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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 ; 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 sacri. fices, is brought into view, as superceded by the Gospel.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were instituted is answered, in the efficient sacrifice of the Son of God; and therefore that the law enjoining them is no longer in force.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, než
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.” Accord. ingly he goes on to confirm the authority of the law, in all the strictness and spirituality of it. ' He con. demns 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 then that
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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 men." tion 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 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 con. sider 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 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 obe. dience 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
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which became duty only on this ground, and which were appropriate to those, whom these precepts respected. Such precepts as merely determine the man. ner 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 appropri. ately 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 evidentiy had to this class of precepts. The sacri: Acal worship is principally in view ; ás 'superceded by · the one efficaciqus 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
law; and not to any of those positive precepts which were peculiar to the Sinai dispensation.
To discriminate the precepts of the abolished law, so as to leave the moral law, which was interwover with it entire, may be a work of some difficulty. But this law may, I think, be discriminated under the characters of typical, sacerdotal, local, governmental, and pe. nal.
1. Those precepts which respected institutions merely typical, are of the law which is abolished. That the institutions of the Sinai covenant, had principally, a typical design, and in that light instructed the people of Israel in Gospel truth, will not be denied. We are expressly told that the law had a shadow of good things to come; and that the cleansings, sacrifices, and atonaments it ordained, were a figure for the time then present. The shadow is certainly useless. since the substance has appeared. The law which presented this shadow must of course have ceased. To continue the type would imply that the antity pe had not come. This is what our Savior probably intended when he said at the moment that he expired, “It is finished.” It is not consistent with the brevity consulted to point out these precepts distinctly. Nor can it be necessa. ry. The tabernacle, the altar, the incense, the sacrifices, the sprinkling of blood, 'the offerings, and atone: ments, come evidently under a typical charactér.
2. That part of the law which we have presumed to denominate sacerdotal, is evidently of the law which is disannulled. No doubt the priesthood was in a measure typical. The office of the high priest is expressly alluded to in that light. But the priesthood was or: dained for a special service. The whole tribe of Levi was set apart to this service, immediately or remotely. The duties of the priests are distinctly pointed out in the law, the manner of their consecration, their attire, and the period of their service; and particular laws were given to provide for their comfortable subsistence among their brethren. All these laws beyond a doubt are disannulled, as the tabernacle is taken down, and
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