SIR ROBERT ANDERSON
Secret Service Theologian
AUTHOR, TEACHER AND DEFENDER OF THE FAITH
When Sir Robert Anderson was at leisure from official duties he undertook literary work in defence of Christian truth and the authority of Holy Scripture. The qualities which made him eminent in official life, together with his loyalty to truth and his incisive logic, rendered his advocacy of those causes weighty and influential.
(From a Minute of the Victoria Institute, 22nd December 1918.)
Sir Robert Andersons books are amongst the most valuable of our day, and will long abide as a testimony to the truth of the Gospel.
The Rev. W. H. Griffith Thomass, D.D., in The Evangelical Christian.
Sir Robert Anderson is in some respects the most remarkable of current writers on religious subjects, whether we consider his personal history or the range and character of his work. . . . To sit at the feet of a man with such knowledge, mental power, courage and native wit, who is at the same time Spirit.taught, is for the true Christian one of the greatest privileges.
The Rev. James M. Gray, D.D., of Chicago.
IN his Introduction to The Scarlet Letter Nathaniel
Hawthorne descants feelingly upon his incapacity for literary effort during the
years when he held an appointment in the Custom House. But there are spheres of
work in the public service compared with which the Custom House might seem
almost a sanctuary!" A quotation from the Preface of one of my fathers
books. Knowing a little of the conditions under which some at least of them
were written, one could underline the words.
Back in 1876 his old college friend Canon Teignmouth Shore asked : "How on earth have you had time to dive into theology?" And in later years Dr. A. T. Pierson wrote: "I often wonder when and how you found time to develop the 'theologian,' for I find few amongst the most acute writers on doctrine whose power to differentiate equals your own."
Altogether seventeen volumes on varied aspects of the Christian faith and life, besides three books of a secular nature and numerous pamphlets and magazine and newspaper articles, came from his pen. In many cases the aim was to help fellow- believers in the knowledge and understanding of their Bibles, and to build them up in the Faith; and the over-mastering desire to exalt the Lord Jesus Christ was ever present. Several books were concerned with the defence of the Scriptures against the errors of rationalism or superstition. In some instances the method was frankly destructive criticism of the methods and conclusions of Biblical critics. The results of prolonged study of prophecy, fulfilled and awaiting fulfilment, were seen in other works.
In one or two books the appeal was mainly to men of the world as such. Regarding one such effort, first published anonymously as A Doubter's Doubts about Science and Religion, Mr. W. E. Gladstone (British Prime Minister) wrote "I agree with you about dilapidation in some quarters and danger in more. I think that to counter-work the process and try to build up his fellow-creatures in the faith is the highest way a man has of serving them. I opine that you are not very far from this sentiment, and I heartily hope your book will be successful."
The Gospel and its Ministry, appearing in 1875, has reached sixteen editions. It deals in fresh and striking terms with the great truths of the Gospel of the Glory of the Blessed God (see i Tim. i. xi) : Grace, the Cross, Faith, Repentance and the Spirit's Work, Substitution, Righteousness, Sanctification, Reconciliation, Justification and kindred topics. Dr. Falconer, an ex-Moderator of the English Presbyterian Church, wrote to my mother:
"After checking them [Sir Robert's books] and comparing them with Ewald, A. B. Davidson, Fairbank's Typology and other writings, I am more than ever convinced that The Gospel and its Ministry is simply the classical handbook on the doctrines of grace. It should be in every minister's library. Some points of course I might put differently, but the substance of the Evangel is splendidly stated in that great book and in a style hardly any theologian can rival."
Mr. Duncan Davidson of Inchmarlo said: "I'm giving away (and studying over and over again myself) The Gospel and its Ministry. It is the only book that touches on the Godhood of God. That false general Fatherhood is lulling the multitudes to sleep." In 1892 permission was given for translation into Swedish, and a Japanese version was published in 1904, the work of the Rev. A. B. Hutchinson of the Church Missionary Society. Baron Alexander de Heeckeren asked in 1905 for permission to prepare a Dutch translation, but I do not know if this was published.
The Coming Prince was written during very busy years, much of it late at night after "overtime" official work. The title refers to "the prince that shall come" of the ninth chapter of Daniel, and the book offers a solution of the much-discussed prophecy of the "seventy weeks." This depended on fixing the date of the decree to "restore and build Jerusalem" as the 14th March 445 B.C., and on the calculation that sixty-nine sevens of prophetic years (173,880 days) from that date ended on the 6th April A.D. 32. On that day, now known to us as Palm Sunday, for the first and only time in His earthly life the Lord was publicly acclaimed as the long-looked-for King of Israel.
