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If so,

was not observed prior to the exile. It also prevents the adoption of the conclusion that they had no previous existence. Indeed, it is not uncommon in history that certain institutions are forgotten and buried under others that have assumed their place; or that certain laws, and even codes, become obsolete and forgotten ; or, indeed, that certain codes, as well as laws, never go into operation in the life and experience of the people. It is also not uncommon in the history of opinion for earlier opinions to pass out of use and become utterly forgotten with their authors. The argument of silence cannot go beyond the ground covered, and can prove nothing as to the existence of those codes and institutions prior to the literature which is silent about them and ignores them.

The argument from silence is capable of vast illustration. There are many important points that we have not had time or space to present, such as the silence of the Pentateuchal narratives as to the period of the captivity in Egypt, and the prolonged wanderings of Israel in the wilderness. These are dark spots in the midst of full and elaborate narratives. Would Moses be likely to pass these periods over in silence if he wrote the narratives of the Pentateuch? what were his reasons for the silence in this case? It could not be from ignorance : it must have been intentional; and what good reason can be given? If these narratives were not written by Moses, does the silence imply ignorance, and show that the author had no materials or sources of information as to these events? We suggest these as specimens of inquiry as to the force of silence in the Historical books.

Thus far our induction of the facts of the case leads us. We have established the following forms of the argument from silence :

I. The matter in question lies beyond the scope of the author's argument. It is then (a) an absence of evidence as to the matter in question, or (1) an evidence that it did not possess any of those characteristics that would bring it within the author's scope.

II. The matter in question lies within the author's scope of argument. It was, then, omitted (a) for good and sufficient reasons, intentionally, or (5) unconsciously, from ignorance of the matter.

III. The argument from silence is cumulative, as it extends over a number of writings, of different authors, of different classes of writings, and different periods of history. In this case it implies either (a) external restraint for good reasons, or (b) a public ignorance, and, in the case of institutions and laws, a non-observance of them.

Romans IX.-XI.



HIS section of the Epistle to the Romans contains a discussion

of the question Why God rejected the Jews, and how this consists with His original choice of them to be His people? Does not this imply a failure of His word, and so a change in the immutable God? Paul sees that it does, if the choice was, as the Jews supposed, a selection of them as a nation, irrespective of other considerations. And, therefore, his first argument is intended to show that the divine choice was not based on considerations of heredity simply. The original promise was to Abraham and to his seed, and yet not to his seed as such, but to a part of it only, making a choice among his children, on some other basis than mere descent, necessary. In contrast with this, he shows that it was not the mere child of Abraham's body, but a child of promise, a child coming to him as the direct and supernatural result of a divine promise, in whose line the chosen people are to be found. Then, even in the children of this child of promise, there is a further discrimination made, one being taken and the other left. And here Paul takes up another theory of the ground of choice, and shows that it does not apply to this case, and is, therefore, untenable. It had been supposed that the Jews were chosen on account of their good works. But in this case, certainly, in which the promise precedes the birth of the children, it did not originate in their works, but in the God who called them to their several positions. And yet it was not an arbitrary choice, for, as Paul shows by a quotation of Malachi i. 2, 3, it was based on God's love of the one, and His hatred of the other. And love and hatred are not arbitrary or voluntary feelings, but the necessary results of qualities in the object; that is, the love of being as such is indiscriminative, and has its root in the person loving only ; but the love that implies choice and corresponding hatred is based on the qualities of the person loved.

But in thus carrying the matter back to God, and not resting it on the desert of the person chosen, is there not involved an imputation on the divine righteousness? Is not God under obligation to give to every man his deserts? The reply to this is the familiar and fundamental Pauline axiom, that this whole matter is not one of retributive justice, but of mercy; and that mercy is self-moved, or, in any case, is not determined by desert. It is not the will or endeavor of the man that produces it, but the very nature of the merciful God. The example that Paul adduces of this principle is not, as we should expect, from the number of the chosen, but from the enemies of God whom He rejects. “For this reason," God said to Pharaoh,“ did I provoke thee, that I may show in thee my power, and that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth.” Therefore, since God has purposes to be accomplished by the pity shown to one, and by the hardening accomplished in another, both are to be traced originally to God's active volition. Now, this is a very important item in the final determination of the apostle's meaning. For this hardening is what makes operative and manifest the divine rejection, and its exact opposite would be not the mercy itself, but that softening which manifests the divine mercy and choice. And if the one is to be traced to an action of God beyond what appears, and which is compulsory and creative in its nature, as is claimed for the gracious action, then the conjunction of the two in this discussion, so that either can be used as an illustration of the principle of God's spiritual action upon men, would seem to demand that the act of hardening be also the simple result of God's action, and not the complex result of that action, together with the yielding or resistance of the man ; that is to say, inasmuch as Paul uses an instance of God's hardening action as an illustration of His gracious action, it follows that there must be an identity of principle in the two; and that if the one is purely a divine act without buman co-operation, then the other must be the same. In fact, this case of the hardening of Pharaoh is very helpful in determining the scriptural answer to the question whether God's spiritual action in changing and directing the moral attitude of men is absolute and creative, or only influential, depending for its result on the response of men. At the beginning, Ex. iv. 21, God announces His purpose to harden Pharaoh's heart, so that he will not let the people go. Then, there follows a series of signs wrought by Aaron and Moses, but paralleled by the magicians with their enchantments, in which the hardening that results is natural, and easily accounted for. But after the second plague, Pharaoh relents, and the plague is removed. Then, we are told that when he saw that there was respite, he hardened his heart, and hearkened not unto them, as Jehovah had said. Here, the hardening results from the withdrawal of the punishment that had produced his relenting - again a perfectly natural result --and said, expressly in this case, to be Pharaoh's own act. God's part in the matter is simply His providential and miraculous action, intended and adapted to influence the king, and dependent for its result on the response of Pharaoh to it.

