Imágenes de páginas
[blocks in formation]

will as we have it in the Holy Scriptures. The Old Testament Prophecy,' we have been lately reminded, 'is still a living message for the Christian Church. Its fulfilment does not mean that its use is at an end.' It is in Holy Scripture that we can watch the methods by which God works out His purposes, educates the world, establishes His kingdom' (Dr. Kirkpatrick's Doctrine of the Prophets, p. 525).

This brings us to the point of especial interest which makes us welcome the little volume of Practical Reflections' on the words of the Minor Prophets. We have, for the time at least, passed beyond the mere evidential use of the Prophetical writings. We have seen their extended ethical or social value, showing us the reality of the moral government of God, not only over Judah and Israel, but, as in Amos, over the neighbouring powers of Damascus, Gaza, Tyre, Edom, Ammon, and Moab; or, as in the Books of Jonah, Nahum, and Habakkuk, over the great world-powers of Nineveh and Babylon. All this is of infinite value, but the sum of the Sacred Writings is to make us wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus' (2 Tim. iii. 15). ‘The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy' (Rev. xix. 10). "Prophecy first becomes fully intelligible in the light reflected from His Person and offices; His teach


Practical Reflections on the Minor Prophets

ing; His life and work; His kingdom' (Dr. Kirkpatrick, p. 517). It is especially with regard to this latter point, ‘His Kingdom,' the Church, the Kingdom of Heaven,' the state of things under the Gospel dispensation, that we are seeking instruction from God's Word now.

'It would be a low and erroneous notion to imagine that the Hebrew Prophets have done their work, and that their prophecies belong only to the past.

Rather we may say that they are co-extensive with Christianity, and that they possess a living and growing energy, and are now adapting themselves to events that are arising from time to time in the Christian Church; and that they will continue to possess this vitality, and to exert this elastic and expansive agency, even to the end' (Bishop Wordsworth, Introduction to The Minor Prophets, p. xi).

It is in this spirit, as showing how the Book of “The Twelve Prophets' bears on these Gospel times, that the author of these Reflections has given us a list of the prophecies quoted in the New Testament, such as Joel ii. 28-32, quoted by S. Peter in reference to the gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (Acts ii. 17-21); and again, Amos ix. 11, 12, quoted by S. James at the first council of the Church, in reference to the calling in of the Gentiles (Acts xv. 16, 17). And he tells us also in general terms

[blocks in formation]

that 'the Book of the Twelve Prophets is quoted in the New Testament to give precepts of living, to express Gospel mysteries, to illustrate incidents in Christ's work' (p. ix).

From this point of view, the study of the writings of the Prophets is the true preparation for the study of Church History: of our deficiencies in this study Bishop Ellicott has lately reminded us. What we want, he tells us, is history as distinguished from annals and aggregation of facts and circumstances' (Foundation of Sacred Study, 1895, p. 202). What we want, the Bishop further tells us, is 'some presentment of the living flow of the events of the past'; ' a more careful study of the Acts of the Apostles, rightly called "the Gospel of the Holy Ghost," where we have the true foundation of Church History; the dominant truth being the immanent working of the Holy Ghost,' where all is carried on under the Spirit's providential government of the Church' (Ibid. pp. 199, 211).

This is in complete harmony with the teaching of these Reflections. Writing on Joel ii. 28, the writer says (p. 51): 'Not literal rain upon the crops, but God's Spirit upon human hearts. Not on the chosen people only, but widely over the earth. Not on a few wise and eloquent seers, but upon young and old, servants as well as masters. The Holy Ghost strengthens, enlightens, purifies believing hearts; teaches them to discern God's ways and to influ

[ocr errors]


Practical Reflections on the Minor Prophets

ence their brethren for good. This is the privilege of the Christian Church, to enjoy the presence and aid of God's Spirit, which Christ the Lord poured out abundantly from on high. S. Peter quotes these verses at length (Acts ii. 17-21), and applies them to the outpouring of Pentecostal grace, but their meaning has not yet been exhausted for us. O Lord, revive this gift in Thy present Church. Give us prophecy to discern Thy working and our duty. Let our old men “dream dreams” of peace, our young men “see visions” of honour and duty. Let working people, and the poor, claim for themselves a share in highest transports, devoutest prayers. Such was Thy Church in its best days.' It is obvious that the prophecies of Haggai, Zachariah, and Malachi will have many lessons of infinite value for us, as we work and pray for the restoration and reunion and triumph of God's Church.

A word in conclusion. While this Book of the Twelve Prophets encourages us to look forward to perfecting the life of the individual in the life of the Body,' the Church, two fundamental conditions as safeguards of individual personal religion are brought before us. 1. The Condition of Faiththe just shall live by his faith' (Habakkuk ii. 4), 'this is the motto of Saints ; this is the watchword of faith under both covenants; this is the message to be written out plainly and shown for ready readers' (p. 134). 2. The

[blocks in formation]

Condition of Individual Loyalty to the Moral Law'He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God' (Micah vi. 8). *This verse is a summary of the moral teaching both of Old Testament and New Testament. It tells us there are three things necessary, doing justice, loving mercy, walking before God with a humble heart' (p. 113).

The writer considers that his work of devotional exposition has now been sufficiently carried out. This volume will

therefore close the series of Practical Reflections. We

should not forget to remember himn in our prayers; and to pray more earnestly for ourselves and others that it may please God to give us all 'an increase of grace to hear meekly His Word, to receive it with pure affection, and to bring forth the fruits of the Spirit.'



Lent 1896.

« AnteriorContinuar »