For ascertaining the terminus a quo the Astronomer Royal, Sir George Airy, kindly had calculations made showing that new moon occurred at Jerusalem on the 13th March 445 B.C. (444 Astronomical) at 7h. 9m. A.M. The words of the prophecy are "unto the Messiah the Prince,", and as stated above the day of the triumphal entry into the Holy City on the eve of the Crucifixion was reckoned to be the terminus ad quem.
In the Preface to the tenth edition of his book Sir Robert claimed that the searching criticism to which this elucidation of the prophecy had been subjected had failed to detect error or flaw; and that its exact fulfilment provided overwhelmingly cogent evidence for the Divine authority of Daniel. On this interpretation the seventh "week" (i.e. seven years) remains to be fulfilled. But regarding the future our author refused the temptation to attempt prediction in detail. He held unswervingly however to the conclusion that the Anti-Christ is yet to come, and that this great world-ruler for whose advent the stage is now being prepared is none other than "the prince that shall come" of Daniel's prophecy, the last great monarch of Christendom, "who by the sheer force of transcendent genius will gain a place of undisputed pre-eminence."
Amongst the changes which must precede his appearance are the restoration of the Jews to Palestine. Writing sixty years ago, before the inception of Zionism as a practical movement, the author said that the prophecies of a restored Israel seemed to many people as incredible as predictions of the triumphs of steam and electricity would have appeared a century previously. As to how this restoration might come to pass it was suggested that the decline of Moslem power along with other causes indicated might lead to the formation of a protected Jewish State, possibly with a military occupation by or on behalf of some European Power or Powers. Then "nothing more need be supposed than a religious revival among the Jews to prepare the way for the fulfilment of the prophecies." Another interesting fore-view is given in discussing the predicted division of the Roman earth about which so many guesses have been ventured by prophetic students.
"History repeats itself," wrote Sir Robert in the days of Victorian peace and security; "and if there be any element of periodicity in the political diseases by which nations are afflicted, Europe will inevitably pass through another crisis . . . and it is impossible to foretell how far kingdoms may become consolidated and boundaries changed."
In view of the European situation to-day (1946) another suggestion is of importance regarding the vision recorded in the seventh chapter of Daniel in which the four winds of Heaven strove upon the great sea and four great beasts came up from it. This has generally been taken to refer to the same Gentile kingdoms as the vision of the great image in chap.. ii., viz., Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome. But in an appendix note my father hinted that the vision might have a still future reference, allowing that (as elsewhere in Scripture) the great sea meant the Mediterranean. "May not the opening portion refer to the gigantic struggle which must come some day for supremacy in the Mediterranean?" The lion might typify Britain, and the bear represent the Russia of to-day fully as well as the Persia of Cyrus and Darius. But such suggestions were purely tentative, including the possible identification of the third beast with Germany or France.
His views were assailed with vigour by writers of the "Historical" school, notably by Dr. Grattan Guinness. But Sir Robert claimed that his writings gave proof that he thoroughly accepted a historical interpretation of prophecy; his objection was to "the system which dares to write 'fulfilled' across the prophetic page. Dr. Guinness asserts that the apocalyptic visions have been fulfilled in the events of the Christian era. I hold him to that of the sixth chapter [of the Book of Revelation]. That vision describes the tremendous events which lead men to call upon the mountains to fall on them and hide them from the face of Him that sitteth upon the Throne and from the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of His wrath is come, and who shall be able to stand?" The historical system teaches that these awful words meant nothing more than the rout of heathen hordes by Constantine! He claimed that the question was vital, for that interpretation would mean that the most awful warnings of Scripture were wild exaggeration. Further, he urged that if that vision still awaits fulfilment, so do all the prophecies which follow it in the Revelation, My father often quoted Lord Bacon's belief that many of the prophecies "have springing and germinant accomplishment throughout many ages, though the height and fulness of them may refer to some one age."
