Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

ther hadst pleasure therein, (which are offered by the law.) Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second." These words clearly teach, that those sacrifices and offerings which the law enjoined* are discontinued, by the authority of God. The law requiring them is therefore revoked.

These passages are all in the same strain. And they unitedly teach, that it is the Sinai covenant merely as law, which is abolished. The term covenant when it refers to the Sinai dispensation, and is contrasted to the Gospel, generally means, in the Epistles, mere law.

But Jesus Christ expressly tells us, that he came not to annul the law. Matthew v. 17, 18, 19. "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets* I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot of one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven; but whosoever shall do, and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven." Accordingly he goes on to confirm the authority of the law, in all the strictness and spirituality of it. \ He condemns all the subtractions, commutations, and licentious comments, to which the scribes and pharisees had subjected it. "Ye have heard that it hath'been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill ; and whosoever shall kill, shall be in danger of the judgment. But •I say unto you, that whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause, shall be in danger of the judgment. Ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, thou shalt not commit adultery. But 1 say unto you, that whosoever looketh on a woman, to lust after her, hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. Ye have heard that it hath been said, thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy; but I *ay unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.—Be ye therefore perfect even as your father which is in heaven is perfect." Thus the law which was published at Sinai, and of which Paul makes mention as convincing of sin, has a perpetual and irrevocable establishment under the Gospel dispensation. And the curse attached generally to law, the wages of sin, is so far from being annulled by Christ, that he confirms it, and in many places asserts in a very solemn manner that it shall be carried into complete effect. "Agree with thine adversary quickly, whilst thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be east into prison. Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, tifl thou hast paid the uttermost farthing."

How are these things to be reconciled? If we consider the words of our Savior as applying to the whole law, they are plainly inconsistent with the testimony of the Apostles. There is no way to make the scripture in this respect consistent with itself, but to distinguish between the two different descriptions of law; that which is commonly and properly called morale and that which is positive. The moral law is ^hat which extends to all intelligent creatures, to all times, places, and circumstances. It is that law which expresses the universal, and unalterable principles of right, the spirit and extent of obligation towards God, and such of his creatures as are proper objects of benevolent affection. Love is the fulfilling of this law, Love is what it summarily requires. This law was in force long before the institution of the Sinai covenant. It was necessarily at the foundation of all the precepts of that covenant, and obedience to it was implied in all the obedience which was rendered to that covenant. Still it was not peculiar to it. That which was peculiarly the Sinai law, as an added law, consisted of positive precepts, which obliged to certain actions, which could not have been obligatory in any other way; actions which became duty only on this ground, and which were appropriate to those, whom these precepts respected. Such precepts as merely determine the manner in which holy love shall manifest itself, and which may be suspended in consistency with a man's being still holden to be perfectly holy, it is evident may be enacted or revoked at pleasure. Such precepts have the distinct character of positive; and such was the precise nature of the law, which constituted appropriately the Sinai covenant, and which is spoken of as abrogated at Ghrist's coming. Accordingly it is to be observed, that in all the passages which have been quoted, in which the Sinai law is introduced, reference is evidently had to this class of precepts. The sacriflcal worship is principally in view; as^superceded by the one efficacious sacrifice of Christ upon the cross. The precepts which enjoined this sort of worship are called repeatedly ordinances of divine service. They en. Joined a series of observances, which were a shadow of good things to come. They were a middle wall of partition, i, e. they erected a system of ritual service, which necessarily produced a complete external separation from the rest pf mankind. It was not at all the tendency of the mere moral law to do this. It was the effect of a law of a peculiar and distinct character. This law was necessarily abrogated when its special purposes were answered, when the distinction between Jew and Gentile was done away, and the kingdom of the Messiah ceased to have a local position.

It was impossible that the moral law should be thus dispensed with. God can never relinquish his rights as the governor of his intelligent creatures. He can never withdraw his authority from them, by giving them up to lawless disorder. He cannot give them a licence to exercise malignant affections, or to carry them out into overt action. He cannot fail to bind them by law to be constandy, and perfectly holy.

Hence it is noticeable, that the confirmation which «ur Savior gives has respect altogether to the moral Mm

law; and not to any of those positive precepts which were peculiar to the Sinai dispensation.

To discriminate the precepts of the abolished law, 80 as to leave the moral law, which was interwoven with it entire, may be a work of some difficulty. But this law may, I think, be discriminated under the characters of typical, sacerdotal, local, governmental, and penal.

1. Those precepts which, respected institutions merely typical, are of the law which is abolished. That the institutions of the Sinai covenant, had principally, a typical design, and in that light instructed the people of Israel in Gospel truth, will not be denied. We are expressly told that the law had a shadow of good things to come; and that the cleansings, sacrifices, and atonements it ordained, were a figure for the time then present. The shadow is certainly useless since the substance has appeared. The law which presented this shadow must of course have ceased. To continue the type would iniply that the antitype had not come. This is what our Savior probably intended when he said at the moment that he expired, "It is finished." It is not consistent with the brevity consulted to point but these precepts distinctly. Nor can it be necessary. The tabernacle, the altar, the'incense, the sacrifices, the sprinkling of blood,'the'offerings, and atonements, come evidently under a typical character.

2. That part of the law which 'we have presumed to denominate sacerdotal, is evidently of the law which is disannulled. "No doubt the priesthood vvas in a measure' typical. The office of the high priest is expressly alluded to in that light. But the priesthood was ordained for a special service. The whole tribe of Levi was set apart to this service, immediately or remotely. The duties of the priests are distinctly pointed out in the law, the manner of their consecration, their attire, and the period of their service; and particular laws were given to provide for their comfortable subsistence among their brethren. All these laws beyond a doubt are disannulled, as the tabernacle is taken down, an<i

'

all the services of it at an end. Since there is a change in the priesthood, "there is made of necessity a change also of the law;"* in all the parts of it which respected the priesthood.

3. So far as the law is of a local character, it must be understood to be abolished. It pleased God to plant his Israel in a particular territory; by which thej were locally separated from the other parts of the world. In consequence of this appointment, the tribes were territorially distributed, and had their precise boundaries. The tabernacle, and afterwards the temple, in which the sacrifices were to be offered, where the feasts were to be kept, and the worship of God was publiclycelebrated, had a fixed place. The law, so far as it is of this character must have ceased to oblige, since an end has been put to this territorial establishment. The laws respecting leprosy j ceremonial purifications, things clean and unclean, clothing, tythes, first fruits, general convocations, &c. seem to be of this class.

4. That part of the law which may be considered as governmental, i. e. which respected the ordering of the society, must be understood to belong to the law which is abolished. There was a species of government in Israel somewhat resembling the arrangements of ordinary civil government. This might not improperly be called the economy of the society. There was a council of seventy erected by divine appointment.— There were rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens. These were denominated judges. The priesthood was invested with an authority peculiar to itself. To this authority the people were to repair in questions of difficulty. In controversies between man and man, the judges were to preside as arbitrators. There were besides, rules determining who should act as soldiers in the camp, the manner of carrying on war, and the treatment of captives. Under this head may be classed also those directions which related to the alienation and redemption of property, inheritances, personal wrongs,

* Hebrews vii. i %.

« AnteriorContinuar »