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the heart: this can be done alone by “ Christ, the power of God, and the wisdom of God;" and this once done, then the man will know “the doctrine,” and have no more hankering after “the handwriting of ordinances, that was against us, which was contrary to us,” which Christ “ blotting out," took “out of the way, nailing it to his cross.” (Col. ii. 14.) “ For he is our peace, who hath made both (Jew and Gentile) one, and hath broken down the wall of partition between us; having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments, contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; and that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby; and came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.” (Eph. ii. 14—18.) And as by preaching a spurious Gospel-enjoining anything, together with “ repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ,” we diminish its beauty and power, we learn,
5. That it is dangerous either to recommend or sanction any observances besides the Gospel; avoiding also all policy, that the faith of believers 6 should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.” (1 Cor. ii. 5.)
But let us look a little deeper into the matter.
“ The law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.” (Rom. vii. 12.) Nevertheless is it also called, “Weak and beggarly elements.” (Gal. iv. 9.) In the former character, the law is, as the Word of God, eternal; “One jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” (Matt. v. 18.) In the latter character, it “decayeth and waxeth old, is ready to vanish away.” (Heb. viii. 13.) We shall, D. v., consider the law in its various bearings as we go on.
1. God gave his ancient people a great variety of ordinances and observances, not as sacraments, means of grace, but, as we may infer, as remembrancers of himself, and the covenant he had made with them. Thus circumcision is called “a token of the covenant” (Gen. xvii. 11), “a seal of righteousness.” (Rom. iv. 11.)
Of the fringes it is said, “ And it shall be unto you for a fringe, that ye may look upon it and remember all the commandments of the Lord, &c.” (Numb. xv. 38, 39.) The passover is called a “memorial.” (Exod. xii. 14; xiii. 14.) Again, in the “ seventh month” there was to be the 5 memorial of blowing of trumpets' (Lev. xxiii. 24); the weekly Sabbath is “a sign” (Exod. xxxi. 17, and Deut. v. 15); and so with others that might be enumerated ; and the whole law is called “the testimony.” Now, that which is a remembrancer, “a sign,” “a seal,” “a memorial,” can itself not be an act of righteousness, or of worship, though it may “rise up in judgment” against people. (Deut. xxxi. 19-27.)
Now, although it be not said by every precept that it is only a remembrancer, it is evident, if the Jews had always lived in the observance of the law, carefully keeping all the Sabbaths and feasts; obediently fringing their garments; at every meal examining whether the food before them be clean or unclean; conscientiously bringing the tithes, the firstlings of the flock, and the first-fruits, and the prescribed sacrifice for every specified sin, they must continually have been reminded of God, who commanded all these things; and they would then have answered the purpose of remembrancers: and as some leading precepts are expressly declared to be remembrancers, we may conclude, that they were all intended as such.
The result ought to, and would have been, Faith and LOVE, which the patriarchs, who had not the law, had, and were justified by them. Up to Abraham there was not even circumcision ; and Abraham was justified, and received the promise, and the covenant, not after, or by his circumcision, as the apostle argues (Rom. iv. 10), and every Jew must concede, “but in uncircumcision.” (Gen. xii. 7; xiii. 15; xv. 4–6,18; xvii. 11.) And innumerable passages of Scripture will readily occur both to Jew, and Gentile-Christian, showing that the only acceptable service we can render to God is, worshipping him “in spirit and in truth.” How pathetic are the words of the Prophet Micah (vi. 6—8), “Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the High God ? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old ? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands
of rivers of oil? Shall I give my first-born for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” Joshua, however, tells the Jews plainly out, “Ye cannot serve the Lord, for he is an holy God (OP? Dvig); he is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins.” (Josh. xxiv. 19.) Nevertheless must there be some way to serve God and to have sins forgiven; for Joshua says in the same place of himself, “ As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (ver. 15); and to the people too he says, “ Now therefore fear the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in truth" (ver. 14): but it is a mysterious way, not known to every body, because it does not consist in the precept, which is only to remind of the service “ in sincerity and in truth;”. it is 66
THE WAY” which Moses so fervently prays to know (Exod. xxxiii. 12—19), and David desired to find in the law, in which it was hid. (Ps. cxix. 18.)
II. But besides being remembrancers, the Christian has also to believe “the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things.” (Heb. x. 1.)