In a long Preface to the fifth edition of The Coming Prince Professor S. R. Driver's arguments against the authenticity of Daniel were subjected to analysis and criticism. A further indictment of his views as expressed in his Book of Daniel was contained in a short work entitled Daniel in the Critics' Den, the first edition of which however was in the main a reply to a book of a popular nature by Dean Farrar. In the latter all possible evidence against the authenticity of Daniel had been marshalled; and yet according to the Dean no words could exaggerate the value of this work of "avowed fiction" by some holy and gifted Jew of a later time. Historical errors were alleged; also "violent errors as to matters with which a contemporary must have been familiar." It is strange at the present date to find amongst "historical errors" the fact of the existence of Belshazzar and Darius the Mede! But space can be given' here to one point only in this attack. According to the Scripture record Belshazzar made Daniel the third ruler in the kingdom. This statement had always presented a difficulty until, the discovery that Nabonidus was king at the time and Belshazzar himself only the second ruler. Defenders of the reliability of the Bible naturally made much of this fresh evidence. Farrar's comment was: "Unhappily for their very precarious hypothesis, the translation 'third ruler' appears to be entirely untenable ; it means one of a board of three." I remember that just when my father was writing on the subject he paid one of his visits to Cambridge, and at Professor Macalister's home he met Dr. Adler (The Very Rev. Hermann Adler, D.D., LLD., Ph.D., Chief Rabbi United Hebrew Congregations of the British Empire). When the question was put to the Chief Rabbi he replied after a moment's thought - " the third ruler." He afterwards wrote
"I have carefully considered the question you laid before me at our pleasant meeting on Sunday. . . . I cannot absolutely find fault with Archdeacon Farrar, as he follows two of our Hebrew commentators of great repute. Others translate this passage as 'he shall be the third ruler in the kingdom.' This seems to be more strictly in accord with the literal meaning of the words as shown by Winer . .
A letter from Professor A. F. Kirkpatrick of Cambridge about the same time (1895) gives his view thus : "The Aramaic presents peculiar difficulties, but 'and rule as third in the kingdom' is probably the right translation." I refer to this at some length first as illustrating the recklessness of the critic in the attempt to prove his case; and also as an instance of the care my father took in preparing a reasoned defence and reply.
"A REMARKABLE TITLE, and it heralds A REMARKABLE BOOK.
We are profoundly grateful for this most striking endeavour to move a terrible stumbling block out of the way of many." The words are from a review in The Record of The Silence of God, a book written in 1897 during the Scotland Yard period. It was in a Preface to this work that my father made the reference to Nathaniel Hawthorne and The Scarlet Letter quoted at the beginning of this Chapter.
"'A Silent Heaven is the greatest mystery of our existence.' In these words the problem is stated. It is illustrated by the hideous tale of the Armenian massacres of 1895 and 1896 which raised such a storm of indignation against Turkey that the Sultan Abdul Hamid was shamed into laying aside his dignity and making his personal defence. 'But in vain do we strain our ears to hear some voice from the throne of the Divine Majesty. The far-off heaven where in perfect peace and unutterable glory God dwells and reigns is SILENT!'"
And how immeasurably greater is the mystery now in face of the horrors of the war which has just drawn to its close! But the problem includes a vast deal more - the sufferings of the martyrs the death of missionaries at the hands of those for whose sake they had gone forth; the oft-times prolonged painful illnesses of saints of God in spite of the prayers of those who love them.
The problem seems the more insoluble in view of the miracles of Divine intervention recorded in Scripture. But the book proceeds to show that miracles which were so frequent when the Lord was on earth, and in the early days of the Church as recorded in the Acts, gradually ceased before the close of that book is reached. And although there have been innumerable answers to the prayers of His people throughout the intervening centuries, the world has never witnessed any public manifestation of God's intervention.
It may be suggested that the notable instances of Divine interventiôn at Dunkirk and on other occasions during this and the last great war are evidence that the statement is not correct. They are indeed proof that God is still on the throne. But He remains within the shadows, and there is no public intervention such as would silence the scoffer.
The solution of the mystery is found in the fact that miracles are connected with the history of God's earthly people - Israel.
