CLIII. The Old Testament.

ROM. xv. 4. “For what-
soever things were written aforetime were written for our learn-
ing, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures
might have hope.”

THE things written in the bygone ages of Israel were
written for the learning of Christians, that they through
the perseverance and comfort which Scripture teaches
might have hope in what is still an anxious future.
I. Consider what St. Paul’s readers would understand
by these words. The Roman Christians would not have
understood, by the word Scriptures, the whole Christian
Bible of our day, but only the Old Testament. With one
exception, this word “Scriptures” is used in this restricted
sense throughout the New Testament. St. Paul told the
Romans that if they would, they might get patience, con-
solation, and hope out of the records of ancient Israel; for
what God had been to Israel of old, that He was still, and
ever would be. St. Paul’s words means much more than
this to us. The twenty-seven books of the New Testament
are now included in the word “Scriptures,” and all these
Scriptures, new and old, are written for our learning. Our
business is to make the most of the lesson.
II. The true purpose of Holy Scripture. It is a manual
of moral or spiritual learning. It is, if you will, a book
for the understanding; but much more, it is a book for the
spirit and for the heart. Many other kinds of learning are
found in the Bible. It is a manual of Eastern antiquities,
a handbook of political experiences, a collection of moral
wisdom as applied to personal conduct, a mine of poetry,
a choice field for the study of languages; but this is not
the learning which St. Paul says the Scriptures are meant
to teach Christians. “That we through patience and com-
fort of the Scriptures might have hope.” That is the end
of the highest learning which Scripture has to give us.
Scripture teaches over and above something which does
generate patience, comfort, hope; it reveals God in His
attributes of righteousness and mercy, and in His astonish-
ing intervention on the scene of human history in the
person of His incarnate Son.
The Bible is the book of God, and therefore it is the
book of the future, the book of hope. It pierces the veil
between this and another life, pointing us on to the realms
of light. The encouragement of hope is what St. Paul
here insists on, and we need hope. In sorrow, in sin, and
in death we may, if we will, find in Holy Scripture patience,
consolation and hope.
Henry Parry Liddon, D.C.L.

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