This kingdom cannot be properly comprehended without acknowledging an intimate and internal connection existing between the Old and New Testaments.
PROPOSITION 16. This Kingdom cannot be properly comprehended without acknowledging an intimate and internal connection existing between the Old and New Testaments.
The doctrine of the kingdom is first taught by covenant, theocratic ordering, and prophecy in the Old Testament, and it is taken for granted in the New Testament as a subject derived from the Old Testament and well understood; for the kingdom is preached without any appended explanation.
Obs. 1. This Proposition is the more needed, since some recent works (as e.g. Fairbairn On Proph., p. 164, etc.) have made efforts to depreciate the value of the Old Test. as an instructor, telling us that it is far inferior to the New Test., that its light is dim and its utterances indistinct in comparison with the New, etc. This, in view of our so largely relying upon the Old Test., is done with such evident satisfaction that a canon of interpretation is adopted which reads: “Everything which affects the constitution and destiny of the New Test. Church has its clearest determination in the New Test. Scriptures.” While we cheerfully admit that on many points (as e.g. the birth, life, sufferings, death, etc., of Jesus, the present ordering during the Times of the Gentiles, etc.) the New Test. gives additional and clearer light, yet such a canon is exceedingly unjust to the Old Test., which so largely deals, e.g. in the consummation of the Church’s glory.[*]
Note. It is gratifying to find that in many recent works, especially in the department of Bib. Theology, the Old Test. is restored to its proper position, thus corroborating the declarations found in various Commentaries, Introductions to the Bible, etc., respecting the fundamental station of the Old Test. in Scripture. Such writers as Hengstenberg, Hävernick, Tholuck, Auberlen, Hofmann, Kurtz, Delitzsch, Stanley, Bonar, Baumgarten, etc., have done much in this direction, and even Fairbairn, in other places, enforces this relationship. The old Marcionitic notion (comp. Lardner’s Works, vol. 9, p. 256–288, giving also the alterations of the New Test. by Marcion) of separating the Old Test. from the New, while not carried to the absurd extent (as, under the plea that the God of the Old Test. was different from that of the New) of ancient times, yet is still felt and expressed in modern times in various ways, especially in a species of exalting the New to a wrongful disparagement of the Old. Thus the Spiritualists, Free Religionists, etc., boldly proclaim (as, e.g., Oliver Porter, in Religio-Philosoph. Journal for 1874) that the Old and New Tests. should be separated, and not even bound together in the same book, because of their being hostile, antagonistic to each other; adding, that to join them “is like putting new cloth into old garments, to be rent asunder. A divorce, doubtless, will some time be made.” A writer in the Edinb. Review, Oct., 1873, reviewing Strauss’ work, recommends that “Gentile Christianity” should not make itself responsible for the Old Test., saying: “We are not Jews,” etc., and that “the Jewish Scriptures do not belong to us, and that we are in no way responsible for them.” Comp. Prof. Norton, Genuineness of the Gospels, vol. 2, p. 402, Carpenter On Mind and Will in Nature, Contemp. Review, 1872. It is not difficult to see that all such fail to view the Redemptive Purpose as a grand whole, the portrayal of which alike demands the Old and New Tests.
