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and threatenings which related to an unseen and future world. These acquired over some minds the most commanding influence; but all men have not faith. With most people they had too little influence to enforce an uniform and persevering obedience to the precepts and commandments of Christ, which were ever of the same import as they are now, viz. Deny thyself, take up thy cross, follow me. The law was therefore added to enforce submission; and the addition consisted merely of two things, viz. A service laborious, wearying and weakening to the natural strength; and a present, irresistable, enforcing authority. The man under the law was a prisoner, bound and appointed to death; his strength was weakened in the way, and his days were shortened. Psal. cii. 20......23. And to enforce immediate subjection, save or kill, the angelic world was disclosed, and these heavenly powers were brought forward. The chariots of the Lord were sent forth, and his ministers were made a flame of fire. And as, at the same time, the services of the law were a shadow of the redemption work, a nave and a heave offering; and its rewards were a shadow of the gospel provision, a shen bread; the truth, as in Gal. iii. 23, is apparent, that before the gospel dispensation, the covenant people were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.
The strongest obligations of fidelity, may be broken by men left to themselves. Adam had broken such an obligation to Christ, as the Creator. The old world had broken such an obligation to Christ, as the Redeemer. The new world had all done the same, one family excepted; and this family of Israel, excepting a few individuals, proved faithless to Christ in the wilderness; and as the Holy Spirit could not now be dispensed but in comparatively scanty measures, the church
was threatened to be reduced again to a few names, a mere remnant. In a case so urgent, what had long before been signified by circumcision was now fully disclosed. The rising generation, those who were minors when they came out of Egypt, &c. (See Deut. v. iii.) were brought under the obligations of the high covenant, respecting the service work of redemption, and were there bound by an authority which they could not break; on the contrary, like a yoke laid upon young bullocks, it proved able to break them; and thus they were preserved as under a schoolmaster, or breaking yoke, until what was added was taken away by the appearing and work of the Great Surety.
Nothing short of this could have preserved them as the Lord's people; for they were a stiffnecked and rebellious people. This appears from the consideration, that as soon as this dispensation ceased, the service work of the covenant being finished, and they were again to be treated according to a standing by faith; they immediately fell off, and can never again be recovered until the day that the vail shall be taken away, the heaven shall be all dissolved, and the Lord shall be revealed with his mighty angels, who are now gone with him into the most holy place.
These observations are made to point out, not only the mistake concerning penalty, but also the circumstance which has occasioned it. When Abraham was going up to the mount of Moriah, to make the offering of his son, he left his young men afar off, only within sight of the place; and returning he found them, as they were left, waiting for him. Had such faith been found always in Israel, they would not have experienced those ages of labor and pain under the service of the law. But when Moses went up into Mount Sinais
leaving the people in the same manner behind him; at his return he found them in a deplorable transgression; wherefore it appeared that they could not, with safety, be left at so great a distance; they did not possess such a portion of the spirit of faith that would admit of it; and as Christ was going forward to do the great work which he had engaged to perform in this mediate sanctuary, it was seen necessary that the people, for their safety, should be brought forward with him, so far at least as to be within the enclosure of the altar, where they could not stand without feeling, in a painful degree, the burden and heat of that service. The idea of penalty, as particularly attached to the law, has arisen evidently from this circumstance, that the people were placed under that service on account of their transgressions, which, in its nature, was the ministration of death, a salting of fire.
This error respecting the law has led to a misconception of the design of the suffering of Christ.. It has been supposed that his suffering unto death was to answer the penalty of the law; but what Christ suffered was by his freest consent, and for a reward the most ample and satisfactory; and we do not conceive of one engaged in a service, however laborious and painful, whose undertaking is not in the least constrained, and whose every act is spontaneous and prompted by the prospect of acquisitions far exceeding every expence, as suffering a penalty. The sufferings of believers under the law were all disciplanary, and the sufferings of Christ, in this respect, were involved necessarily in the nature of the institution; for both covenants, the first and the new, were of the nature of testaments; and where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. Heb. ix. 17. The design of the death of Christ was not, as some suppose, to discharge
from the penalty of the law, but from the bonds of the institution itself; as may be seen in Col. ii. 14. "Blotting out the hand-writing of ordi"nances that was against us, which was contra"ry to us, and took it out of the way, nailing "it to his cross:" And, Heb. x. 9. "He taketh -66 away the first, that he may establish the sec“ond."
The government established by the law wielded a penal sword, so does also the government established by the gospel, and one which is far more fearful. If the despiser of Moses law could not escape the javelin of a Phinehas, and that authority was able to inflict the punishment of death without mercy, what certain and everlasting destruction awaits the gospel rebel from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power!
It was not, surely, the design of the death of Christ to discharge men from the governmental sword, either of the law or the gospel. The first testament being enjoined only by the blood of calves and of goats, the testator lived to make a new will, which he established by his own death; and, of course, he thereby cancelled the first....... By such representations, made very familiar in the Scriptures, it may be seen in what way the death of Christ affected both testaments. The whole is a matter intirely distinct from the subjects, either of the obligations inseparable from moral agents, or the penalties inseparable from governments.
SECTION IV......Mediatorial Intervention.
THE law, as has been shewn, required of its subjects a sacrifice, even the laying down of life;
and had it been immediately exacted of any one who had not power to take his life again, he must have perished. To save the people, therefore, it was necessary that the law should be ordained in the hand of a mediator; for which intervention the long credit given in the original bond, till the seed should come, opened the merciful door.
This necessity was perceived by the people at Mount Sinai; for the subscriber to a bond is under moral obligation to discharge it; when, therefore, they heard that voice, though it were but urging their moral obligation, they were brought to a sense of their critical situation, they being debtors; andthey felt deeply that if they were pressed one step nearer to the mount that might be touched, they must be consumed. Like Abraham in his trial of offering his son, the people under the law were led forward to the last step they could go, and not be dead men. The interposition did not take place till they were brought to consent to the law, and had given up themselves, as it were, for dead men, saying, we die, we all die. In mind they realized and felt the mortal pain of the impending stroke.
As Moses in the ordaining, so Aaron and his sons in the ministry, constituted the mediatorship of the law. These priests themselves were remitted, and enjoyed the privilege of mediatorial sacrifice, by being covered with their holy garments; which garments, after they were sanctified, were not to be carried out of the holy place. If a priest, wearing those robes, had gone one step beyond the door of the tabernacle, or the first veil of the sanctuary, he would have profaned them, and rendered himself exposed; and on the other hand, if one of the people, though it were the king, stepped within those limits, he forfeited his mediatorial privilege, and became liable to the immediate exaction of the law.........