Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The Standing Use and Authority of the Old Testament (Part 1)

This and the following two posts are an article published in the January 1855 issue of the Reformed Presbyterian. No author is named.

"All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness;" and this applies to the Old as well as to the New Testament. The practice of placing these two portions of Holy Writ in contrast, as if to show that the former no longer continues to be a rule of faith and manners, is extremely absurd, and evinces deplorable ignorance of the spirit and tenor of the Scriptures. God is one, he changeth not; and, therefore, his revelations to man exhibit constantly and connectedly his abiding moral character. Although some parts of his Word may, and when necessary for us, do, condescend to the low position, attainments, and habits of those to whom they are committed, or they may respect observances enjoined on the Old Testament church, the obligation of which passes away in the lapse of time; yet we are not to conclude that these are useless or unimportant portions. Far from it, for even in these the authority and character of the one unchanging Jehovah are abundantly evident, and their study assists us in our conceptions of the Most High, and in estimating our duty towards him. Taken as a whole, the authority of the Old is established by the very same argument as that of the New Testament, and the reasoning in the case is, if possible, more manifest and conclusive, and the evidence more overpowering. The writers of the Old Testament appeal to miracles in proof of their mission, and some of these are most wonderful. But waiving this consideration, we may notice that the prophecies contained in many of the books are alone sufficient to establish their divine authority.

1st. The prophecies regarding the Jewish nation are most remarkable, relating to their days of prosperity and adversity, their captivities and returns, their being outcasts among the nations, and their final restoration to their own land. In short, all the particulars of that people's history are recorded with minutest accuracy of detail from the writers' days down along the future; and we have but to read the Old Testament, to this day, in order to know the past, present, and future condition of the Israelitish nation.

2d. The predictions about our Savior are full and varied, and manifest their divine origin. Every trait in his character is fully displayed; all his mediatorial engagements from everlasting or ever the earth was, his unique sufferings, and his unparalleled rewards are unfolded in the Old Testament in the ancient solitary predictions - in a ritual burdened with the announcement of a Savior to come - in the beautifully pure and spiritual Messianic Psalms, exalted in thought to the very throne of the Eternal - in the singularly graphic, but glowing descriptions of enraptured prophets, carried away without and above themselves in heavenly visions. In all, the conceptions as they are presented to us in the Old Testament are not only elevating, they are above all mere human efforts, and divine. And thus presented and accredited, the history of the Covenant of Grace is more full in many respects in the Old than in the New Testament.

3d. The miraculous preservation of these writings is a most powerful argument for their authority. Since they were written, nations great and mighty, that figured in earth's history, have passed away; monuments have crumbled into dust; tomes innumerable have perished in Old Time's withering embrace; and now, in these last days, even his own eventful youth had become shrouded in oblivion, but for these ancient writings, which, dictated and preserved by him who directs all events, have survived all changes - dare we say it - unchanged as their Author. Internally considered, their authority and use cannot be questioned. The grand system of morals which they contain, owes its origin to God alone. It is pure, simple, unsparing and comprehensive, every way manifesting the holy, just, and wise character of the one true and eternal God; and its use and importance are unchanging and constant. The standing, use and authority of the Old Testament are clearly proved from the teaching of Christ and his apostles. They seem to have inculcated most particularly the study of the Bible, in order that the character and doctrines of the Messiah may be properly understood. Not only are the prophets, who foretold Christ, introduced to upbraid their ignorance; but the books of Moses, the Psalms, and every department of the Old Testament are made the basis of their remarks, and brought to bear on the things then being accomplished.

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