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It was the law which was written, and engraven in stones. The law is the Testament to which the New Testament is contrasted in the context. The law is the letter which killeth ; as we have it in the preced. ing verse. The law, and that only, is the ministration of death, and condemnation. That it is the law, which the apostle speaks of as done away, is evident from the 11th verse. “ For if that which was done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious.” It was not properly the glory which was done away ; but that which is characterized as glorious. This was the law. Law, we have seeni; was the constituent principle, the chief matter of the Si. nai Covenant. • The next passage, which speaks of the abrogation of the Sinai Covenant, is in Gal. ij. 19. “Wherefore ther serveth the law ? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come; to whom the promise was made ; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator." Here the Sinai covę nant is spoken of expressly as the law. It was eyi: dently the law which was added. The conditional promises were not. For they are involved itr; and published with God's gracious covenant; under every dispensation of it. The curse was not added as peculiar to this covenant. It extends to all times, and applies to every individual, who is not interested in God's gracious covenant. The law also meets the design which the apostle expresses. It was added because of transgressions ; “i. e. to convince of sin, and keep up a remembrance of it ; to remove all hope upon the ground of personal desert, and to impress the absolute necessity of salvation by grace. An equivalent man. ner of expression we have in Hebrews X. 13. “ But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance niade of sins every year.” In like manner the apostle says, Romans vii. 7. “ Nay, I had not known sin but by the law ; for I had not known lust, except the law had said,
Thou shalt not covet.” These passages unite in the idea, that the great design of the dispensation of the Si
nar 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 seeds 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 lönger under a schoolmaster." This implies a dis. connexion 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 bath 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 weaknessandunprofitableness thereof." This command. ment, 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,
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Now that which decayeth and waxeth' old is ready to vanish away.” These expressions imply the aboli. tion 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 ; wherefore 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 sacri. fices, is brought into view, as superceded by the Gos. .pel. 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 pur. pose. 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, neie
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 mere. ly 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 whoso. ever 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
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Thus the law
Curse you, do good to them that liate 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 irrevoca. ble 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 cast 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; thật which is commonly and properly called moral, and that which is positive. The moral law is that which ex. tends 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 sum. marily requires. This law was in force long before the institution of the Sinai covenant. It was neces. sarily at the foundation of all the precepts of that cov. enant, 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