Obs. 2. Our entire argument, as we proceed, is a refutation of this lowering of the Old Test. A few reasons now stated, will indicate the one-sidedness of those who resist the claims of the Old Test. to the same rank and dignity of the New. (1) The Old foretells the New, and the New confirms the Old—both are indispensably necessary. (2) The Covenants out of which, and in which, the New stands, are only contained in the Old. (3) The prophecies and promises descriptive of the New, are found in the Old. (4) Both are the Word of God, and should, therefore, be received on equal footing, and possess equal value. (5) The New, taking a familiar acquaintance of the Old for granted, and proceeding on this supposition, does not supersede the Old. (6) The continued quotation from the Old in the New, the constant references to the covenanted promises of the Old, the general appeal to the predictions of the Old, the example of Jesus and of the apostles in estimating the value of the Old—all this proves its vital importance. (7) The express injunction to search and study the Old Test. Scriptures. (8) The declaration of Jesus that He came to fulfil and not to destroy it, and that every jot and tittle of it was precious. (9) A large portion of the Old, embracing entire chapters and continuous prophecies, has not yet been fulfilled, owing to the postponement of the Kingdom and the designs of mercy, and hence—as will be shown hereafter—the period of the Christian Church is an intercalary one, extending through the Times of the Gentiles, and if we desire to know its destiny, its ultimate condition in the consummation, the Old must be compared with the New. (10) Many things contained in the Old yet to be fulfilled, are only slightly hinted at or taken for granted in the New; others of magnitude and vast importance, are not even mentioned, it being supposed that every believer, as enjoined, would find them in the Old and incorporate them. (11) The New only professes to be a continuation of the Divine Plan of Salvation; it is a necessary supplement to the Old, but not a superseding of the Old, excepting only in the ordaining of certain provisionary and typical measures. (12) The destiny of all the elect, both under the Old and New, is the same, showing that the same truth leading to the same end, is virtually contained in both Tests., however one may add to the other. (13) The unity of Divine Purpose can only be ascertained by their combination; without the Old many of the allusions in the New could not be understood, and without the New much that is in the Old could not be properly appreciated. (14) The New, as evidenced by our remarks, is built on the Old as on a foundation, and if separated from the latter, its strength and stability is diminished, if not destroyed. By this removal, as seen in too many works, its light is dimmed and its testimony to the truth is fearfully weakened. Hence no rule or interpretation should be endured which arbitrarily distinguishes between, virtually severs, the same Word of God, but we must regard the Scriptures as one whole, all significant, important, and weighty, giving only when in combination, in firm union, the steady, brilliant light that we need.[*]
Note. Comp. Dorner’s His. Prot. Theol., vol. 2, p. 435, etc., and Oosterzee’s, Schmid’s, and Reuss’ Bib. Theols. of the New Test. Dorner has also remarked (p. 404, vol. 2), that a Bib. Theol. of the Old Test. is still lacking, and until this want is skilfully supplied, many will fail to see the vast stores of treasures contained within it, essential to a correct apprehension of many doctrinal points and of the Plan of Salvation. In this respect a lesson can be learned from the early church (Hagenbach’s His. of Doc., vol. 1, p. 87): “They frequently appeal to the connection existing between the Old and New Tests. (e.g., Irenæus, Adv. Hær., 4, 9, etc.), consequently implying that the two parts of Scripture belong together.” They do more than this, they so employ the Old Test. as to indicate in its covenants and prophecies that it contains stronger proof and clearer light in reference to some things that are yet to be fulfilled than the New Test. While this is so, the extreme (Hagenbach’s His. of Doc., vol. 2, sec. 292, note) must be avoided of preferring the Old to the New as illustrated, so stated by Hagenbach, in the writings of Herder, De Wette, and Umbreit. The truth is, that each gives a strong light that must be combined; that the one illustrates, enforces, and confirms the other.