The Book of Acts records their final rejection, as a people, of their Messiah. The Epistle to the Romans reveals that a new dispensation had begun with the setting aside for a time of the Jews, and the proclamation of the Gospel of grace and reconciliation to all without distinction. "Grace reigns unto eternal life." The book goes on:
"A SILENT HEAVEN! Yes, but it is not the silence of callous indifference or helpless weakness. The silence is the pledge and proof that the way is open for the guiltiest of mankind to draw near to God. When that silence is broken one day it will mean the withdrawal of the amnesty : the end of the reign of grace; and the dawning of the day of wrath foretold in Scripture. God is silent now because He has spoken His last word of mercy and love in Christ. He is beseeching men to be reconciled [2 Cor. v. 20]. The One to whom all judgment has been committed, and who will appear one day as the Judge of all, is now the Saviour and is seated upon the Father's throne in grace."
A Danish version of The Silence of God, entitled Gud's Tavshed, appeared in 1917, the work of Mr. J. Fischmann of Copenhagen. I have had the pleasure of lending a copy to some of our Danish friends in Capetown.
The famous preacher Charles Haddon Spurgeon said that Human Destiny was "the most valuable contribution on the subject" that he had ever seen. In this volume various theories of Universalism, Conditional Immortality and the Wider Hope are subjected to searching investigation. The immense problems and difficulties are freely admitted ; but an appeal is made from the ideas of men to the Divine revelation regarding the tremendous question - After Death, What?
"On this subject," says the author, "'orthodoxy' has gone beyond what Scripture warrants, and 'heresy' ignores or denies some of its plainest teaching." One chapter deals with the question What is Life? An appendix discusses many passages often quoted on the subject and gives a list of differing translations of various Greek words. The pages of Human Destiny "are the reflex of the struggle by which one enquirer has escaped from the difficulties set forth in the opening chapter. Perchance the record may prove helpful to others."
Dr. Handley Moule, Bishop of Durham, contributed a Preface to The Bible and Modern Criticism and The Lord from Heaven. Of the former he wrote "What is the book? It is the free and (to use the word in its best sense) popular presentation of the results of an independent study of the New Criticism . . . done by a student entirely free from professional bias, and trained in a severe school of legal and judicial investigation to sift witnesses and to weigh evidence. In the best specimens of such study there is often a quite peculiar value, a fresh and bracing air of thought all their own, a faculty for throwing wholesome light upon subjects tangled by the over-handling of experts. Experts, as Sir Robert Anderson reminds us, are by no means as such good judges."
Any brief sketch of the argument of this book would do it scant justice, and I will not attempt an outline. But I give an example on "the lighter side "of the way in which special experience and training may be brought to bear upon the problems with which critics deal. It relates to the moral difficulties of the Old Testament. "A few years ago," Sir Robert wrote," a certain London merchant killed an unfortunate wretch whom circumstances had placed in his power. He did not actually kill him with his own hands, but he had him brought to a secluded room prepared for the purpose. And there he stood by while his victim was strangled by a man whom he had hired to do the deed. I myself examined the place. I can testify moreover that all the facts were known not only to the authorities but to the Queen. And yet not only did the homicide go unpunished, but with the full knowledge of all I have related Her Majesty singled him out for Royal favour and conferred a title upon him."
I heard my father read this paragraph to a highly intelligent and cultured friend, and I remember the horrified exclamation which escaped her, and the amazed relief with which she heard the denouement. The story goes on: "What estimate will my readers form of such conduct on the part of one [Queen Victoria] whom we have been taught to regard as a pattern and paragon of public and private virtue? But before they pass judgment they ought to know a few additional details. The victim was a condemned murderer; the man paid to strangle him was the common hangman. The secluded room was in Newgate Prison; and the merchant who received a knighthood was the Sheriff whose official duty it was to execute the criminal."
"And now," the author, continues, "the meaning of my parable will begin to dawn upon the reader. Let these added details be suppressed, and a narrative which does not contain a syllable that is untrue or even exaggerated may seem to endanger the reputation of the Queen. And it is precisely by this sort of suppression that the Bible and the God of the Bible are misrepresented. Will any person of culture in our day dare to defend the extermination of the Canaanites? Will anyone, I answer, dare to defend the strangling of a helpless wretch in a shut-in room?" Men read the Bible story, the book proceeds, in the false light of the evolution craze. They picture a number of semi-civilised tribes on the upward path of progress being exterminated by an invading horde of religious fanatics. Actually they were a degenerate race whose destruction was decreed by a God of infinite mercy, because they had given themselves up to unnatural and loathsome sin. (Archaeology has shown that they were lapsing from civilisation, not emerging from barbarism.) And God's mercy is seen in the fact that Israel were left as strangers in a foreign land for four generations, "because the iniquity of the Amorites was not yet full." Sir Robert adds in a footnote that, prior to knowledge gained at Scotland Yard, the Divine judgments on the Canaanites were a difficulty to him.
