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OF HIS HISTORY AND TIMES.
ALFRED EDERSHEIM, M.A. (OXON.), D.D.,
VICAR OF LODERS.
THE RELIGIOUS TRACT SOCIETY,
56 PATERNOSTER ROW; 65 ST. PAUL'S CHURCHYARD ;
THIS book, which now appears in a revised form, does not lay claim to be either a Critical or a Historical Commentary, but is intended to follow the Scriptural account of the Life and Work of the Prophet Elisha with the view of pointing out their moral, and learning their lessons, as applicable to all times, and especially to our own. This will explain the absence of exegetical notes, and of all discussion of the points which have been raised, more particularly in connection with this portion of the Old Testament. For the treatment of such questions, as well for the History of that period generally, I must take leave to refer to the corresponding volume of my "Bible-History."
But, still a doctrinal, and, to a certain extent, a critical inference is here forced upon us at the outset. For, a record, so full of the miraculous, which yet can be analysed in all its parts, taken in its literality, and made, portion by portion, the basis of practical lessons, must be capable of rational and scientific defence; a life many centuries ago and under so different circumstances, that speaks to the men of all generations, and more especially to us, the same lessons of God, of His reign and of His grace; of faith, hope, and duty, which it did to them of old, cannot have been legendary, must have been real, God-sent and God-missioned: prophetic. For, this is characteristic of the Prophet: not that he merely foretold the future, nor yet that he admonished as from God in regard to the present, nor even that he
combined these two; but that he foretold the future in its bearing on the present, and spake of the present as viewing it in the light of the future, and that he did both as commissioned of God, inspired by God, and working for God. And this, indeed, is the inmost character and the outmost vindication of Revelation itself. Thus, the practical application of the history of Elisha is, in this view of it, also its best critical defence and its historical evidence.
These remarks are, of course, not intended in any wise to keep out of view the strictly miraculous in the record of Elisha's Life. This is not only ever present, but occurs in the history of Elijah and of Elisha, so to speak, in perhaps a more concrete form than in any other portion of the Old Testament. Some of the special reasons for it have been indicated in another place. But, in general, not to speak of the "need be" of teaching by miracles in the times of old, the miraculous is the necessary light upon what is called the Covenant-History, that is, on the record of God's dealings with His people of old. It both shows these dealings to have been Divine, and it teaches their meaning. It is the revealing of Revelation; the disclosure to them of old, and the evidence to us, that what God had spoken and done, was said and done by God. Without it the path on which God led His people of old, and the voice by which He spake to them, would be undistinguishable. Thus the miraculous is not outside of, forms not an addition to, but is an essential and integral part of the history of the Old Testament and of the people of God.
But we go further. For, to us at least, it is becoming increasingly clear, that the miraculous constitutes one of the necessary conditions of all theistic thinking. The Being and Presence of God is the miraculous, and it implies the *See the preface to vol. v. of the "Bible-History."
miraculous for He is the Living and the True God, and not merely Law or Force; but rather Force and Law are the outcome and the manifestation of God. On any theory therefore, which admits the Being and Presence of God, the miraculous must be the ever present, which, resting on the past, points to the future. Creation is a miracle, equal to, if not greater than any recorded in the Scriptures, and it points to the miracle of Resurrection. The Creation of the present world, out of the elements of a perished world, is as miraculous as the new Creation out of the ruins of the old; and so Creation is not only the analogon, but the basis, the symbol, and the type of the Resurrection. As facts they are both equally miraculous: above and beyond the observed laws, order, and succession of natural events, and the operation of what are called Natural Causes, that is, of such as fall within the province of reason and observation. They are miracles,
which can neither be explained nor demonstrated, but which necessarily spring from that which implies all Miracles and makes them rational: the Being and the Presence of the Living God, and His purpose of love. And so man, the first Adam, was a miracle; and so the God-man, the second Adam is a miracle, only that, given the first miracle of the Creation, the second miracle of the Resurrection seems almost its sequence; and given the miracle of the first Adam, that of the second, the Lord from heaven, seems not only theologically but almost logically necessary. And all the miraculous in sacred history between these two extreme points, by which, in a sense, all history has become sacred, and attained a meaning, may be described as the links which bind the first and the last, the beginning and the end, into one bright Chain. That Chain is at the same time also the Chain of the Promises, of which in Christ is the Yea and through Him the Amen to the glory of God.