsthe outward discipline of
ritual and rule by which Israel was moulded,
and the spiritual promises by which Israel was
quickened—I came not to destroy, but to fulfil
(Matt. v. 17), to realise perfectly that to which
they pointed, to abrogate the service of the
letter and form only by taking it up without loss
into a more perfect order. That to which the
Levitical system witnessed as the supreme privi-
lege of man-direct communion with GOD
given under typical ordinances to one man on
one day in the year became in the Son of man
the right of every Christian at all times (Hebr.
iv. 16; x. 19 ff.; compare Lk. xvi. 17, xxii. 16;
Matt. xxiii. 2 f., xxiv. 20).

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So it is that in the Fourth Gospel-the Gospel of the Christian Church-words of the Lord have been preserved in which He marked the connexion in which He stood with the history

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and with the institutions of the Old Covenant, with Abraham (viii. 56; comp. i. 51), with Moses (iii. 14, v. 46, vi. 31 ff.; vii. 22), with the Psalmist (x. 34, xiii. 18, xv. 25). Nor is it too much to say that all that is written out at length in the Epistle to the Hebrews is implied in these and other like pregnant sentences, in which the believer recognises point by point that the salvation in which he rejoices is of the Jews (iv. 22 η σωτηρία εκ των Ιουδαίων εστίν), the fruit and not the perpetuation of the discipline of a people of God.

For however great uncertainty may still hang over the details of Old Testament history, the history of the Jews is, in its broad and unquestionable outlines, the history of a people who believed, and who, with all their failures and relapses, lived as believing in the intercourse of God and man: who believed in the kinsmanship of men as made by God for His glory: who believed in the righteous sovereignty of GOD, guiding the affairs of the world to an issue corresponding with the purpose of Creation. From first to last, so far as their faith found more and more

an articulate expression, the Jews believed and lived as believing that they were called to be witnesses to GOD as the Creator

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The successive Covenants.

and Preserver, the King and the Redeemer of all

men.

This sublime faith is recorded in the series of Covenants which are an epitome of the history of pre-Christian revelation as it was interpreted by the prophets of Israel. The nature-covenant with Noah confirms the promise of Creation in spite of the sin by which the works of GOD have been marred. The grace-covenant with Abraham discloses the divine counsel for guiding humanity to its true goal by the ministry of faith, effective through the service of one for all the nations of the earth. The work-covenant of Sinai brings to light the duty and the weakness of men, their social unity, the calling of a people. The life-covenant with David points forward to the future unity of the people,' and of the nations' through'the people, in One Who is 'the Son of God. The whole history gives a view of the redemption and consummation of mankind through the realisation of the idea of holiness as the condition of that fellowship of man and men with God, for which they were made (Lev. xi. 44).

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For while Israel was consecrated to God it was as 'a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.' The

Israel a Messianic people.

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whole people was regarded as being at once His son (Ex. iv. 22; Hos. xi. 1), and His bride (Hos. ii. 14 f.; Jer. ii. 2 f.), an offspring and a source of divine life. The work of Israel was not for itself alone. Every gift, every privilege, every lesson, was to be used for others. The popular view of the exclusiveness of Israel is the exact opposite of the truth. The exclusiveness of the people was the condition of its work, its life, but the life was offered to all, with significant exceptions, on the acceptance of the condition (Deut. xxiii. 3 ff. 7 ff.) From the first provision was made for the incorporation of strangers into the holy people (Ex. xii. 38, 48; Lev. xxiv. 10; Num. xi. 4). The terms of complete fellowship were fixed not by descent but by character determined by outward ordinances in an outward organisation. Israel was a Messianic people, called to its office not for any exceptional merits of its own but as an instrument through which God was pleased to accomplish His will for all His children. Over against stands Babylon the symbol of man's selfdeification. Israel was to the nations, what priests and prophets were to Israel, a witness of the divine claims on man and of the divine purpose

for man.

In this respect Israel offers a sharp contrast

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