In the opinion of a reviewer in the New York Tribune the Bible and Modern Criticism is "a work of singular lucidity of style and remarkable argumentative power . . . which places critics as radical as Professor Cheyne or as conservative as Professor Driver on their defence before men of common sense." It was however no surprise that a mere layman should be ignored by the critics. But it was a keen disappointment that the Bishop of Durham's notable appeal in the Preface should have evoked no response from them. Dr. Moule had been a Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, Principal of Ridley (Theological) Hall, and Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity in the University, and, according to Bishop Weldon, "he was probably the most accomplished classical scholar on the Episcopal Bench." Seldom had he written with more impressive earnestness, said Sir Robert, than in his appeal to Christians to take note of the tendencies of this Biblical criticism. But the critics seemed blind to the consequences of their teaching and contemptuously indifferent to the opinions of all who differed from them, whilst their camp-followers in pulpits, lecture halls and schoolrooms and in the Press carried on the work of proclaiming " the assured results of modern criticism."
The Bishop of Durham's plea was that this modern attitude to the Scriptures was totally different to that of the Lord Jesus Christ alike before and after His resurrection. To Him "it is written" was a formula of infinite import. The principle involved lay at the heart of His teaching. But it was now openly or tacitly taken to be out of date, narrow or uncultured to make much of "it is written," as if an appeal to a supernatural book-revelation was a thing discredited. This conclusion, if true, was portentous. It meant that on a matter central in His message our Master was much mistaken. The most worshipping theology might hold that He consented in His humanity to limitations of His conscious knowledge ; but the Christ of the critics appeared to be ignorant with the sort of ignorance which profoundly impairs the whole value of a teacher - the ignorance of one who does not know where His knowledge ends.
Such a fallible Christ lay open to the suspicion of fallibility on other matters than the integrity of the Old Testament. If such conclusions were demanded by irrefutable fact, let them be made, but not light-heartedly in the modern style. Let them be made with a groan and let the unauthentic promise be carved no more upon the tombs of the beloved dead. "But first," said Dr. Moule, "let us take care to be sure that our detraction from the complete infallibility of the Lord Jesus Christ has infallible grounds. Let us take particular care to be sure that its basis is no a priori theory of the genesis of religion which may already be on its way to discredit in the court of knowledge and thought.
The question is of tremendous urgency. We are contending for our all." The Bible and Modern Criticism was addressed in the main to Christians. Another book, Pseudo-Criticism, made its appeal rather to men of the world. The author again challenged the right of experts to act as judge and jury in addition to giving their evidence, and pointed out how lacking in judgment they often were. He showed that the apparent success of the so-called Higher Criticism largely depended on the fallacy of supposing that if a seemingly complete case could be made out against the genuineness of a book the fact was thereby established that it was not genuine. Were the critics aware that no criminal charge was ever sent for trial unless an apparently complete case could be offered in support of it?
An example was the "assured result" that the Pentateuch was a Jewish work of a comparatively late date. A really strong case might be shattered by a single fact. And if the critics' case against the Mosaic books were as complete as it was faulty there was one fact which would explode it. That fact was the Samaritan Bible. The C.I.D. story of the man who bought a false moustache was here requisitioned as an illustration, The sacrosanct Scriptures of the Samaritans were limited to the Pentateuch. The standing feud between them and the Jews was a matter of common knowledge. Yet the critics would have us believe that the Scriptures which the Samaritans held in such special reverence were literary forgeries compiled by the Jews after the separation from them of the Ten Tribes, a considerable portion dating from after the return of the Jews from the Babylonian captivity! The critical case, however, rested, on Professor Driver's own showing, only upon "plausible arguments, grounds of probability" and the like.
A diary entry in December 1906 is of interest here : "To Mrs. Finn's to view a wonderful old Samaritan Pentateuch. Her husband was British Consul in Jerusalem, and befriended the Samaritan colony at Shechem." The Rev. A. H. Finn was author of The Unity of the Pentateuch.
