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Christ, in that they were at first appointed by God himself to be observed. Against this doctrine the Apostle very justly inveighs, in these words (1 Cor. vii. 19): Circumcision (says he) is nothing, nor uncircumcision, but the keeping the commandments of God. Here is a positive distinction between the ceremonial and moral law: and in Gal. vi. 15, he makes the same observation, with a change of expression: For, in Christ Jesus, neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a NEW CREATURE: and what can that new creature mean, but walking in newness of life, or showing such a conformity to the moral law of God, through faith in Christ, as most justly to be called a new creation? So that, in fact, though the words are different (new creature being substituted instead of keeping the commandments), the sense is the same, and signifies that if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature, or keeper of the commandments (2 Cor. v. 17), agreeable to our blessed Lord's own testimony, If ye love me, keep my commandments. (John, xiv. 15.) The outward sacrifices, therefore, being abolished, men were hereafter, through faith in the one all-sufficient sacrifice, to work out their salvation, by the obedience that is through faith; and when the Apostle affirms (Gal. ii. 16) that a man is not justified by the works of the law (even supposing him to speak of the moral law), but
by the faith of Jesus Christ, he by no means purposes to lower the necessity of obedience to it, but only asserts that this obedience being at best imperfect, can have no intrinsic merit to procure our salvation, but is qualified by faith: and herein he speaks consistently with what he before declares in Acts, xiii. 38, 39: that through this man, Jesus Christ, is preached forgiveness of sins; and by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses; that is most clearly, the ceremonial law, as is confirmed by what he in Rom. iii. 20, that, by the deeds of the law, no flesh should be justified in God's sight. But that this did not exclude the moral law, is very clear, by what immediately follows (ver. 21): But now the righteousness of God, WITHOUT THE LAW, is manifested, being witnessed by the LAW and the prophets (i. e. by obedience through grace). WITHOUT the law, in this place, can only mean without the burden of the ceremonial law; for no one who attends to the sense of the argument-no Christian can suppose that the righteousness of God can be manifested in any person, or towards any person, who does not keep the moral law, i. e. lead a godly life; or that the righteousness of God is any thing more or less, but the power of his grace to preserve those who believe in him from committing unrighteousness, as well as the effect of his atone
ment, which is also pleaded for them who live godly in Christ Jesus. When, therefore, in these following words, St. Paul concludes that a man is justified by faith, without the deeds of the law (Rom, iii, 28), he only sets forth Christ as having made a general satisfaction to God for the sins of the whole world-as having abolished all virtue and necessity of the ceremonial ordinances; and that it is through faith in him, and the promises he has delivered in his Gospel, of the aid of his Holy Spirit, that men are hereafter to trust, and not in the efficacy of any outward sacrifices, which were only typical (or signs) of the great sacrifice; which signs were indeed necessary to lead us to Christ; but he being come, they are now done away.
I will afford you still further proof that the moral law is yet in force against us, and that Christ did not come to destroy, but to establish it. Hear what Christ himself says to this point (Matt. v. 17): Think not I am come to destroy the law and the Prophets; I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil; that is, to make good what the Prophets foretold of me, and to perform the whole law myself. And that Christ was speaking here of the moral law, is indisputable, from his own positive words, which follow: Whosoever, therefore, shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men, shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whoso
ever shall do and TEACH them, shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven: by which we learn, that we are both to perform and preach up a regard to the moral law. In truth, only read the whole of this divine sermon, and the most common understanding must decide upon the doctrine our blessed Lord is supporting. As to the whole ceremonial law, it failed of course, there being no longer any use for a schoolmaster, when we were taught by Christ himself.
You cannot avoid observing, my brethren, that these commandments do, in some measure, more strictly oblige Christians, than they did the Jews, and for this reason, that the imperfection in keeping them was atoned by the act of the priest, and obedience to the command of ceremonial sacrifices; whereas the greater part, if not all of them, have either been more fully expounded, or more perfectly delivered to us, by Christ in the New Testament, than they were first given by God to the Jews of old; for their great error (in the latter days especially) seems to have been in abiding by the letter more than the spirit of the commandment: and this our blessed Lord sufficiently rebukes in the 5th chapter of St. Matthew, verse 20: For I say unto you, except your righteousness exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no wise enter
into the kingdom of heaven. In the remainder of this, and in the 6th and 7th chapters, our divine Master gives us the express spiritual meaning of the several commandments: and if any further proof be required for your assurance of the absolute necessity of keeping the moral law, weigh well the following declaration concerning it first: If thou wilt enter into life (saith Christ, Matt. xix. 17), keep the commandments. And his Apostle St. Paul, who is often mistaken as if he lowered the value of the moral law, is most particular from the first to the last verse of the 13th chapter of Romans, in his exhortation to fulfil the WHOLE law. Nay, it is the very test advanced by our Saviour himself, of our sincere affection for him, If ye love me, keep my commandments. (John, xiv. 15.) Again, 1 John, ii. 3, the beloved disciple advances this mark of our having any knowledge of Christ, We are sure that we know him if we keep his commandments; and he gives it as no less proof of our pure love to God, 1 Ep. v. 3, This is the love of God, that we keep his commandments.
As I cannot say more to confirm you in the truth and safety of this doctrine, unless I transcribed and repeated most of the New Testament, I refer you to a diligent and humble study thereof, should further satisfaction be required on this point.
I shall now proceed to consider the number