H C G Moule on Hebrews 13:7 and the need for church history

Handley C.G. Moule (1841–1920) was a descendant of Caleb Evans (see previous post). In his Messages from the Epistle to the Hebrews (London: Elliott Stock, 1909), chapter 12, he has this to say about the importance of church history: Hebrews 13:7 “consecrates the fidelity of the Christian memory. It assures us that to cherish the names, the words, the conduct, the holy lives, the blessed deaths, of our teachers of days long done is no mere indulgence of unfruitful sentiment. It is natural to the Gospel, which, just because it is the message of an unspeakably happy future, also sanctifies the past which is the living antecedent to it. Just because we look with the love of hope towards “our gathering together unto Him,” we are to turn with the love of memory towards all the gifts of God given to us through the holy ones with whom we look to be “gathered together.” “The exit of their walk of life” (ver. 7) is to be our study, our meditation. We are to “look it up and down” ([Greek: anatheorountes]) as we would some great monument of victory, and from that contemplation we are to go back into life, to “imitate their faith,” to do just what they did, treating (xi. 1) the unseen as visible, the hoped-for as present and within our embrace. Thank God for this authorization and hallowing of our recollections. Precious indeed is its assurance that the sweetness of them (for all its ineffable element of sadness, as eyes and ears are hungry for the faces and the voices gone, for the look and tone of the preacher, the teacher, through whom we first knew the Lord, or knew Him better) is no half-forbidden luxury of the soul but a means of victorious grace.”