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cerning it. For, as he applies the death of Christ by the secret methods of his grace to many persons, whose circumstances render them incapable of availing themselves of it, this deficiency (as in infants and ideots,) being supplied by the goodness of God; so, though the revelation that was made of the Messias to the Fathers of the old dispensation, was in a certain degree obscure, yet his death might be applied to them, and their sins pardoned through him, upon their performing such acts as were proportioned to that dispensation, and to the revelation that was then made.
II. The Article declares the degree in which the Mosaic law is obligatory on Christians.
The Mosaic law may be distinguished into three parts, 1. The ceremonial law; 2. The judicial law : and, 3. The moral law.
1. The Article asserts, that the ceremonial law does not bind Christian men.
The truth of this assertion appears (1.) from the nature of the law itself. This part of their law.was given to the Jews to separate them from the idolatrous rites of other nations, and thus
a This division is referred to in Deut. vi. 1.: «« These are the commandments, the statutes, and the judgments.” The same distinction is observed in the Vulgate and Septuagint.
Thus, the rite of circumcision was omitted in the wilderness, because the design intended by it was attained by their peculiar circumstances. This shows that if the object could be effected, the rite itself was valueless. Compare also Ex. xxix. 33, and 1 Sam. xxi. 6.
preserve their religion uncorrupted. Some of these rites were perhaps imposed on them as a punishment for former sins; others were in opposition to the practices of the surrounding nations, such as their rules of eating, cleanness," &c.; others reminded them of the blessings they owed to God, and others were merely typical. All this was proper to restrain them, while they were the only people in the world that renounced idolatry and worshiped the true God; but when the house of God became a house of prayer to all nations, then these distinctions ceased, and all their service was brought to an end.
(2.) It is abrogated by the authority of the Apostles. They expressly declared, that the “Gentiles were not to be brought under that “ heavy yoke which their fathers were not able “ to bear.” (Acts, xv. 10.) And that they were authorized to make such a declaration, appears from the miracles by which they proved their mission, and by our Saviour's promise of loosing in heaven that which they loosed on earth. It is true, that they observed some of these rites themselves, while the temple stood, but this was merely in consistency with their maxim, “ of
becoming all things to all men, that they "might by all means save some.” (1 Cor. ix. 22.) (3.) The observance of it is now impossible. For many of its rites were tied to the temple, which being now destroyed, these rites must cease along with it.
a See Stilling fleet's Orig. Sac. B. 2. c. 7. p. 147, and Lowman's Rational of the Ritual of the Hebrew Worship.
2. The judicial law ought not of necessity to be received in any commonwealth. This is evident (1.) from the nature of this law. These precepts were given to the Jews as they were a society of men, to whom God, hy a special command, gave authority to drive out and destroy a wicked race of people, and to possess their land; which was subsequently divided among them by lot, each share descending by inheritance in the same family. The laws, therefore, given with this particular view, cannot be applied to other constitutions, in which men have not their inheritance as a grant from heaven, nor are put by any appointment of God, all upon an equality.a
(2.) It is abrogated by the Apostles. The decisions which the Apostles made in this matter are so clear, and so plainly expressed in the Epistles to the Galatians and Hebrews, that no doubt can remain concerning it with any man that reads them.
It is objected by the Jews, against the authority of the New Testament, that it acknowledges
a We are commanded “ to submit to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake.” (1 Pet. ii. 13.) This could not be done, unless all obligation to obey the law of Moses was removed.
the Old to be from God, and yet repeals the far greater part of the laws enacted in it, though these laws are often said to be statutes for ever." Now, if both are of God, it seems that the one cannot make void that which was formerly declared by the other in his name, since they have both precisely the same authority.
To this, it may be answered, (1.) The phrase for ever," was used in opposition to such laws as were merely transient. Some of their lawsa were only to be observed while they marched through the wilderness or upon particular occasions : whereas, such as were constantly and generally to be obeyed, were to them perpetual."
(2.) The lawgiver always retains an authority to alter his laws. As in human laws, the words of enacting them for all future times, only make them to be perpetually binding on the subjects, but do not at all limit the legislative power, which is as much at liberty to abrogate or alter them, as if no such words had been expressed : so also in this case the people had no power over the ritual law to repeal or change it, but that im
a Thus the law of going without the camp evidently respects their journey in the wilderness. (Deut. xxxi. 12.) See Grotius de ver. rel. Ch. L. 5. c. 7.
• Further, this phrase does not imply perpetuity. Thus, in 1 Sam. i. 22, it is said, « Samuel shall abide before the Lord for ever.”
posed no limitation on the lawgiver himself, who might alter his own constitutions as he pleased.
(3.) This change is implied in the Old Testament. Many plain intimations are given of a time and state in which the knowledge of God was to be spread over all the earth, and that he was every were to be worshiped. Now this could not be done without a change in the law and rituals, since the whole world could not go up to Jerusalem thrice a year, or be served by priests of the Aaronical family.
3. The Article asserts that no man is free from the obligation of the moral law.
On this subject, we shall consider, (1.) The principles of morality. A moral law is that which has an antecedent foundation in the nature of things, that arises from eternal reason, is suitable to the powers of our souls, and is necessary for maintaining human society. The two sources out of which all the notions of morality flow,a are first the consideration of ourselves as individuals, and secondly, the consideration of man as he is a member of human society. There are also two orders of moral precepts; some relate to things that are of their own nature inflexibly good or evil, such as truth and falsehood;
* This is analogous to the devision of the Decalogue into the first table containing our duty to God, and the second, our duty to our neighbours.