The Samaritan evidence is of the utmost weight," said the Bishop of Durham in a personal letter. The reader will perhaps ask, said Sir Robert, what answer the critics give. "The critics give no answer whatever. Indeed they never notice anything urged against 'the assured results' of their inquiries ; presumably because they imagine, as I have said, that if a case can be established for or against anything the question at issue is settled. It is an attitude of mind with which my experience of legal and police work has made me familiar.
Dr. Robert Sinker, Librarian of Trinity College, Cambridge, wrote to my father: "I think the parallel you draw between the Incarnate Word and the Written Word is very powerful; the One human save only without sin; the other human in its form, Divinely infallible in its teaching."
The Lord from Heaven, the other book for which the Bishop of Durham wrote a Preface, deals with the Deity of Christ.
"To Christianity," said Dr. Moule, "if it is the Christianity of original form and not of late and arbitrary theory, the Deity of the Lord Jesus Christ, true, proper, absolute, is vital. It was an insight into that vitality which made Athanasius strong contra mundum. .
He saw that no compromise was possible. His opponents were prepared to say practically anything of the greatness of the Christ short of this - that without reserve, without compromise, sans phrase, He is GOD. . . . The human soul can find rest only in a Saviour who is one with man and one with God. Such a Saviour bridges as with living adamant the gulf of doom and sin which severs creature from Maker. A Saviour not quite God is a bridge broken at the farther end."
The author explains how he had been asked on one occasion to mediate between the committee of a missionary society and some of their younger agents whose faith had been disturbed by Moslem hostility to the truth of the Sonship of Christ. He had been unable to find any book which definitely met their difficulties, and the thought of writing such a one was suggested to him. It is not controversial; it is a Bible study. And the question at issue was not merely the divinity of our Lord, now generally acknowledged, but his Deity. "Thou being a man makest Thyself God" ; this was the charge for which the Jews threatened to stone Him.
After reading this book, Dr. Bullinger wrote: "I feel I have a fuller, better and deeper knowledge of 'my Lord and my God,' and praise Him and bless you for it."
Of Sir Robert's other works, The Bible and the Church is referred to in Chapter XII of this memoir. The Hebrews Epistle is a Bible Study demanding some deep thinking on the part of the reader. The Way - Chapters on the Christian Ljfe throws fresh light on many problems of the daily walk and warfare. The Entail of the Covenant or the Saviour's Little Ones is of special interest to Christian parents, dealing with the New Birth, Conversion, and many other vital matters in an original way. Redemption Truths - For us Men treats of the doctrines of the Gospel, being designed specially to help those who are seeking assurance for themselves or who desire to lead others into the way of life. Misunderstood Texts of the New Testament again sheds new light upon a number of difficult or "misunderstood" passages.
Reference was made at the beginning of this chapter to an early book, A Doubter's Doubts, which attracted W. E. Gladstone's attention. A good deal of this was included in a later work, In Defence - A plea for the Faith. This was written from the standpoint of "the true scepticism which tests everything, not the sham sort which credulously accepts anything that tends to discredit the Bible." One who is a sceptic both by temperament and training, said the author, can appreciate the difficulties of the honest truth seeker. A list of some of the writers quoted in the course of the discussion gives an idea of its scope; Darwin, Huxley, Tyndale, Kelvin, Herbert Spencer, Mark Twain, Sir Leslie Stephen, Harnack, A. J. Balfour, Max Muller. Although some of the theories and positions criticised are now discredited, the main argument is remarkably up to date.
The Honour of His Name (Psalm lxvi. 2), written in 1912, was "a plea for reverence" in naming the Lord of Glory. "The Christian who accepts the opening vision of the Apocalypse as a revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ as now enthroned in Heaven will need neither warning nor appeal to avoid all irreverent freedom in naming Him - to shun even the appearance of forgetting 'the honour of His Name.'" The author was referring to the manner in which the Lord is so often spoken of by his human name, Jesus, alone, "as if He were a dead hero or an equal." The book points out that while He is called Jesus hundreds of times in the Gospel narratives, when we come to the words spoken by the disciples to the Lord or to others about Him a title of reverence is always used. The one exception is significant; the disciples on the Emmaus Road (Luke xxiv. i 9) spoke of their late Master as "Jesus of Nazareth," proving by the very words that they were thinking of the "prophet mighty in deed and word" who was now dead. Not thus did they name Him when alive and present with them. Sovereigns who have passed into history are commonly called by their Christian names. But can one imagine a member of the great Queen's household speaking of her as "Victoria" during her lifetime? Only an equal would have done so.
