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brethren, with regard to using particular meats, either at all times, or on particular days. From a candid review of the whole chapter, it is impossible to come to any other conclusion.
Well, then, faithful fellow-traveller, I think we may hold on a little longer to the sabbath, and not give it up for this argument, which, at best, is a misinterpretation or misconception of the practices arising out of the amiable scruples and infirmities of brethren weak in the faith. And I think that by this time you and I have learned not to give up any fundamental article of our faith on the authority of any human creature, however good or great, without trying it by the touchstone of divine truth, and weighing it in the balance of the sanctuary.
(h) BAXTER'S OBJECTIONS.—John i. 17.
BAXTER, from John i. 17, and vii. 19, 23, concludes, that the Jewish law was to have been altogether abrogated by Jesus Christ. I do not consider either of those texts as conveying that meaning. John i. 17: “ The law was given by Moses; but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.”
There are two senses in which “ the law” is taken here. In the first place, it means, not so much the nature of the law itself, as the obedience which was due to it. Under the law of Moses, absolute, unerring obedience is required. 66 Cursed is every one that continueth not in all the works of the law to do them." This mode of obedience is declared in the law itself, and alluded to in several parts of the epistles. But
grace came by Jesus Christ,” through whom a different mode of obedience was accepted, by which a man might be justified and accepted, without that unerring obedience,
and even although he had transgressed the law. This made a great change with regard to the laws, although the laws themselves remained unaltered in other respects. There was also another countervailing (if I may use the expression change in the law. While the obedience necessary to obtain life by the law was thus considerably relaxed by the grace which came by Jesus Christ, the law, in other respects, was rendered much stricter. The commandments under the Mosaic dispensation were considered as only referring to the outward actions, but by our Lord were much more spiritualized, and extended to the inmost thoughts and desires; and, beside the leading and expressed offence, included all those of lesser degree, but of the same class, every fibre of the root, every germ or seed which might, in the congenial soil of a corrupt heart, grow to the full-ripe transgression of the commandment. This remark and distinction will help us, as we proceed, to solve some other objections. There was also a third difference between some of the Mosaic laws under the old dispensation and under the new, which is alluded to in the above quotation. The mere ceremonial law, which was typical, and shadowing out of things to come, was to cease when those types and shadows should be fulfilled. This is the meaning of “ truth came by Jesus Christ.” As I have observed on a former occasion, “ truth," here, is not opposed to error, but to figures. The prefiguring types and shadows came by Moses; but the substance and reality by Jesus Christ.
There was also a change in the end to which the commandments led in the two dispensations. Under the Mosaic, they led to death: it was a “ministration of death,” and a
ministration of condemnation.” 2 Cor. iii. 7, 9. But under the Christian dispensation, they led to life; for it was a “ministration of the Spirit,” a “ministration of righteousness,” (Ib. 8, 9,) and a ministry of reconciliation.
Our Lord says,
“ If ye will enter into life, keep the commandments." Matt. xix. 17. “The letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.” 2 Cor. iii. 6. “ The law [in itself ] was holy, and the commandment holy, just, and good,” and “ordained to life;" but, through sin, “ was found to be unto death.” Rom. vii. 10, 11, 12. There was yet another change made with regard to the commandments, viz. in their sanctions. Under the Mosaic dispensation, the sanctions were temporal; but under the Christian, eternal.
Thus, we find that not the commandments,—but the nature of the obedience to be paid, were changed ;-not the commandments, — but their ends and objects were changed from death to life;—not the commandments, but their scope, and extension, and application; instead of the letter, they were to be interpreted by the spirit ; instead of being confined to the precise, specified, outward action, they were to apply to all the series of minor transgressions of the same kind as that expressed ;-instead of being confined to outward actions, they were to apply to the inmost thoughts ;-not the commandments, but their sanctions were to be changed. We are indebted to Baxter for sending us to the Scriptures on this subject : he has enabled us to draw forth the above conclusions, which we might otherwise have overlooked. His cracked bucket, when repaired, has enabled us to draw water from the wells of salvation. I shall be obliged occasionally to return to this subject.
(i) BAXTER.—John vii. 19, 23.
Acts xv. 5. BAXTER, to my surprise, quotes John vii. 19, as a proof of the abrogation of the law of Moses, with which it has
nothing to do. The best mode of correcting his error, is to give the true sense of the passage, which is as follows. “ Did not Moses give you the law, and yet none of you keepeth the law? Why go ye about to kill me?” I have before stated, that this passage made part of the revived controversy, which arose out of the miracle at the pool of Bethesda. The Jews had accused him of breaking the law, by authorizing the healed man to carry his bed on the sabbath: and he here tells them that their observance of the law, and their zeal for the law, were hypocritical; for they did not keep the law themselves, as was proved by their endeavour to break the sixth commandment by killing him. But not one word occurs, which can be tortured into any reference to the abrogation of the Mosaic law. On the contrary, our Lord tells us, on another occasion, that he “ was not come to destroy the law, but to fulfil it.”
If Baxter's argument proved anything, it would be that the sixth commandment was abolished !
The next text on which Baxter relies, is John vii. 23. “ If a man on the sabbath receive circumcision, that the law of Moses should not be broken; are ye angry at me, because I have made a man every whit whole on the sabbath-day ?” But I have already fully considered this passage, and shown that our Lord said this merely for the purpose of showing, from their own laws, and their own practice, the true spirit of the sabbatical law, and the true nature and purpose of the sabbatical rest.
He then quotes Acts xv. 5 : “ But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees, which believed, saying, that it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.” I wonder that a man of Baxter's acuteness should not have immediately perceived that this question, having been mooted “ by the sect of the Pharisees,” was prima facie evidence, that the ceremonial law alone was concerned, and that the only particular men
tioned being circumcision, was additional proof that the question was raised upon the ceremonial law. But let us go to the decision of the apostles.
It was in reference to this attempt of the sect of the Pharisees that St. Peter says, verse 10, “ Why tempt ye God to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear ?" St. Peter had a strong feeling in favour of the Mosaic law, as appears from several passages in the Acts of the Apostles : and St. Paul was obliged to oppose him. Gal. ii. 11, 14. Can we then suppose that Peter would pronounce such a censure on the whole law, both moral and ceremonial? It is evident that he here refers to the ceremonial law,—the law added on account of transgression,- the law which was not good, by which no man could live: and not to those laws given before the transgression ;—“ the pure and undefiled law,the law which converts the soul, and endureth for ever :"— and more particularly, that he did not include that one law which they were “ to call a delight, holy of the Lord, and honourable,”—the observance of which should lead them to “ delight in the Lord.”
The decree of the apostles was, “ That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication.” These things all belong to the ceremonial law, except the last; but it seems to be agreed among commentators either that it has been erroneously translated, or that there has been a substitution of one word for another (πορνειας for χοιρειας) in the Greek manuscripts. The present word frequently signifies idolatrous practices and observances. The decree, then, of the apostles, was formed on similar principles to those laid down by St. Paul in the quotation I have given above, from Rom. xiv.: “I know and am persuaded that there is nothing unclean [improper to be eaten] in itself; but to him that esteemeth anything to be unclean, to him it is