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4. Another objection, and one that deserves a more extended notice, is, that in some instances the Saviour expressly condemns the Mosaic enactments. Matt. v. 21-48, is regarded as a clear example of this kind. The passage is long, and need not be quoted. reader, if he please, can open his Bible, and examine it. It may be remarked, in the first place, on this passage, that if it really condemns portions of the Mosaic code, the principle of accommodation, before examined, falls to the ground. For if the Saviour speaks approvingly of the law of Moses, out of indulgence to the prevailing opinions, why, in the most conspicuous discourse he ever uttered, does he condemn portions of the same law? Both objections cannot be sound, unless we charge Jesus with gross inconsistency, in which case we had better reject him altogether. But is it true that the law of Moses is here referred to? or is it to the oral law, or tradition of the elders, by which the written law had been perverted, that the reference belongs? We think it is to the latter, though we have not space to enter into the argument in proof of this position.
That the law of Moses is not adapted to the Christian dispensation, is admitted. Hence it is displaced by Christianity. But its divine origin and authority are not affected by this circumstance. The kingdom of God was to be taken from the Jews and given to the Gentiles. A change of laws becomes a necessary consequence. All good governments change their laws in a similar manner. The law was our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ. Christ, too, is our teacher. And who does not know that different teachers employ different modes of instruction, and especially vary their methods when teaching pupils of different ages and capacities?
We have now arrived at a point where our work may be deemed somewhat complete. We have consulted the Saviour concerning his own inspiration, the inspiration of the apostles, and that of the Old Testament Scriptures; and the truth of the most complete inspiration of all these, is sustained by the clearest testimony of Christ himself. And all who admit that " Jesus Christ is the Son of God," are bound to assent to all that we have stated, unless some fundamental error in our reasoning can be pointed
out. This subject, however, admits of further discussion. Indeed, there is one branch of it on which we have not yet entered, that seems essential to the completeness of our argument. We have shown from the teachings of Christ, that his disciples, as well as himself, are good authority in religious matters; and hence their views of the Jewish Scriptures, are legitimately applicable to the question of the inspiration of that book. Their authority in this matter is substantially the authority of Christ, for it has received his sanction. The apostles have indeed taken no new ground; they occupy the same position with their Master. They speak, however, more fully, and use arguments and illustrations where, with Christ, a mere statement, based on his authority alone, was all that was required. The Saviour gives us the facts, the apostles give us the reasons and illustrations; and the latter, as well as the former, seem necessary to give us a clear and complete view of the whole subject. We will, however, as far as possible, spare the patience of the reader, by quoting but a small part of what might be adduced from the apostolic writings.
IV. Peter on the day of Pentecost, quotes the prophecy of Joel, as applicable to events that were then taking place; also the language of David, as referring to the resurrection of Christ; and he takes considerable pains to show that it is a genuine prediction, applicable to this subject. He also quotes a prediction of Moses as follows:
"A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you, of your brethren, like unto me: him shall ye hear in all things, whatsoever he shall say unto you. And it shall come to pass, that every soul which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people.' Peter adds: "Yea, and all the prophets, from Samuel, and them that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days."8 Philip explained to the eunuch a passage from Isaiah, as referring to the death of Christ. Paul, in his address to Felix, confesses his belief in "all things which are written in the law and in the prophets." He avers, that he preached "none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come." He expounded the kingdom of God to
8 Acts iii. 22-24.
his brethren at Rome; "persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses and out of the prophets. ." Paul confesses that unto the Jews were 66 committed the oracles of God." He reiterates the sentiment put forth by Christ, that Christianity was not intended to destroy, but to fulfil the law :-"Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid; yea, we establish the law." He commences his letter to the Hebrews in the following manner :-" God, who, at sundry times, and in divers manners, spoke, in time past, unto the fathers, by the prophets, hath, in these last days, spoken unto us by his Son." He alludes to the same thing, when he speaks of "the word spoken by angels." James exhorts his brethren to "take the prophets who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience." Paul reminds Timothy that from a child he had "known the Holy Scriptures, which were able to make him wise unto salvation, through faith that is in Christ Jesus." He adds that "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works." "We have also a more sure word of prophecy, whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day-star arise in your hearts. Knowing this, first, that no prophecy is of private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man; but holy men spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost." John, in the Revelation, represents, in his vision, that the song of Moses, as well as of the Lamb, was sung before the throne of God.