When we turn to the Epistles we find that "the modern familiar use of the simple name Jesus has little authority in Apostolic usage." The words are Bishop Ellicott's in his New Testament Commentary. " If we substitute 'no' for 'little,' " said Sir Robert, "this will accurately express the truth." In point of fact the occurrences of the name "Jesus" by itself in the Epistles scarcely exceed a score. The Apostle Peter does not use it once. James, the Lord's brother, never names Him without some title. When used in the First Epistle of John the significance is clear : "Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God" i.e., Jesus is the human name, the name of the man of Nazareth. Similarly in the Acts : "God hath made that same Jesus whom ye have crucified both Lord and Christ."
In all the thirteen Epistles acknowledged to be St. Paul's, the "simple name" occurs only eight times. In the Epistle to the Hebrews again it is used eight times; there, according to Ellicott's New Testament Commentary, "it will be found that special stress is laid on the lowly and suffering humanity of the Lord, or the historic facts of His ministry on earth are referred to." In the Book of Revelation the Lord Himself uses the name; "I Jesus" (Rev. xxii. i6; cf. Acts ix. 5, 6), and the remaining four passages have special significance.
The first chapter of the Epistle to the Corinthians shows the Apostolic usage. The words "Jesus Christ our Lord," "the [or our] Lord Jesus Christ," occur six times in the first ten verses. "In many a Christian book of two hundred pages that title of glory will not be found as often as here in less than two hundred words "Hymnology is a delicate subject," said the author; "yet so great is the influence of hymns that Christians do well to give intelligent thought to what they sing. The exigencies of rhyme and rhythm have much to answer for; but some hymns would be improved even from that standpoint by the substitution of "Lord Jesus" for "0 Jesus." Children's hymns are often at fault. It is in early life that the habit of reverence can most easily be formed. Yet in many a Christian home children are taught to speak of the Lord of Glory much in the way some children, are allowed to talk about a pet uncle." The words are startling, but they merit thought. Mrs. Duncan Davidson wrote after my father's death: "Of all the things I learned from him, I think his holy reverence for his beloved Lord stands out above everything. 'My Lord, my Lord Jesus,' as he often said."
The Hope of the Lord's Return was an ever-present reality to my father throughout his life. Forgotten Truths, written on this theme in 1913, was (to use his own words) the outcome of earnest thought and study for more than half a century. In a letter to myself at the time he said:
"Your reference to Forgotten Truths in your letter to Mother has greatly interested me. You are entirely right on two salient points first that the truth of 'the Coming' is not an isolated doctrine that can be recognized or ignored without affecting the divine revelation of Christianity. It is a vital and central element in it; and if displaced (or misplaced) the unity of the whole is lost. And, second, it is too true that it is generally not only ignored but rejected with a strange animus. . . . I have just received a very cordial letter from the Bishop of Durham about it. He says : - ' It arrived when I was away in Switzerland, and even now I have by no means read it through. What I have read has done what your writings always do for me. It has at once stimulated attention and challenged thought, often along quite fresh lines, and has everywhere braced and strengthened the faith of my soul in the divine character of Scripture.' He adds that he hopes to make it his companion on 'an impending railway journey. Was there ever a more gracious man!"
Easter-tide 1917 saw the appearance of the last book, a small volume, Unfulfilled Prophecy and the Hope of the Church, written in response to a request from the Prophecy Investigation Society. A "special subject" in a school curriculum, said the author, is often ignored as not being essential; and prophecy is neglected by many a Christian as being unnecessary to salvation. But such neglect is perilous in these days of subtle and sustained attacks upon the Bible. "The writings of the eminent scholars who have led or championed that sceptical crusade (the destructive criticism of the Bible) will be searched in vain for proof of acquaintance with the scheme of Divine prophecy, a scheme which can be traced like a silver thread through all the Scriptures. And still more remarkable is their neglect of the typology of Scripture, so closely allied with prophecy. Indeed their writings are notable examples of exegesis on the text-card system. These critics are like men who empty the works of a watch into a bowl, and then after, examining them in detail arrive at the sapient conclusion that they present no proof of unity of design!" In a Preface to the second edition Sir Robert remarked that the world war then raging appeared to be exciting fresh interest in the study of prophecy. He uttered a word of warning however against the chronological schemes and theories to which the deliverance of the Holy Land from Turkish rule had given rise. For Jerusalem must remain under Gentile control "until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled" (Luke xxi. 24). But although Lord Allenby's victory in 1917 was not the fulfilment of any definite Scripture it was clear that it prepared the way for the accomplishment of God's purposes for Israel. "Prophecy is not given to enable us to prophesy, but as a witness to God when the time [of fulfilment] comes." These words of Dr. Pusey's were often quoted by my father, and chronological forecasts he said were to be received with special caution.
