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unclean. But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably; destroy not him with thy meat for whom Christ died.” And St. Paul, again, in 1 Cor. viii., although he considers meat offered to an idol as nothing, and that it may conscientiously be eaten by a person of knowledge, yet as there were others who could not divest themselves of the feeling that there was such a connexion between the meat offered to an idol and the idol. itself, and between eating the meat and worshipping the idol, he advises those who are strong in the faith to abstain from eating, if they should thereby run the risk of betraying their brethren into idolatry, and concludes thus:-- Wherefore if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no meat while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend." Therefore the apostles, ky their decree, give way, for the present, to innocent prejudices of the Jews in matters indifferent in themselves, with which they had been so strongly imbued from their earliest childhood by their law. These directions, as well as others in St. Paul's epistles to the same effect, were humane and charitable, dictated by refined feeling, good taste, and conimon sense. I find common sense to be an excellent expositor of many parts of Scripture, and am frequently obliged to invoke its aid against the uncommon sense of our opponents.
In the conclusion of James's address, previous to the apostles passing the decree in verses 19, 20, 21, we have a convincing proof both that the decree was passed in reference to the prejudices of the Jews, and prejudices which the Gentiles might imbibe from reading the Jewish Scriptures, or retain from their own idolatries; and also that this decree had nothing to say to the abolition of the Jewish law, and more particularly the sabbath. 21 : “ For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath-day.” The Gentiles seem to have been prohibited from meats offered to idols— also called pollutions of idols—on their own account, and from eating blood, things strangled, &c. on account of the Jews.
The arguments which I have hitherto quoted from Baxter were very easily answered. I come now to his best argument for the repeal of the commandments, stronger, indeed, than any that have been used by the other opponents of the sabbath, and which, I believe, has been used by him alone, and has escaped his Grace of Dublin. It is a quotation from 2 Cor. iii. beginning thus: Ver. 3, “ Ye are our epistle, written in our hearts, known and read of all men, * * * manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshly tables of the heart.” This expression is clearly figurative, and does not refer to the tables of the commandments, but to his epistle ; and if these tables of stone, whatever they are, were to be abolished, his epistle, written with ink, must be abolished also. This is well explained by the promise in Jeremiah xxxi. 33: “ I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts."
In verse 6, St. Paul gives us a good key for discovering the true meaning of this chapter ; which was to show the difference between the letter and the spirit of the law, and their tendencies. “ Who also hath made us able ministers of the New Testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit ; for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.” It is manifest, however, that he is speaking here of one and the same law:
But the strength of Baxter's argument, and that upon which he justly relies, is the following: Ver. 7, “ But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the glory of his countenance, which glory was to be done away, how shall not the ministration of the Spirit be rather glorious ? For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory.” At first view it may appear from this quotation, as if the law or commandments written and engraven in stones were to be done away. But on a little closer inspection we find that not to be the case. What, then, is to be done away? The glory which accompanied the former ministration.
The delivery of the ten commandments on Sinai was accompanied with supereminent glory. And even after the transgression and forfeiture of the blessings of the covenant by the Israelites, when Moses a second time brought down the tables of the commandments, they were attended by glory; because, as St. Paul tells us, the law itself was 6 holy, just, and good,” and therefore in itself glorious; yet it required perfect obedience, which the fallen and corrupt nature of man could not pay, and therefore it tended to condemnation and death. Let us now consider how that glory was to be done away. And this was by the revelation of a more resplendent glory, by which the former was eclipsed. The commandments were lit up with a new light: they still continued holy, just, and good, as before; but they no longer continued as inexorable judges to condemn, they held out the sceptre of mercy—they no longer required perfect obedience, they were changed from a ministration of condemnation into a ministration of righteousness. And how was the former glory to be done away,—the glory of a law holy, and just, and good,—but clouded by the certainty
of disobedience and condemnation? The glory was eclipsed and outshone by the superior glory of a ministration, which provided for an obedience that could be accepted, and a righteousness that could lead to salvation. This is strongly expressed in verse 10; in which we are told, - that the former “ ministration had no glory in this respect,”—that is, in producing righteousness; in respect of which the ministration of the Spirit did exceed in glory. The expression in the Greek is very strong :- verse 10: Úvèè čeềóžaorai το δεδοξασμένον, εν τούτη τη μέρει, ένεκεν της υπερβαλλούσης 8ółnc, which may be thus literally translated: “ Therefore what had been before glorious, ceased to be glorious in this respect, on account of the glory which excelled and outshone it.” This text, then, does not refer to any change of the law, but, as I have before observed, to a change of obedience from one which could not be perfect, or accepted, to one which could be accepted, although imperfect. Thus, although the law of Moses, or, more properly speaking, the commandments, were in themselves so glorious, as to clothe him with glory, as he bore them, yet the ministration, with which they were connected, was inferior. But the new dispensation was more glorious, because it was the ministration of righteousness; it devised a way by which imperfect obedience to that same law, could be rendered acceptable, and man be justified even after having transgressed it; which could establish a righteousness, that could not be by the law itself. A perfect law and perfect obedience are no doubt glorious objects; but as fallen man could not pay that perfect obedience, instead of its being to him an object of glory, it became an instrument of condemnation.
St. Paul, in Rom. vii. 6, &c., explains the mode in which Christians are delivered from the Mosaic law. They were delivered from its strict literal sense, but bound by its spirit; and this is the view we ought to take of the ques
tion. “ But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held, that we should serve in newness of the spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter. What shall I say, then? Is the law sin? God forbid ! Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.” And, verse 10, he says, “ The law which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death.” And again, “ For we know that the law is spiritual; and I delight in the law of God in the inward man.” And, in chap. viü. 1, “ There is, therefore, now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit; for the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus, hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son, in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh; that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit.”
• The law, in our natural state, and under the old dispensation, was utterly unable to effect our renewal and sanctification ; nay, it did but aggravate our guilt and condemnation, instead of delivering us from them. It is only in our new state, and under our new affiance, that we are enabled to bring forth fruits of a different kind, “ being now freed from the law,” – that is, no longer placing our reliance upon it, as a means of subduing and sanctifying our sinful natures.'— Stuart.
From all this, it appears that the law and the commandmandments are not abrogated, but that we are enabled to fulfil them. My readers, who are “ strong in the faith," will have the goodness to bear with my many repetitions on this subject; there are other persons, who require that there should be “precept upon precept, precept upon precept;