Obs. 3. The criticism, then, of Ernesti and others, that the Old Test. might indeed have been of some use to the Jews, but certainly was not intended for all mankind, is sadly defective and demoralizing, seeing that on the fulfilment of the Old Test. promises depends our completed Salvation, our hope of perfected Redemption, the expectation of the final restitution of all things. The Old Test. is full of anticipated, covenanted, prophesied Salvation; the New is full of the inestimable provision made for the same; both unite in showing how and when it will be fully accomplished.[*]
Note. The writer has been pained to find excellent writers express themselves incautiously, when, e.g., referring to the Old Test. as preparative to the New (which is also true), they inform (as Pressense, The Redeemer, p. 38) us “that the Old Test. speaks to us of the preparation for Salvation, whilst the New Test. speaks of its realization.” This is only a half truth; in point of fact both speak the same language; and the Old Test., as comparison abundantly shows, has more to say of the final realization than the New. Row (Bampton Lectures, 1877, p. 22) presents an injurious limitation, as follows: “So likewise I accept Paley’s general positions, that the Christian advocate is only concerned with the Old Test. so far as portions of it have received the direct sanction of our Lord.” The other portions he thinks important only in the “elaboration of a true Christian theology. “But this is too restrictive, and at once trammels the study of the Christ, the Kingdom, etc. Some recent writers might learn a lesson from even De Wette (quoted by Bähr and requoted by Fairbairn Typology, p. 34), who, with all his liberalism, could say: “Christianity sprang out of Judaism. Long before Christ appeared, the world was prepared for His appearance; the entire Old Test. is a great prophecy, a great type of Him who was to come and has come. Who can deny that the holy seers of the Old Test. saw in spirit the Advent of Christ long before He came, and, in prophetic anticipations, sometimes more, sometimes less clear, descried the new doctrine? The typological comparison, also, of the Old Test. with the New, was by no means a mere play of fancy, nor can it be regarded as altogether the result of accident, that the evangelical history, in the most important particulars, runs parallel with the Mosaic. Christianity lay in Judaism as leaves and fruits do in the seed, though certainly it needed the divine sun to bring them forth.”
Obs. 4. Unbelievers, wise in perceiving the intimate and abiding connection existing between the Old and New Tests., attack the Old with the correct opinion, that just in proportion as they can show that the Old is “antiquated, unreliable, uncertain” in its utterances, etc., to the same extent will they lessen the authority and force of the New. Knowing full well, as the majority of writers on Inspiration hold, that both are equally inspired and of equal authority, and that both are to be interpreted as the continuous Word of God, they believe that if one falls the other must also suffer. This teaches us, therefore, how guarded we should be in lowering the standard of the Old, lest by so doing, in so far the efforts of destructive tendencies are countenanced.[*]
Note. Here, as our argument will develop more fully hereafter, is the fatal defect in the system of the Socinians (Hagenbach’s His. of Doc., vol. 2, sec. 242), who receive only the New Test. as canonical; the Old Test. having only a historical value, useful but not necessary to be read, etc. Its importance and exceeding value as a doctrinal basis, is by them, and others, too much ignored; and the inevitable result is the utter impossibility of recognizing the Theocratic Personage in Jesus as covenanted. It is well to notice, that at the very time God is raising up eminent men to defend the necessary intimate relationship of the Old and New Tests., and that both must be conjoined to give us a true conception of the Divine Purpose in Redemption—both being indispensable—prominent persons also arise (even in the pale of, and enjoying the emoluments of the church), who persistently attack the authenticity, credibility, and inspiration of the Old Test., especially of the Pentateuch. The recent efforts of Colenso in this direction are fresh in the reader’s mind. The attack, if successful, would invalidate the truth of Christianity itself; for such is the connection existing between Moses and Christ that both stand or fall together. An eminent Jewish Rabbi in the Jewish Chronicle, quoted in The Israelite Indeed for Oct., 1863, argues, justly, that if the Pentateuch is not in the main the product of Moses, or at least worthy of reception as divine, then it must be an “impudent forgery,” and the prophets, Jesus, and the Evangelists, who all received it “in its present shape” as genuine, etc., are all equally guilty of gross deception. The Rabbi presses this, quoting Luke 16:31, etc., and shows