Unfulfilled Prophecy is devoted mainly to "sorting out" the various prophecies of the Return of Christ. It is shown that there will be at least three "Comings." First that which will bring to an end the present dispensation of the reign of grace and the heavenly Church. Then the "Coming of the Son of Man" in fulfilment of Messianic prophecy; and lastly His coming to judgment in the far distant future, the "Second Advent" of theology.
"Christianity is based upon the teaching of the Bible; whilst the theological doctrine of the Second Advent depends largely on the teaching of the Latin Fathers. In their day the Coming which Bengel called 'the hope of the Church' had already been forgotten, and Messianic prophecy had been so perverted or 'spiritualised' as to shut out Israel's hope altogether."
It is argued therefore in this volume that the great predictions and promises of the Old Testament (including those in Daniel) which were not fulfilled at Christ's first Coming have to do in the main with a time when God shall have once again taken up His earthly people, Israel, as shown by St. Paul in the eleventh chapter of the Epistle to the Romans. Much of the "apocalyptic" teaching of our Lord, as well as that in the Book of Revelation, belongs to the same future period. There it is revealed that this sin-cursed earth is yet to be a scene of peace and blessedness - all that we should expect a God of Infinite goodness and power to make it:
"When a King in Kingly glory,
Such as earth has never known,
Shall assume the righteous sceptre,
Claim and wear the holy crown."
But before that day dawns Israel must pass through a
"tribulation" even greater and fiercer than they have yet known. And there must
appear the Super-man, the Coming Prince of Daniel's vision, the Man of Sin of
the Second Epistle to the Thessalonians, the Anti-Christ of St. John's first
Epistle, the Beast of the Book of Revelation, who will be endowed with satanic,
superhuman powers, so that all the world will worship him (Rev. xiii. 8, 12).
Our Lord Himself, in the twenty-fourth chapter of St. Matthew's Gospel, uttered solemn warnings regarding those days. But He gave too the glad promise of His own return in the clouds of Heaven with great power and glory as foretold in Old Testament prophecy.
The Coming of the Lord revealed in the Epistles of the New Testament however is one of the "mystery" truths of Christianity; and, as Bloomfield puts it, "in Scripture the word mystery signifies, not a thing unintelligible, but what lies hidden and secret till made known by revelation of God." It is a Coming to call to their heavenly home the redeemed of this present dispensation, which will thus reach its close. This is the Coming ever brought to remembrance in the words : " As often as ye eat this bread and drink this cup ye proclaim the Lord's death till He come" (1 Cor. xi. 26 [R.V.]). This is "the hope of the Church." And it is a fact of great significance that it is never mentioned in the Epistles as a doctrine needing to be expounded, but only as a truth with which every Christian was supposed to be familiar.
Writing of Unfulfilled Prophecy, the Bishop of Durham said:
"I hope that the 'Till He Come' which every Communion service so solemnly and as with a voice from heaven reiterates will mean yet more to me from your book. Those three great words are inscribed on the cover of my communion table in our beautiful old Chapel. I have long thought them the most appropriate of all mementos there."
Mention must be made of the remaining books from the author's pen. Criminals and Crime has been dealt with in ~ Chapter V of this memoir. Sidelights on the Home Rule Movement was his only incursion into politics; the well-being of Ireland was to him indeed a matter standing above politics in the ordinary sense. He wrote, in the words of Lord Justice FitzGibbon, with "unexampled and unprejudiced knowledge of the facts." The Lighter Side of my Official Life contained, according to a review in The Librarian of February 1911, "the personal recollections of a raconteur with an inimitable charm of manner and no mean ability." My father hoped to write in more serious vein of his official life at a later date; but this was not to be.
Specially bound copies of several of the "theological" books were graciously accepted by Their Majesties Queen Alexandra and Queen Mary, and some other members of the royal family.
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