(a) What are charged as such are sometimes evil acts and words of good men ? words and acts not sanctioned by God. The inspired writers as simple matter of history narrate these, and subsequent results, or the story itself, are left to point the moral of the tale.
Instances of this sort are Noah?s drunkenness ( <010920>Genesis 9:20-27); Lot?s incest ( <011930>Genesis 19:30-38); Jacob?s falsehood ( <012719>Genesis 27:19-24); David?s adultery ( <101104>2 Samuel 11:1-4); Peter?s denial ( <402669>Matthew 26:69-75). Sec Lee, Inspiration, 265, note. Esther?s vindictiveness is not commended, nor are the characters of the Book of Esther said to have acted in obedience to a divine command. Crane, Religion of To-morrow, 241 ? ?In law and psalm and prophecy we behold the influence of Jehovah working as leaven among a primitive and barbarous people. Contemplating the Old Scriptures in this light, they become luminous with divinity, and which to discriminate between the divine and the human in the book furnishes us with the principle. Particularly in David do we see a rugged, half civilized, kingly man, full of gross errors, fleshly and impetuous, yet permeated with a divine Spirit that lifts him, struggling, weeping, and warring, up to some of the loftiest conceptions of Deity which the mind of man has conceived. As an angelic being, David is a caricature; as a man of God, as an example of God moving upon and raising up a most human man, he is a splendid example. The proof that the church is of God, is not its impeccability, but its progress.?
(b) Where evil acts appear at first sight to be sanctioned, it is frequently some right intent or accompanying virtue, rather than the act itself, upon which commendation is bestowed.
As Rahab?s faith, not her duplicity ( <060201>Joshua 2:1-24: cf. <581131>Hebrews 11:31 and <590225>James 2:25); Jael?s patriotism, not her treachery ( <070417>Judges 4:17-22; cf. 5:24). Or did they cast in their lot with Israel and use the common stratagems of war (see next paragraph)? Herder: ?The limitations of the pupil are also limitations of the teacher.? While Dean Stanley praises Solomon for tolerating idolatry, James Martineau, Study, 2:137, remarks: ?It would be a ridiculous pedantry to apply the Protestant pleas of private judgment to such communities as ancient Egypt and Assyria? It is the survival of coercion, after conscience has been born to supersede it, that shocks and revolts us in persecution.?
(c) Certain commands and deeds are sanctioned as relatively just ? expressions ofjustice such as the age could comprehend, and are to be judged as parts of a progressively unfolding system of morality whose key and culmination we have in Jesus Christ.
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