the inconsistency of Colenso’s a position (still retaining the New Test. as inspired) by stating that if Jesus was not inspired when He assumed the truth of the Pentateuch and applied it in teaching, “neither can He be regarded as infallible with respect to His application of passages from the prophets of Judah and the Psalms.” There is no logical escape from this dilemma; any lowering of the Old Test. inevitably recoils upon the New. Conway, in correspondence with Cin. Com., May 31, 1879, says: “The learned Prof. Sepp, of Munich University, is writing a remarkable series of articles in the Allgemeine Zeitung, in which he advocates the discarding of the Old Test. altogether as the basis of Christianity.” “Dr. David Asher, a learned Jew, answers: ‘If he (Sepp) should carry his point, he would, indeed, widen the breach between Judaism and Christianity. But the question is, Who would be the greater loser by the process?’ ” Draper (His. Conflict, p. 225) very coolly advises the Christian Church not to burden itself with the Pentateuch, but to relegate it back to the Jews; and if this gratuitous counsel (so sagely proffered) were adopted, he would be the first to show how destructive, in its logical sequence, it would be to Christianity. Others, observing the disintegrating efforts of professed believers which destroy the unity, sarcastically (as Mill) refer to those who believe the Bible to be one book; some sneeringly assert that the only union to be found existing is that in the line of “Jewish ideas and prejudices.” Rogers (Superh. Orig. of the Bible, Ap. p. 441) refers to Alexander’s Connection and Harmony of the Old and New Tests., Lord Hatherley’s Continuity of the Bible, and to a work entitled Divine Footprints in the Bible, as enforcing this intimate connection, and then adds: “Many in our day, as well as some in former times, would endeavor to extricate Christianity from certain difficulties by cutting the ligaments between it and Judaism. They would displace it from what they regard its precarious foundations in the Old Test. I am profoundly convinced that this cannot be done without leaving both in ruins.” He then quotes Herder (Pref. to Spirit of Heb. Poetry), who, notwithstanding his free spirit of criticism, writes: “Der Grund der Theologie ist die Bibel, und der Grund des N. T. ist das alte. Unmöglich verstehen wir jenes recht, wenn wir dieses nicht verstehen; denn Christenthum ist aus dem Judenthum hervorgegangen, der Genius der Sprache ist in beiderlei Büchern derselbe,” etc.
Obs. 5. Martensen, a most estimable writer, gives the keynote to a prevailing treatment of the Old Test. He, whilst recognizing the importance and value of the Old, makes it too subsidiary to the New, opening a wide gap for varied interpretation, in declaring, that “the contents (of the Old) cannot be received by the Christian mind as present truths without being regenerated by the new Spirit of Christianity, and in various respects reconstructed.” Alas! to this specious “regeneration” and to this subtle “spirit of reconstruction,” which is only another mode of expressing a spiritualizing and accommodating interpretation, we are indebted for an ignoring of the plain oath-bound covenants of God the covenanted and predicted Messianic Kingdom.[*]
Note. This position, so unjust to the Old Test., is based on the idea that the Old Test. is superseded by the New, and that the interpretation of the Old, as once held by the Jews, is antagonistic to the New, and that, consequently, the literal, grammatical sense must give place to another, additional one grafted upon the Old. This whole theory is a violation of the laws of language, of the Revelation of God’s Purposes as given to ancient believers and trusted in by them, and it places the Israelites, before the Advent, in the posture of an ignorant, self-deceived people who trusted in a grammatical sense which is a lie—in plainly expressed covenants and promises which, as understood by them, they never comprehended. In brief, it makes God teaching what they could not understand, prophesying what they could not apprehend, and developing a faith and hope that can never be realized. Besides this, the reader will observe that Martensen’s notion takes it for granted that the New Test. is well understood. This idea forms one of the rules that Waldegrave presents in his Lectures on New Test. Millenarianism; but unfortunately for its successful application, those who employ it—owing to the various engrafted senses—are not agreed among themselves respecting large portions of the New Test., because of their adopted system of interpretation. Briefly, no student can afford to occupy such an exclusive position; the true scholarly method, commended by common sense and due respect for God’s whole Word, is to interpret both by the same laws of language, and to observe, on any given subject, which part, the Old or the New, advances the most revelation or information, receiving the same as of equal authority.
