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Church of the fourth and fifth centuries went beyond the requirements of the Gospel in subjecting every soldier on his return from battle to a penance before admitting him to the Holy Communion. Gibbon charges this as one of the causes which contributed to the fall of the Roman Empire. That fall, however, was occasioned among its other numerous vices by its most oppressive system of finance.

But I shall be asked—What have you to say about the Old Testament? Does it not justify the warlike spirit which you affirm Christianity condemns ? Has not the song

Has not the song of Moses the words, " The Lord is a man of war ?" Has not one of the Psalmists written, “Blessed be the Lord my strength, who teacheth my hands to war and my fingers to fight," and is there not much more even in the book of Psalms to the same effect? In a word, is not the spirit of the Old Testament thoroughly warlike? I answer that it is even so, but the supposed applicability of its moral teaching to Christian times is founded on an entire misapprehension of the relation in which it stands to the New. Our Lord affirms in the sermon on the mount that He came, not to destroy the law or the prophets, but to fill them up full, ove ήλθον καταλύσαι, αλλά πληρώσαι, ε.ε., to realise the true moral idea which underlay them; and by so doing to sweep away all the imperfections of their utterances.

Before expressing my own views on this subject. I must draw your attention to a very remarkable work of the late Canon Mozley, entitled “Ruling ideas in the Early Ages, and their Relation to Old Testament Faith.” It was originally a course of lectures delivered to graduates in the University of Oxford, in his capacity of Regius Professor of Divinity in that University. Strange to say, although this is one of his most remarkable works, and one which everyone who undertakes to expound the scriptures of the Old Testament ought to be acquainted with, it is one of the least known. I by no means wish to commit myself to all the Professor's positions, but there are numerous points in this book which every student ought to meditate on, to enable him to understand the relation in which the teaching of the Old Testament stands to that of the New. Dr. Mozley clearly perceived that the old mode of dealing with these subjects was no longer tenable. He therefore lays it down as a general principle that in these days of enlightened Christian conscience it would be impossible to accept as of Divine authority a command to perform an action directly contrary to its dictates, even if that command were sanctioned by a miracle. In such a case it would be our duty to disregard the miracle, and to obey conscience. In accounting therefore for certain precepts in the Old Testament, he lays down the all-important truth, too often disregarded, that the revelations therein contained are progressive revelations, specially adapted to the condition of the people for whom they were designed, and accommodated to the low moral condition of the times. Consequently, he admits that there are commands in the Old Testament which no command given in these Christian days would justify us in carrying into execution, not even if they were sanctioned, to use the Professor's own words, by a miracle,-1 would say, by a pretended miracle ; or directed by what a person deemed to be an express revelation.

A simple illustration will make Mozley's position clear. Supposing a person prosessing to have a divine commission were to come into this

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room, and order me to kill the Chairman, and were to sanction his order by the performance of a miracle; in such a case I am bound to obey the dictates of my Christian conscience, which pronounces the killing of an innocent man a crime, and to disregard the miracle. With the general principles as laid down by the Professor I cordially agree, although we widely differ respecting the nature and evidential value of miracles, as may be seen in our respective Bampton Lectures.

But how about the commands to slaughter whole nations, including women and children; the ordinary Jewish law of war, which authorised the destruction of every male ; and the practice of any extent of lying towards an enemy? The two first of these have been attempted to be vindicated on the grounds that the Author of life has the right to recall His gift whenever He pleases; and that it is the same thing whether He does it by an earthquake or by human agency. His abstract right to take life cannot be denied ; but as the Professor most justly observes, there is a wide difference between the employment of a moral agent to take life, and the blind forces of nature, which are destitute alike of volition and morality. His general position may be briefly stated as follows :The moral sentiment in these early ages was low, and the times barbarous. Many an act which is considered a crime now was not considered a crime then. Among these were numerous cases of bloodshedding, for which the perpetrator in this Christian country would certainly be hanged, but which in those times were esteemed just and lawful. The cause of this was that in the ancient world there was a total absence of the recognition of the rights of the individual. Thus the whole family, including wife, children, and slaves, were viewed as the property of its head, and were not considered to have a single individual right, not even to life. This being so, vengeance took the form of massacring a whole family, and even of exterminating a whole tribe, in requital for an offence committed by some ancestor. Further, the practising of any amount of deceit towards an opponent was viewed as just and lawful. The moral sentiment in these early days being thus degraded, the Professor considers the moral teaching of the Old Testament, and even certain Divine commands to exterminate whole nations, and families, to have been an accommodation to it. In a word, the rights of the individual as distinct from those of the head of the family or tribe, were unrecognised until the latter time of the Jewish dispensation ; and those of enemies not until Gospel times. The facts as stated by Dr. Mozley respecting the low moral ideal of those early ages, are, I think, undoubtedly true, and that the Jewish dispensation is an accommodation to it. The fact that its legislation and practice allowed, nay, commanded, many things which are inconsistent with the teachings of Jesus Christ, is affirmed by our Lord Himself. On this point I will express myself in Professor Mozley's own words. I only regret that time prevents me from reading to you the whole of his fifth lecture.

