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still more perhaps from the absence of any allusion to the destruction of the Temple. That event, if it had already occurred, would have rendered superfluous any other proof of the transitory and imperfect nature of the Old Testament dispensation.
4. Its Character and Contents. In many respects this book has more of the character of a treatise than of a letter. Its great theme is the superiority of Christianity to Judaism. This superiority it proves not so much by minimising the old covenant-which Paul had been obliged to do in vindicating the freedom of his Gentile converts—as by magnifying the new in the sense of its being a fulfilment of the old.
The epistle may be divided into two parts, the first mainly of an argumentative or expository character, the second chiefly hortatory and practical.2
(1) In the former the writer seeks to establish the supremacy of Christ and of the Christian Dispensation, After the opening statement as to the divine revelation being completed and concentrated in the “Son," he proceeds to show His superiority to the angels (through whom the Law was believed to have been given), to Moses and to Joshua.3 But his main efforts are directed to proving Christ's superiority and that of His religion to the sacerdotal system of the Jews. He shows that Christ, while possessing in common with Aaron all the qualifica
i The new is pronounced “ better." Cf. vii. 19: "better hope"; viii. 6: "better promises,” “better covenant"; ix. II:
more perfect tabernacle"; ix. 23: “better sacrifices"; xi. 16: "better country," &c.
The argument is a fortiori—hence the frequency of the expression “how much more,
or its equivalents. “Hetreats the Temple and the High Priest with profound respect. Christianity is represented as a sublimated, completed, idealised Judaism. He dwells with loving detail on the imposing splendour of the Tabernacle, and shows us the High Priest entering the
awful darkness of the Holiest Place, and
2 (1) i. ---X. 18; (2) X. 19—-xiii.
tions of a true priest, belongs to a higher order of priesthood, represented not by Aaron but by Melchizedek. In the story of the meeting of Melchizedek with Abraham and the prophetic allusions to the former, he finds many reasons of an allegorical nature to justify this view. He represents the Head of the Christian Church as the possessor of an unchangeable priesthood, secured by the divine oath-not transitory, but permanent-exercised not on earth but in heaven-constituted “not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life.” A similar superiority is proved to belong to the Christian Dispensation, with its law written on the heart, and its sacrifice offered “once for all” in a “tabernacle not made with hands," whereby Christ hath “through his own blood” “obtained eternal redemption." 3
(2) In the course of the argument occasional exhortations and warnings are introduced. But the practical application
2 Gen. xiv. 18-20: “And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was priest of God Most High. And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of God Most High, possessor of heaven and earth: and blessed be God Most High, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him a tenth of all.” Ps. cx. 4: “The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek." This is all the information regarding Melchizedek that we find in the Old Testament. The remarkable significance attached to it in this epistle (chaps. V.—vii.) is an evidence that the writer belonged to the Alexandrian school of thought, and had been influenced by the writings of Philo. In many other passages a resemblance can be traced not only to the writings of Philo, but also to the Book of Wisdom. One of the leading traits of the epistle is "that philosophy of ideas which Philo borrowed from Plato. The key-note of the reasoning of the epistle is found in the quotation, 'See thou make all things after the pattern shewed thee in the mount.' He regarded the visible world as only the shadow of the invisible. To him
the reality of all phenomena depended exclusively on the unseen, pre-existent, eternal Noumena." Cf. viii. 5: who serve that which is a copy and shadow of the heavenly things, even as Moses is warned of God when he is about to make the tabernacle : for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern that was shewed thee in the mount"; ix. 23, 24: “It was necessary therefore that the copies of the things in the heavens should be cleansed with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ entered not into a holy place made with hands, like in pattern to the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear before the face of God for us,” &c. 3 viii.-X.18.
Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things that were heard, lest haply we drift away from them. For if the word spoken through angels proved stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward; how shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation"? iii. 7-13:
Take heed, brethren, lest haply there shall be in any one of you an evil heart of unbelief, in falling away from the living God: but exhort one another day by day, so long
4 ji. 1-4:
is mainly reserved for the concluding chapters. After exhorting his readers to avail themselves of the "new and living way” which has been thus consecrated for them into “the holy place,” and warning them against the terrible consequences of apostasy,' he comforts their hearts with the assurance that though they may be disowned by the sacerdotal leaders at Jerusalem, they are in the true line of fellowship with the saints and holy men of old, whose devotion had been shown, not by the observance of an outward ceremonial, but by faith in the unseen. In the next chapter, after exhorting them to patience under their trials through the sustaining power of God's fatherly love, he introduces a striking contrast between the terrors of Sinai and the attractive glories of Mount Zion. In the
as it is called To-day; lest any one of
1 x. 26-31 : “For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgement, and a fierceness of fire which shall devour the adversaries. A man that hath set at nought Moses' law dieth without compassion on the word of two or three witnesses : of how much sorer punishment, think ye, shall he be judged worthy, who hath trodden under foot
the Son of God, and hath counted the
2 x. 19—xi.
3 xii. 18-24: "For ye are not come unto a mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, and unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest, and the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; which voice they that heard intreated that no word more should be spoken unto them: for they could not endure that which was enjoined, If even a beast touch the mountain, it shall be stoned ; and so fearful was the appearance, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake: but ye are come unto mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable hosts of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made
last chapter he gives a number of salutary counsels and admonitions, in the course of which he calls upon his readers to go forth unto Jesus “without the camp, bearing his reproach," as Jesus Himself “suffered without the gate." He exhorts them to offer the sacrifices of praise and well-doing which are required of the Christian, and bids them render obedience to their ecclesiastical superiors. The epistle concludes with a request for their prayers on behalf of the writer, that he “may be restored to (them) the sooner," followed by a beautiful benediction, and a few last words of personal explanation and greeting.2 perfect, and to Jesus the mediator of 20-25: “Now the God of peace, who a new covenant, and to the blood of brought again from the dead the great sprinkling that speaketh better than that shepherd of the sheep with the blood of of Abel.'
the eternal covenant, even our Lord 1 xiii. 15-17: “Through him then let Jesus, make you perfect in every good us offer up a sacrifice of praise to God thing to do his will, working in us that continually, that is, the fruit of lips which is well-pleasing in his sight, which make confession to his name. through Jesus Christ; to whom be the But to do good and to communicate glory for ever and ever. Amen. But I forget not: for with such sacrifices God exhort you, brethren, bear with the word is well pleased. Obey them that have of exhortation : for I have written unto the rule over you, and submit to them: you in few words. Know ye that our for they watch in behalf of your souls, brother Timothy hath been set at liberty; as they that shall give account; that with whom, if he come shortly, I will see they may do this with joy, and not with you. Salute all them that have the rule grief: for this were unprofitable for over you, and all the saints. They of you."
Italy salute you. Grace be with you all. 2 xiii. 18, 19 (quoted on page 212); Amen."
THE CATHOLIC EPISTLES.
THERE are seven epistles which from the fourth century have gone under the name of the Catholic (or General) Epistles, viz. James; 1 and 2 Peter; 1, 2, 3 John; and Jude. They were so called in contradistinction to Paul's epistles, which, with the exception of the Pastoral Epistles and Philemon, appeared to be addressed to individual Churches, also seven in number. In most of the Greek MSS. the Catholic epistles stand next to the Book of Acts, although they were much later than the epistles of Paul in obtaining general recognition in the Church.?
THE GENERAL EPISTLE OF JAMES."
1. Authorship. In common with four other of the Catholic epistles, viz., 2 Peter, 2 and 3 John, and Jude, this epistle is described by Eusebius (about 325 A.D.) as a disputed book of the New Testament, in the sense of not being universally acknowledged by the Church.
1 " In this sense the term was first applied by Origen to the First Epistle of Peter and the First Epistle of John. Afterwards, but before the time of Eusebius, it was used to denote the whole seven Epistles as being descriptive of their nature, the Second and Third Epistles of John being considered as an appendix to the First. In process of time it became a technical term, used to designate that group of Epistles as distinguished from the other three groups of writings in the New Testament, namely, the Gospels and the
Acts, the Pauline Epistles, including the Hebrews, and the Apocalypse, and thus lost, in a measure, its primary meaning.”—Gloag on The Catholic Epistles, p. 7:
2 The position of this book in the list of the Catholic Epistles is attributed by Bede to the primacy of James in the early Church of Jerusalem, and to his connection with the Twelve Tribes, who were the first to receive the Gospel.
3 The Hebrew original of the name is Jacob.