Page:Literature and Dogma (1883).djvu/89

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soon as uttered before the intractable conscientiousness of Israel. For the Preacher makes answer against himself: 'Though a sinner do evil a hundred times and his days be prolonged, yet surely I know that it shall be well with them that fear God; but it shall not be well with the wicked, because he feareth not before God.'[1]

Malachi, probably almost contemporary with the Preacher, felt the pressure of the same circumstances, had the same occasions of despondency. All around him people were saying: 'Every one that doeth evil is good in the sight of the Eternal, and he delighteth in them; where is the God of judgment? it is vain to serve God, and what profit is it that we have kept his ordinance?'[2] What a change from the clear certitude of the golden age: 'As the whirlwind passeth, so is the wicked no more; but the righteous is an everlasting foundation!'[3] But yet, with all the certitude of this happier past, Malachi answers on behalf of the Eternal: 'Unto you that fear my name shall the sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings!'[4]

Many there were, no doubt, who had lost all living sense that the promises were made to righteousness; who took them mechanically, as made to them and assured to them because they were the seed of Abraham, because they were, in St. Paul s words: 'Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the law and the service of God, and whose are the fathers.'[5] These people were perplexed and indignant when the privileged seed became unprosperous; and they looked for some great change to be wrought in the fallen fortunes of Israel, wrought miraculously and materially. And these were, no doubt, the great majority; and of the mass of Jewish ex-

  1. Eccles., viii, 12, 13.
  2. Malachi, ii, 17; iii, 14.
  3. Prov., x, 25.
  4. Malachi, iv, 2.
  5. Rom, ix, 4, 5.