III. But “the letter killeth;" the Jews never kept the outward precept, and therefore never remembered God, and lost both the type or shadow, and the substance. Witness their forty years' sojourn in the wilderness; and then compare Judg. ii. 10–19; then trace the history of the Kings, both of Judah and of Israel; then read Mal. ii., Ezek. xxxvi. 17-23, marking the process required for their improvement (ver. 25—27); then remember that bitter
cry, “ His blood be upon us and upon our children !” -Not that the Lord ever was without his witnesses ; in the worst of times there always was “a remnant according to the election of grace.” (Rom. ii. 5.)
IV. And if Gentile Christians will remember that they have “the Mediator of a better covenant” (Heb. viii. 6), and “the ministration of the Spirit,” which is more “glorious” than “ the ministration of death” (2 Cor. iii. 7–9) which the Jews had, and then contemplate the idolatries, profanations, schisms, and infidelity, both theoretical and practical, which prevail, and always prevailed throughout Gentile Christendom, then they will
see the reasonableness of the apostolic injunction, “ Boast not against the branches.” (Rom. xi. 18.)
V. However, neither as remembrancers, nor as types, did the law answer its end with the Jews, as a nation, except it be as a testimony against them.-Man had to learn by experience, that he cannot serve God, not even continue in the observance of the easiest outward act, when God bids it; he had to learn by experience, that he must look to God's FREE GRACE alone for pardon and acceptance. 66 Wherefore then serveth the law ? It was added because of transgression, till the seed should come," &c. (Gal. iii. 19), “ that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful.” (Rom. vii. 13.) From this very nature of the letter of the law—for there is also a spirit in the law, in which sense it is called “ the Gospel” (Heb. iv. 2),- whether considered as typical, or memorial, it could have served no other purpose, and be intended for nothing else, than “a schoolmaster;" and could not be perpetual, but end as it began, in time. Consequently, the Lord gave his people, together with the typical, experimental law-a plain unequivocal promise of a “ new covenant," the nature of which is expressly stated to be different from the old, in that it would be capable of being “put” “in their inward parts," and written “ in their hearts" (Jer. xxxi. 31-33), which cannot be said of anything outward, of which conscience-the heart-has no conception, but which it has of faith and love. And it is with reference to this 66 covenant,” which Isaiah, speaking of Messiah's coming, describes in these words, “ My spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed's seed, saith the Lord” (Is. lix. 20, 21), that we read in the Epistle to the Hebrews (viii. 10–13), “ In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.” Hence, “there is verily a disannulling of the commandment going before for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof. For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope, by the which we draw nigh unto God.” (Heb. vii. 18, 19.) VI. And to this, Moses also agrees; when speaking of the
present captivity—the Jews being “among all the nations...... unto the outmost parts of heaven” (Deut. xxx. 1-4, &c.); he says, “ And it shall come to pass, when all these things are come upon thee......and shalt return unto the Lord......and obey his voice according to all that I command thee this day ......then the Lord thy God will turn thy captivity,” &c.; but then explains, 6. For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee (in types and shadows as the ordinances were), neither is it far off......neither is it beyond the sea,” (which many of the Mosaic institutions, as sacrifices, the annual pilgrimages to Jerusalem, &c., were to such as were beyond the sea, and far off); “But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it.” (Ver. 11–14.) No Jew can reject the paraphrase of the apostle on this chapter, which he concludes with these words, “ The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart; that is the word of faith which we preach......For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” (Rom. x. 5–10. Hence we learn that many important things of the old covenant are to be no more. “ The priesthood being changed” (Heb. vii. 12), as we learn from Ezek. xliv. 10. 13, and Is. Ixvi. 21, “ There is made of necessity a change also of the law.” Thus “ They shall say no more, The ark of the covenant of the Lord: neither shall it come to mind: neither shall they remember it; neither shall they visit it; neither shall it be done any more.” (Tiv nipp? #5?Jer. iii. 16.) Thus will God “ create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind” (Is. lxv. 17); no more remembrance, therefore, of the seventh-day-Sabbath, which was in commemoration of the old heavens and the old earth. So 6 it shall no more be said, The Lord liveth, that brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt” (Jer. xvi. 14; xxiii. 7, 8. Is. xliii. 18); hence falls again away the second reason of the seventhday-Sabbath (Deut. v. 15), and with it all those feasts and observances which were instituted in memory of the Exodus from Egypt, &c.
VII. A Jew might, indeed, object, that as yet the new heavens