“The law,” says he, tests itself. Does the enlightened conscience condemn anything that it allows or commands, it ceases to belong to the law; it goes. “Ye have heard that it hath been said of old time'; all these precepts are the littera scripta of the law; they are there in black and white; statute law, as good as ever was impressed on any code. But it all goes from the original assumption which overrides every particular statute, that now nothing but what is perfect is allowed in morals. "Be

ye perfect, even as your Father that is in heaven is perfect.' If there is anything that is a falling short, which goes a certain way, but not the whole way, as in the imperfect law of marriage, in the imperfect law of love, and in the law of retaliation-it is assumed that the essence of the law is not all this; and that on the other hand what is perfect is the law. We know nothing from henceforth but this perfect law commanding in the conscience," (p. 105).

Having travelled thus far pleasantly with the Professor, it is with regret that I must express dissent from several of the conclusions which he draws from these premises. It seems to me that his principles fail to meet those cases where what are apparently express Divine commands, are alleged as the justification of acts which Christianity condemns as immoral. I can fully understand these utterances, on the assumption that Moses and the prophets possessed such a degree of divine enlightenment as was necessary to qualify them for that work to which they were divinely called, and in virtue of this enlightenment, and of their divine commission, that they prefaced their utterances with the formula “ Thus saith the Lord.” An example will illustrate my meaning. In Exodus xxv. 9 Moses is directed to make the tabernacle and its furniture according to a pattern showed him in the Mount. Yet, the whole of the following chapters to the 31st contain a number of directions respecting the construction of the tabernacle and its furniture of the minutest kind, each direction being introduced with the words “ The Lord said unto Moses.” I assume, therefore, that this forinula is used because Moses made them according to the divine model, and not because he subsequently received a specific direction as to the position of every nail and every plank, for otherwise the order to frame the tabernacle according to a model previously shown him is unintelligible. This principle I therefore apply to those utterances of the Old Testament which represent God as expressly commanding acts to be performed which are contrary to the spirit and the teaching of Jesus Christ. I assume that in these a human element of some kind has most assuredly entered.

That such human elements entered in the utterances of the prophets, the utterance of Agabus, recorded in the Acts of the Apostles, affords positive proof. Having bound his own hands and feet with Paul's girdle, St. Luke represents him as saying, “Thus saith the Holy Ghost, so shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man that owneth this girdle, and deliver him into the hands of the Romans."

We are, however, informed by St. Luke himself, that the Jews did not bind Paul, nor deliver him bound into the hands of Romans; but on the contrary that they tried to kill him, and that the Romans, seeing the tumult, came down, took him forcibly out of their hands, and by the order of their commander bound him with two chains; and we are subsequently informed that the Jews complained before Felix that Lysias with great violence had taken him out of their hands. It is true that the revisers have placed this last passage in the margin, as though it was of doubtful authority, but it is difficult to conceive what could have induced any scribe to insert it, whereas it is easy to account for its omission. But whether genuine or otherwise, it does not affect the facts stated by the historian. The details, therefore, of Agabus's utterance were not realised. I assume,


therefore, that he was only authorised to warn Paul of his danger, and the particular form of his utterance was a human element apparently framed in the expectation that the Jews would pursue the same course with Paul as they had with our Lord, viz., deliver him bound as a condemned criminal into the hands of the Romans. I apply this principle therefore to these utterances in the Old Testament, which command acts to be performed which are contrary to the teaching of Jesus Christ, and to the dictates of the conscience enlightened by that teaching. Among these surely must be reckoned wholesale slaughters of men, women, and children, of the latter of whom the Saviour certainly said, “Suffer the little children to come unto Me and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of God.

