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“ death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose “ life"."
This is what Christian philosophy teaches of man.
Here are no dreams of human perfectibility, incongruous with nature and with fact; no dark and mysterious speculations, injurious to the perfections of the Creator. Enough is revealed, to prove that man has never ceased to be the object of God's benignant regard ; that the measure of favour, of help, of compassion towards him, from his Maker, has always been in proportion to his circumstances and his exigencies; nay, that even his liability to penal judgments is intended to operate for his good. Under such rule and guidance, there is no room for presumption or for distrust. “Our sufficiency is “ of God.” But that sufficiency being vouchsafed to us, what must be the consequence if we abuse it to our destruction ? The whole practical conclusion is summed
in the Apostle's exhortation :-“Work out your own “ salvation with fear and trembling: for it is “ God that worketh in you, both to will and “ to do, of His good pleasure.” r Deut. xxx. 19.
t Phil. ii. 12.
s 2 Cor. iii. 5.
GALATIANS iii. 19. Wherefore then serveth the Law ? It was added,
because of transgressions, till the seed should come, to whom the promise was made.
LARGE and comprehensive views are necessary of the work of man's redemption, to enable us to form just conceptions of its real character. The want of these has often occasioned great mistakes, and given advantage to the infidel and the scoffer; whose attempts to bring revealed religion into discredit are usually grounded upon partial or imperfect apprehensions of the system it presents to our contemplation. Such objecti can only be removed by a fuller developement of its great design, by exhibiting the several parts of it in connection with each other, and by elucidating the purpose
which each separate portion appears to have answered in subserviency to the whole.
The course of reasoning pursued by St. Paul, in combating the prejudices of the Jews against the Christian dispensation, will confirm the truth of this remark. The main object of his Epistle to the Galatians is to shew that the Jews had greatly misconceived the Divine purpose, in giving them that Law under which it was their pride and their boast to have lived. He contends that although the Law was unquestionably of Divine authority, and in itself was “holy, just, “ and good;" yet, from its very nature, and from its declared intent, it could neither be of perpetual nor of universal obligation ; but was evidently preparatory to some ulterior dispensation of a more comprehensive nature. From the Scriptures of the Old Testament he proves, that the necessity of faith in the
promised Redeemer was announced antecedently to the Law of Moses; that Abraham was justified by faith in the promise which God had made to him, “ in thy seed shall all the “ nations of the earth be blessed“;" a promise including the Gentiles as well as the Jews ;moreover, that the Mosaic Law had no inherent efficacy to the pardon of sin, but rather pointed out the necessity of some other provision for that purpose ;—that it was a Law of rigid justice, entailing a curse upon the violation of any of its precepts ;—that there had been no actual redemption from that curse, until that which was wrought by Christ ;—and that the redemption wrought by Him was the fulfilment of the very promise made to Abraham, four hundred and thirty years before the giving of the Law; which promise could not possibly be disannulled by the Law itself, being, equally with that Law, of Divine authority.
a Gen. xxii. 18.
But lest this view of the subject should seem to derogate from the worth and excellency of the Jewish dispensation, the Apostle sets forth, in the words of the text, the real purpose for which it was ordained; a purpose, in every respect worthy of its Divine Author, yet affording a decisive proof that it was now no longer in force;—“Wherefore, “ then, serveth the Law ? It was added be
cause of transgressions, till the seed should
come, to whom the promise was made.” “ It was added ;"—the Law was engrafted upon the promise, not substituted in its stead. The promise was to “ all the nations “ of the earth;" a reiteration of the still earlier promise made to our first parents, that 6 the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head";" a promise including the
b Gen. iii. 15.
whole human race. The Law, therefore, whatever might be its special purpose, could not supersede that solemn engagement which the Almighty had previously declared he would fulfil, for the general benefit of mankind.
In this simple but comprehensive statement the Apostle gives us a key to the whole Jewish dispensation.
The Law was mainly of a twofold description, moral and ceremonial. The moral part of it was, with respect to its general principles, of far more ancient date than the time of Moses. It was coeval with man's creation. It was co-extensive with the whole race of mankind.
It was the law by which Enoch is said to have “ walked with God, and Noah to have been “ a just man, and
per“ fect in his generationsd.” The same law St. Paul states also to have been in a certain sense known to the Gentile world, being “ written in their hearts,” and their consciences “accusing or excusing them,” according as they adhered to its dictates or departed from them.
The Ten Commandments, promulgated at Mount Sinai, can hardly (in substance at least) be said to form an addition to that Law. They may rather be regarded as a solemn re
d Gen. vi. 9. e Rom. ii. 15.
c Gen. v. 22.