Obs. 6. The Kingdom being a leading subject of many portions of the Old Test., a subject specially mentioned in covenant and prophecy, it is utterly impossible to understand it properly without passing over the same. This is realized the more, if it is considered that the doctrine originates in the Old Test.; that the New Test. in its opening takes a knowledge of the Old for granted; that in view of such a previous obtained information important details given in the Old are either slightly presented or omitted in the New; and that, aside from the Apocalypse, the most glowing and extended descriptions pertaining to the Kingdom, as God’s predictions relating to it receive an ample verification, are still found in the Old. It is not uncharitable to suspect, that one reason why so many meanings and contradictory definitions are given to the Kingdom, arises from the neglect—conscious or unconscious, designed or undesigned—of the Old Test. Scriptures, or, from an artful, misleading, but well-intended exaltation of the New over the Old, as if some great and vital difference existed between them instead of their being inseparably one.[*]
Note. Many have the mistaken notion that the instruction of the Old Test. is solely elementary, being supplemented by that of the New Test. This is taught in many of our Systematic Theologies (e.g., Knapp, etc.); but this is evidently an error, seeing that much of the Old Test. remains yet to be fulfilled; that Peter (2 Pet. 1:19) tells believers to take heed of the sure word of prophecy as to a light until the day of Christ appears; that Paul (2 Tim. 3:14–17) exhorts a minister to apply himself to the Old Test. Scriptures, not to obtain elementary knowledge but to perfect himself; that Christians are directed by the apostles to find the hope of Salvation, the promises of completed Redemption in the Scriptures previously given; and that constant reference is made to the Old Test. as the storehouse of promised deliverance given in covenant and prophecy. It is true that some things in the Old Test. are elementary, such as typical and provisionary institutions, but to make all fall into the same category is doing the grossest violence to its contents and the example of the first believers. It appears that the main passage of Scripture, which led to such an unjust inference and discrimination, is the one in Matt. 11:11. How this verse is to be understood will appear hereafter, as we shall examine it in detail, on account of the varied use to which it is put. It is to be regretted that able advocates of Christianity fall into this notion. Thus, e.g., Van Oosterzee (Ch. Dog., vol. 1, p. 17) says, that “the writings of the New Test. must be placed before those of the Old,” and approvingly quotes J. Müller: “It is to the writings of the New Test. that the dogmatic proof must return to found its dogmas securely on Christ Himself.” This is simply, as already shown, a one-sided discrimination. Now whilst the New Test. is exceedingly precious, cannot be neglected without vital defect, gives us the desired proof in and through Jesus Christ how the Old Test. and New Test. promises can be fulfilled, and teaches us in the plainest manner how to attain Salvation through Jesus, etc., yet much, very much doctrinally expressed in the New finds its true basis back in the Old. This the apostles, the Evangelists, yea, Jesus, teach us when appealing to the Old as fulfilled, e.g., in the Person, character, life, sufferings, etc., of Jesus. The Messiahship of the promised David’s Son is delineated in the Old Test., and in deciding the doctrinal question of the Messiahship of Jesus, the question must be answered, whether the Christ of the New Test. corresponds in all respects with the Christ covenanted and promised in the Old. This simple illustration shows that we are not at liberty to exalt the one portion above the other, but that both are indispensable and mutually confirm each other. Admitting fully that the New contains in a large measure the sufficient provisionary for Salvation, yet the grand theme of both is Salvation, and the Old, in view of its unfulfilled portions, etc., is far more than a “preliminary training.” If the rule given by Oosterzee (Ch. Dog., vol. 1, p. 169) be admitted, it will, if logically applied, give the preference to the Old instead of the New. The rule is: “A part of Scripture has so much the higher value in proportion as it is of greater importance for our knowledge of the Kingdom of God.” For, as will be shown, the covenants and prophecies (which the New Test. takes so largely for granted as well known) relating to the Kingdom, and fundamental to its comprehension, are in the Old Test.—yea, our chief knowledge is derived therefrom, and, therefore, the Old cannot be inferior to the New. Oosterzee and Müller forget where the dogmatical ground was in the quite early church, before the New Test. was written, or formed into a canon.