These passages are in perfect harmony with the teachings of Christ; and they clearly evince the inspiration of the law and the prophets. And so far as we admit the declarations of the Saviour, that the Comforter, the Spirit of truth, should come, and lead his disciples into all truth, we must also admit the truth of these apostolic teachings.
It may be thought difficult, perhaps impossible, to reconcile some expressions in the apostolic writings, with the idea that they regarded the law of Moses as divine. The most important of these we will notice. Paul says
the law "was weak through the flesh." He speaks of the ordinances of the law, as "having a show of wisdom, in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body, not in any honor to the satisfying of the flesh." He denies the perfection of the Levitical priesthood. He says it was "weak" and "unprofitable" that "the law made nothing perfect," but the bringing in of a better hope did. He says the first commandment was not "faultless." The gospel is called "a more excellent ministry," a "better covenant, established on better promises." The one was "the ministration of death," the other "the ministration of the Spirit;" the former "the ministration of condemnation," the latter "the ministration of righteousness.' The law imposed "a yoke which neither we," says Peter, 66 nor our fathers were able to bear." Its ordinances are said to be "against us, contrary to us," &c.
We shall find no difficulty in understanding these and like expressions, if we will give due weight to the following considerations: 1. In some instances, the terms applied to the law, are found in places where the law and the gospel are compared; and hence, the writer, in the use of a very common Hebraism, speaks of the one as weak, unprofitable, &c., when nothing more is meant than that, in some respects, it has less excellence than the other. Paul expresses this idea thus: "That which was made glorious, had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth." It is obvious that what he had just called the ministration of death, and of condemnation, was in truth a glorious system, though its glory was excelled by that of the gospel. 2. In some instances, the terms which seem to charge the law with weakness and imperfection, are suggested by the claim that was set up in favor of the law, as extending beyond its intended limits. It was perfect in its place. There it was not weak. But it was not fitted to a wider sphere, or a longer duration, than it had already attained. It was inefficient as a universal or perpetual system. And its obvious weakness, in the age of the apostles, was evidence that it was already abolished. 3. A system that is good in itself, may become evil to those who neglect or pervert its legitimate use. Thus Paul says, "As many as desire to make a fair show in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised, only lest
they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ. For neither they themselves who are circumcised, keep the law; but desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh.” That the law should be weak and inefficient, with this class of persons, is no evidence against its divine origin; and such were the Jews generally in the days of the apostles. 4. The law of Moses, in the time of Christ and the apostles, had become greatly corrupted by its combination with the tradition of the elders; and in some instances, it is the law corrupted, and not the original law of Moses, that is referred to; and hence, that, in this condition, terms of reproach should be applied to it, need not surprise us. The Saviour said of the scribes and Pharisees;-"They bind heavy burdens, and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers."
The same thing Paul denominates, in the immediate connexion, the "doctrines and commandments of men," using the same language, that the Saviour had used before, concerning the same thing.
It was the zeal which Paul had for this law, which he describes in the following passage:-"Ye have heard of my conversation, in time past, in the Jews' religion; how that, beyond measure, I persecuted the church of God; and profited in the Jews' religion above many my equals, in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of the elders." What he here called the Jews' religion, they themselves called the law of Moses; and before his conversion he would have honored it with the same title; and that it should sometimes be referred to under this designation, and be represented as it really was, weak, imperfect, burdensome, unprofitable, contrary to us, &c., is no more than the circumstances would lead us to expect.
I know of no passage that can be considered at all objectionable to our general argument, which may not be sufficiently explained by one or more of the above considerations.
V. There is another topic intimately connected with the foregoing, with which we will close this discussion. It is the relation we sustain to the Old Testament Scriptures.