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nai law, was to convince men of sin, and thus to shut them up to the faith of the Gospel. In this view it is styled a schoolmaster, verse 24. "Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster, to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith."
The apostle says, the law was added till the seed should come. This mode of speaking implies, that then, at the coming of the Messiah, it was set aside. Coincident with which is the idea, suggested in the 25th verse. "But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster." This implies a disconnexion from the law, or that it ceases to bind.
Another passage to the same purpose is found in Ephesians ii. 14, 15. "For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Having abolished, in his flesh, the enmity, even the law of commandments, in ordinances, for to make in himself of twain, one new man, so making peace." The terms of this passage inform us expressly what was abolished by the incarnation and death of Christ. It was the law of commandments in ordinances. This idea is perfectly conformable to the passages before introduced.
The next passage which claims to be noticed, as instructing us in the abolition of the Sinai. covenant, is in Colossians ii. 14. "Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances, that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross. According to these words, the abolition extended to the handwriting of ordinances. This was the Sinai law.
The subject is introduced several times into the Epistle to the Hebrews. It is thus mentioned in the 7th chapter, 18th verse. "For there is verily a disannulling of the commandment going before, for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof." This commandment, which is here expressly said to be disannulled, is called, in the next verse, the law. "For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did.” It is mentioned again in the 8th chap. 13th verse. "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." These expressions imply the abolition of the first or Sinai covenant. What the writer especially means, by this first covenant, as the subject of this abolition, we seem to be clearly taught in the 3d and 4th verses of the chapter. For every high priest is ordained to offer gifts and sacrifices; where-fore it is of necessity that this man have somewhat to offer. For if he were on earth, he should not be a priest; seeing that there are priests which offer sacrifices according to the law." Here the law, instituting sacrifices, is brought into view, as superceded by the Gospel. The law then, we are to understand as decayed, and vanished away.
This idea is expressly brought into view in the first verse of the next chapter. "Then verily the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary." The 10th verse is to the same purpose. "Which stood in meats, and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed until the time of reformation,”
The forepart of the 10th chapter of this Epistle furnishes farther intimations of the abolition of the Sinai covenant; and these intimations have all evident respect to law. "For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never, with those sacrifices which they offered, year by year continually, make the comers thereunto perfect. For then, would they not have ceased to be offered?" This enquiry supposes that they have ceased to be offered since the purpose for which they were instituted is answered, in the efficient sacrifice of the Son of God; and therefore that the law enjoining them is no longer in force. Their continuance under the authority of law, would imply the inefficacy and inutility of his sacrifice. The law therefore, must of necessity be abolished.
This is confirmed by what is said in the 5th and 6th verses. "Wherefore when he cometh into the world he saith, Sacrifice and offering, thou wouldst not, nei
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 or 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 I 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 say 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 of ficer, and thou be east into prison. Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till 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 moral, and that which is positive. The moral law is that which extends to all intelligent creatures, to all times, places, and circumstances. It is that law which expresses the uni versal, 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 Christ'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 sacri Acal 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 of 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 constantly, and perfectly holy.
Hence it is noticeable, that the confirmation which our Savior gives has respect altogether to the moral