Respecting the supposed command to exterminate the Canaanitish tribes I need say but little, for I find such a command recorded only in one solitary passage in Deuteronomy. In every other place the injunction is to drive them out. In Exodus 24th chap., and elsewhere, the "hornet” is described as the instrument by which three of these tribes were to be expelled. Moreover, they were to be driven out gradually, to prevent the increase of wild beasts, and to give the Israelites time to increase in numbers to enable them to inherit the land. These important facts are often overlooked. But the case of the Gibeonites proves that the direction was not understood as a command utterly to exterminate these nations, for they obtained a treaty of peace by a deception so gross that it is impossible that Joshua and the elders could have viewed their oaths given under such circumstances so far binding as to supersede a direct divine command. Yet their submission was accepted, and the remark is subsequently made that none of the other Canaanitish tribes offered to do so. It seems, therefore, that their national destruction, and not their extermination, was the intention of the command. So St. Stephen also seems to have viewed the matter.

“Whom,” says he, “God drove out before the face of our fathers."

It is impossible that I can accept Dr. Mozley's elaborate attempt to vindicate the act of Jael, for even on his own principles, her act of treachery and falsehood was one far below the imperfect morality of the times. Besides, no miracle was wrought to justify it ; no command was given. Why, I ask, is it necessary to attempt to vindicate such an act simply because in Deborah's war song she is called “Blessed among women.” Which is the more probable, that this song is an utterance expressing the feelings of the triumphant Deborah, or that such an act of deceit and treachery, even in the most barbarous times, received the commendation of the Spirit of truth and love. The same principles are applicable to all similar cases, such, for example, as the act of Ehud, and are their only adequate explanation. Ehud even added to his act of treachery the words, “ I have a message from God to thee," and on hearing this, apparently in reverence, Jabin rose out of his seat, on which followed the act of assassination. I fully agree with Paley that to make Christianity responsible for its life for everything which is recorded in the Old Testament, is to place a wholly unnecessary burden on the shoulders of its defender.

My hearers will perceive that it is simply impossible to deal with such a subject as the present, in a manner which is satisfactory to them, or

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to myself, in the space of twenty minutes; all that I can do is to drop hints, which will be of wide and general application. Let me then offer one more hint as an aid to the solution of this difficult question. There are only two ways of getting rid of moral evil, viz , either by conversion, or by extermination. In these early times the idea of conversion was unknown. It is not even hinted at in the earlier books of the Bible. Zealous opponents of evil, therefore, had no weapon with which to combat it but extermination. Their idea was, that in doing this, they were identifying themselves with the cause of God. Vengeance on wickedness they thought, if executed at all, must be executed in this life; for there are only two passages in the Old Testament, and these belong to very late times, which contain a distinct reference to a judgment to be executed on sin beyond the grave. From this ignorance originated no small number of deeds therein recorded, which are repugnant to our Lord's teaching. Happy shall he be,” says one of the Psalmists, “that taketh and dasheth thy children against the stones.” Yet not all of them breathed this fearful spirit; for another Psalmist says, “I am for

peace, but when I speak to them thereof they make them ready for battle.” How like is this to the spirit manifested by multitudes of professed Christians in this our day.

In conclusion, therefore, I have only to observe that, however we may explain that encouragement given to bloodshed in the Old Testament, which with a few trifling exceptions pervades its pages, the whole has vanished away with that dispensation, and that it is now the duty of the Church, and of every individual member of it, to proclaim, both in season and out of season, that God is the God, not of battles, but of peace; that the fruit of the Spirit is peace; that the Christ of the Gospels being the moral image of God, every act, whether of nations or of individuals, which is repugnant to His character, is not of God; and that “ Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God." This duty is pre-eminently incumbent on the members of a Church who weekly, perhaps daily, approach God with the words—"0 God, who art the Author of Peace, and Lover of Concord,” and who ought not only to pray, “Give peace in our time, O Lord," but to do everything in their power, both in their political, social, and individual capacity to promote it.

The Rev. ALFRED EDERSHEIM, D.D., Vicar of Loders, Dorset,

late Warburton Lecturer, Lincoln's Inn. At the outset I must confess to a feeling of incongruity, if not presumption, in attempting to speak on such a subject in a place like Portsmouth. And yet, surely, it is evidence also of the Divine reality of Christianity that, where all is bristling with the appliances for defensive and offensive warfare, in the very head-quarters of England's fighting power, we should set ourselves to consider this question of war from the standpoint of the Bible and the Church. It evidences that Christianity takes not anything for granted, nor yet indiscriminately blesses what is existing, but has Divine principles which it applies to all present questions, seeking to solve the great problems of life in

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