After the third plague, which the magicians could not produce, and in which they told Pharaoh that he must recognize the hand of God, he was still hardened, - this time, evidently, as a result of that law of spiritual action by which sin tends to repetition and reproduction. Having hardened himself before, it is easier now to do the same. And so on, through a series of judgments and mercies on the part of God, and of alternate repentings and hardenings in Pharaoh, ending in the final sin of the king after he had let the people go. God even warns Pharaoh in the passage from which Paul quotes, Ex. ix. 14 sq., of the result that these judgments and deliverances will have on him. Now, in order to suppose that God works secretly and supernaturally to harden Pharaoh's heart, we have to introduce the supernatural to account for a perfectly natural result; and we have to suppose that God works outwardly to accomplish one thing, and inwardly, another directly opposite to it. For these divine warnings, judgments, and mercies are intended to lead Pharaoh to release God's people, and any direct hardening would be, therefore, self-contradictory in God. And yet, whatever means God uses to accomplish this class of spiritual results in man are pointed out by Paul as employed by Him also in His gracious, spiritual action. For the very thing that he illustrates by this example is the relation of God to human character and destiny; and if that relation is not the same in both cases, then the illustration is irrelevant. But is there no direct action of God in producing this result? The language employed is partly explained by this fact of God's influence upon men by means of motives; and yet, if there is any more immediate operation not excluded by other considerations, the strong language used seems to demand it. A supernatural change does seem to be excluded; but we have already seen that there is a hardening, dulling, or blinding effect produced on the spiritual nature by sin. And this, like every other natural effect, is the operation of a divine law, or more strictly the work of God under law. If I disobey any law of my being, the consequences that I suffer are from God; and this is true of the spiritual deterioration resulting from sin, as of any other self-inflicted injury, only this is not an arbitrary or supernatural effect; it is strictly under law, and, in a certain sense, conditioned by my action.

And yet again, the statements of the apostle so far have been such

as to exclude the supposition that the originating cause of the divine mercy can be in the man himself. Mercy is undeserved and free ; it originates not in the will or endeavor of man, but in the merciful nature of God. God's choice of men, in the apostle's thought, is not of those who have of themselves sought Him out, but of those whom He has sought and drawn by His love to Himself. The first step in the approach of God and man to each other is taken by God. There is a mercy of God that precedes and produces the repentance of man, which is merely the response of man to the merciful God.

These three things, the precedent action of God, the response of man, and the final impress of God on human character, as the resultant of these two, fill out the apostle's thought so far. No one of them can be omitted without doing violence to some part of that thought.

But it is the part of God in this that has been made most prominent, more prominent than it is eventually. The human element has been implied, or hinted at, rather than expressed. And so the apostle meets the objection right here, that this seems to throw the responsibility of human character on God. If God pities whom He will, and hardens whom He pleases, why, He cannot find fault with them; for they are what He makes them ; no one has resisted His hidden, inscrutable, irresistible will. His first answer to this is the presumptuousness of the question. Man is clay in the hands of the potter, and the potter has the right to make different vessels, some for honor and some for dishonor, out of the clay. And so God has the right to make out of our common humanity different men for different uses and destinies. But is this a right of mere power and sovereignty? Let us listen closely to the language, and see if it yields us the unwelcome idea that might makes right. Suppose that we leave it in this way, retaining all the power that there is in the apostle's statement. Has not man, any man, the right to fashion clay as he pleases? This is immensely different from Paul's statement, and yet there is the same power in it. But what gives the potter his right is his skill to fashion the clay. We have to introduce into Paul's question the attributes of God, the divine holiness, justice, and love, by which He, if any, can mould and fashion human spirit to the best advantage, and not simply His sovereign right to do as He pleases, to make Him the potter of this human clay. And then we have to remember what Paul means here by God's forming of us. It is not our creation, but the shaping of our character that is intended, that long spiritual process by which nature becomes character, by which tendencies are moulded into traits, and Auctuating

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