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might obtain eternal life,—what shall I do,—by what works shall I deserve eternal life?-our Lord first examines him as to the second table, and obedience by works. But we are not to suppose that this was the whole of the examination, or the entire of his trial by the commandments; nor was he himself satisfied with it, for he asked, “What lack I yet?"
Our Lord then tries him by another test as to the first table. This young man proposed his question from different motives from those which actuated the others. He was sincere; the others insidiously tempted our Lord. This young man came running with eager anxiety, and knelt down to worship him, evidently impressed with a strong sense of his power and character as the author and giver of that eternal life which he sought. This appears by our Lord's words, when addressed by the title of “Good Master.” 6 Why callest thou me good ? there is none good but one, that is God.” And then, on the supposition that he had acknowledged him as God, and after he himself had obliquely assented to that acknowledgment, he proposes a test to try him by the first table, whether he 6 loved the Lord his God with all his heart, and all his mind, and all his soul, and all his strength.” When the Son of God, “ God manifest in the flesh," appeared in his state of humiliation, it was impossible for his disciples to acknowledge him, and adhere to him, without a renunciation of all earthly possessions, and a steady determination to follow him through poverty and persecutions. And to this test he subjected those who acknowledged his divinity, and became his disciples. (Matt. xvi. 16, 24. Mark viï. 29, 34. Matt. xix. 27– 30. Mark x. 28-30.) And by this test he also tries this young man. “If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven; and come and take up thy cross, and follow me.” On this occasion hs alludes to the two tables in a particular manner, and for a particular purpose, and so far only as the occasion required, and not so explicitly as when directly questioned on the commandments themselves.
Thus far we have considered his sanction of the decalogue as a whole; let us now consider each table separately. As to the second there cannot be any doubt, because he not only gives the summary, but in the case of the young man on the third occasion above-mentioned, he enumerates each particular commandment, and gives the summary besides, as does St. Paul in his epistle to the Romans, xiii. 9. · As to the first, the summary is, that we are to love the Lord our God with all our hearts, and all our minds, and all our souls, and all our strength; that is, with all the affections and powers both of soul and body. Now, I have proved in a former section, that all the commandments of the first table depend upon the fourth, and cannot exist without it. Our Lord tells us that the prophets hang upon this summary. And perhaps from the prophets we may learn whether the fourth commandment have any place in that summary: and I think, we may gather from him, who is emphatically called the evangelical prophet, the prophet of the gospel, that the chief thing in this summary depends upon the sabbath. To love the Lord our God with all our heart," is always put foremost in the summary; and unquestionably the heart is the principal ingredient and agent in love. 'And how is this love with the heart to be obtained in that dispensation of which the prophets foretold ? "Isaiah will answer that question. “Call the sabbath a delight, holy of the Lord, and honourable; then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord.” If we were to ask Ezekiel, he would answer the question in the same way; he has answered it already in the quotations I have given in another place to show that the fourth commandment is the guardian of the second, in which it is said, that God “shews mercy unto thousands of them that love him, and keep his commandments." Therefore, the chief thing in our Lord's summary, according to the prophets, who hang upon the commandments, depends upon the sabbath; and that part also, which brings forth most fruity for “with the heart men believe unto righteousness."
The scribe in Mark xii. very properly prefers these commandments to all whole burnt-offerings and sacrifices. And our Lord considered him to answer discreetly; for certainly it is better to keep the commandments, than first to break them, and then to atone for the breach by propitiatory sacrifices.
I must here anticipate an objection that may be made to an argument which I have used in an early stage.
To show that the non-mention of the observance of the sabbath by the patriarchs is no proof of its non-existence I have stated that no mention of it occurs in the Psalms, Proverbs, or Ecclesiastes, written in a period during which we know that it was observed. Now, I may be told that “ The Sabbath," is prefixed as a title or argument to the ninety-second Psalm. To this I answer, that those titles, are not considered as genuine ; they depend upon tradition. Now the same tradition says, that the ninety-second Psalm was composed by Adam in praise of the sabbath. If, therefore, tradition is not to stand, my former argument is good; but if tradition be to stand, I will very willingly exchange my former negative argument for this positive proof of the observance of the sabbath in Adam's time; for if he composed a psalm in its praise, who will deny its existence? '
Baxter quotes Heb. ix. 19, to prove that every precept
spoken by Moses was according to the law, and consequently to be abolished with the law, which he takes for granted is to be abolished; and if every precept, then also the commandments. This, I think, is the substance of his argument; but I speak from memory, not having his works within my reach while I write this. The verse is as follows:-“ For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and of goats, with scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book and all the people.”
Now, it is sufficient here to remark, that the commandments were distinct from this book of the law. The former were written on tables of stone, and closed up in the ark, into which it was not lawful for any of the priests, or even for the high priest, to look: and the ark was kept in the holy of holies, into which none but the high priest was allowed to enter, and that only once in a year, and then not to look on the ark; but the law was written in a book, (Deut. xxxi. 9, 2426,) and delivered by Moses to the levites and elders to keep, and to be put in the side of the ark when it was carried, not in the ark, but in its coverings. The book only is spoken of in the above quotation from Hebrews, and the book only is spoken of as sprinkled with blood. And it is a curious fact, which will appear from Lev. xvi., that the ark and the commandments were the only things which were not sprinkled with blood, and therefore could not have been alluded to in the above verse. From whence it follows, that whatever conclusion Baxter may be able to draw from that passage does not apply to the commandments.
Note. I wish to acknowledge before closing this book, that the substance of the notes marked H. S. were furnished
by the Reverend Thomas Dee, now second master of the Clonmell school, an accomplished Hebrew scholar, and author of “ The English Translation of Bythner's Lyre of the Psalms of David;" than which, no more useful book on the Hebrew language has been published in our days, or more valuable to the learners of that sacred language.