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sequences followed, there coudd -be but little inducement to observe the conditions of a law which has not the promise ; it would be even ridiculous to attempt to observe that which is of no avail unless it be fulfilled in every part, and which nevertheless it is impossible for man so to fulfil; especially as it has been superseded by the more excellent law of faith, which God in Christ has given us both will and power to fulfil.*
It appears therefore as well from the evidence of Scripture, as from the arguments above adduced, that the whole of the Mosaic law is abolished by the gospel. It is to be observed, however, that the sum and essence of the law is not hereby abrogated ; its purpose being attained in that love of God and our neighbour, which is born of the Spirit through faith. It was with justice therefore that Christ asserted the permanence of the law, Matt. v. 17. think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets; I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. Rom. iii. 31. do we then make void the law through faith ? God forbid : yea, we establish the law. viii. 4. that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.'
* ...................... peace of conscience, which the law by ceremonies Cannot appease, nor man the moral part Perform, and, not performing, cannot live. So law appears imperfect, and but giv'n With purpose to resign them, in full time, Up to a better coy'nant, disciplin'd From sbadowy types to truth, from Acsh to spirit, From imposition of strict laws to free Acceptance of large grace, from servile fear To filial, works of larv to works of faith. Paradise Lost, XII, 296.
The common objection to this doctrine is anticipated by Paul himself, who expressly teaches that by this abrogation of the law, sin, if not taken away, is at least weakened rather than increased in power : Rom. vi. 14, 15. sin shall not have dominion over you; for ye are not under the law, but under grace: what then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. Therefore, as was said above, the end for which the law was instituted, namely, the love of God and our neighbour, is by no means to be considered as abolished : it is the tablet of the law, so to speak, that is alone changed, its injunctions being now written by the Spirit in the hearts of believers; with this difference, that in certain precepts the Spirit appears to be at variance with the letter, namely, wherever by departing from the letter we can more effectually consult the love of God and our neighbour. Thus Christ departed from the letter of the law, Mark ii. 27. 'the sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath,' if we compare his words with the fourth commandment. Paul did the same in declaring that a marriage with an unbeliever was not to be dissolved, contrary to the express injunction of the law; 1 Cor. vii. 12. to the rest speak I, not the Lord. In the interpretation of these two commandments, of the sabbath and marriage, a regard to the law of love is declared to be better than a compliance with the whole written law; a rule which applies equally to every other instance. Matt. xxii. 37–40. 'on these two commandments (namely, the love of God and our neighbour) hang all the law and the prophets. Now neither of these is propoundod in express terms among the ten commandments, the former occurring for the first time Deut. vi. 5. the latter, Lev. xix. 18. and yet these two precepts are represented as comprehending emphatically, not only the ten commandments, but the whole law and the prophets. Matt. vii. 12. all things whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, do ye even so to them; for this is the law and the prophets.' Rom. xi. 8, 10. he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law ; love is the fulfilling of the law. Gal. v. 14. all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 1 Tim. i. 5. “the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned. If this is the end of the Mosaic commandment, much more is it the end of the evangelic. James ii. 8. if ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, thou shalt do well. Hence all rational interpreters have explained the precepts of Christ, in his sermon on the mount, not according to the letter, but in the spirit of the law of love. So also that of Paul, 1 Cor. xi. 4. "every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head ;' a text which will come under consideration in Book II. chap. iv. on the outward deportment befitting prayer. Hence it is said, Rom. iv. 15. where no law is, there is no transgression ;' that is, no transgression in disregarding the letter of the law, provided that under the direction of the Spirit the end of the institution be attained in the love of God and our neighbour.
On the united authority of so many passages of Scripture, I conceived that I had satisfactorily established the truth in question against the whole body of theologians, who, so far as my knowledge then extended, concurred in denying the abrogation of the entire Mosaic law. I have since however discovered, 'that Zanchius, in his commentary on the second chapter of Ephesians, declares himself of the same opinion, * remarking, very justly, that no inconsiderable part of divinity depends on the right explanation of this question; and that it is impossible to comprehend the Scriptures properly, especially those parts which relate to justification and good works,' (he might have added, the whole of the New Testament) unless the subject of the abrogation of the law be thoroughly understood. He proves his point with sufficient accuracy, but neglects to follow up his conclusions ; losing himself in a multitude of minute exceptions, and apparently fluctuating between the two opinions, so as to leave the reader, if not extremely attentive, in a state of uncertainty. I have also observed that Cameron somewhere expresses the same opinion respecting the abolition of the whole law.*
It is asserted, however, by divines in general, who still maintain the tenet of the converted Pharisees, that it is needful for those who are under the gospel to observe the law (a doctrine which in the infancy of the church was productive of much mischief) that the law may be highly useful, in various ways, even to us who are Christians; inasmuch as we are thereby led to a truer conviction of sin, and consequently to a more thankful acceptance of grace, as well as to a more perfect knowledge of the will of God. With regard to the first point, I reply, that I am not speaking of sinners, who stand in need of a preliminary impulse to come to Christ, but of such as are already believers, and consequently in the most intimate union with Christ; as to the second, the will of God is best learnt from the gospel itself under the promised guidance of the Spirit of truth, and from the divine law written in the hearts of believers. Besides, if the law be the means of leading us to a conviction of sin and an acceptance of the grace of Christ, this is effected by a knowledge of the law itself, not by the performance of its works ; inasmuch as through the works of the law, instead of drawing nearer to Christ, we depart farther from him ; as Scripture is perpetually inculcating
**These authorities, without long search, I had to produce....... But God (I solemnly attest him) withheld from my knowledge the consenting judgment of these men so late, until they could not be my instructors, but only my unexpected witnesses to partial men , Telrachordon. Prose Works, II. 237.
+ Cameron appears to bave been a favourite author with Milton. He elsewhere calls him a late writer much applauded,' and characterizes an observation which he makes on Matt. xix. 3. as acute and learned.' Telra. chordon. Prose Works, II. 174. Mr. Todd also, in noticing that Cameron was one of the few contemporary authors whom Milton bas mentioned in terms of respect, quotes another passage in praise of him from the treatise cited above, where he is spoken of as “an ingenious writer, and in high esteem.' Tetrachtordon, II. 210. Life of Milton, p. 153.
In the next place a distinction is made ; and Polanus in particular observes, that when it is said that we are not under the law, it is not meant that we are not under an obligation to obey it, but that we are exempt from the curse and restraint of the law, as well as from the provocation to sin which results from it.** If this be the case, what advantage do believers reap from the gospel ? since even under the
*Non esse sub lege, non est, non teneri obedientia legis, sed liberum esse a maledictione, et coactione legis, et peccati irritatione.' Polaní Syntagm. Theol. lib. vi.cap. 10. De Lege Dei.