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Here, as also in Moses, and other Prophets, an es. tablishment in righteousness is promised to the Israel. ites, such as shall secure their future prosperity; and this promise has not yet been fulfilled. The promise of future virtue as connected with their future happiness is also clearly expressed in Jer. ch. iii. 18.'
Had the Jewish nation become extinct, or likely to become so, it might with some plausibility have been said by Christians, that the purposes of God concerning them were actually fulfilled, and therefore that the words of the promise must have had some other signi. fication than that which was most obvious. But the Jews are as much a distinct people as they ever were, and therefore seem reserved for some future strange destination.
On the whole, it must be allowed, that the settlement of Israel in the land of Canaan, foretold with such emphasis by the Prophets, is a settlement which has not yet taken place, but may take place in that period se frequently, and so emphatically distinguished by the title of “ the latter days ;” and therefore that whatever is said of Jewish customs, or modes of worship in the latter days” is a proof of the meant restoration of their ancient religious rites.
That the institutions of the Mosaic Law are to be continued on the restoration of the Jews to their own Jand after their utter dispersion, is asserted by Moses himself in one of the passages already quoted; but is more clearly expressed by the subsequent Prophets. In some of their prophecies particular mention is made of the observance of Jewish festivals, and of sacrifices ; and in Ezechiel we find a description of a nagnificent Temple, which, being closely connected with his proph. ecy of the future happy state of the Israelites in their own land, cannot be understood of any other than a Temple which is then, according to the Hebrew Proph. ets, to be reared with greater magnificence than ever. Mention is also made of “the Glory of the Lord," or that effulgent Shechinah which was the symbol of the divine presence, filling this Temple, as it did that of Solomon.
Ezech. xliii. 1, &c. “ Afterward he brought me to the gate, even the gate that looketh toward the East; and behold the glory of the Lord came from the way of the East, and his voice was like the noise of many waters, and the Earth shined with his Glory.--And the Glory of the Lord came into the house by the way of the gate, whose prospect is toward the East. So the Spirit took me up, and brought me into the inner court, and behold the Glory of the Lord filled the house. And he said unto me, Son of man, the place of my Throne, and the place of the soles of my feet, where I will dwell in the midst of the children of Israel forever, and my holy name shall the house of Israel no more defile," &c.
Towards the end of the same chapter we read an account of the dedication of this new I'emple by sacrifices; and particular directions are given in the succeeding chapters for the Priests, and for the Prince. If therefore there be any truth in these prophecies, the Jews are not only to return to their own country, and to be distinguished among the nations, but are to rebuild the Temple, and to restore the ancient Worship.
Having proved that the Old Testament declares the perpetuity of the Mosaic Law, I proceed 2dly to prove that it is declared to be perpetual by Jesus himself.
But before I adduce my proofs, I beg leave to preinise, that when any Law is solemnly enacted, we expect that the abrogation of it should be equally solemn, and express, in order that no room for dispute may remain upon the subject. Accordingly, it is the custom I believe, in all countries, not to make any new Law, CONtradictory to another before subsisting, without a previous express abrogation of the old one. And certainly it appears to me a strange notion to suppose, that the elaborate and noble Law given from mount Sinai amidst cireumstances unexampled, awful, and tremendously magvificent, and believed to have been declared by the voice of God to be a perpetual and everlasting Code, should vanish, perish, and be annihilated by the mere dictum of twelve fishermen !!
But the fact is otherwise, for Jesus was so far from teaching the abrogation of that law, that he expressly
says" Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the Prophets, I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. 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.” This is a most explicit declara
tion that not the smallest punctilio in the law of Moses was intended to be set aside by the Gospel. Nay more, he expressly commanded his disciples to the same purpose--" The Scribes and Pharisees (says he,) sit in Moses' seat ; all therefore whatsoever they command you, that observe, and do."
It is said in answer to this by Christian Divines, that his discourse relates to things of a moral nature, and that he only meant, that no part of the Moral Law was to be abolished. But besides that the expression is general, there could be no occasion to make so solemn a declaration against what he could not have been suspected of intending, viz. of abolishing the moral law. He seems in his discourse to have had in view the ad. ditions that had been made to the law. These he sets aside, but no part of the original law itself. . It has also been urged that by fulfilling, may be meant such an accomplishment of it as would imply the superceding of it when the purposes for which it was instituted should be answered. To silence this expli. cation it will be sufficient to produce a few out of many passages of the New Testament where the term fulfil occurs in connexion with the term law. Thus Paul says, Gal. v. 14, 66 All the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this, thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself,” -and again, Rom. xiii. 8, 6. He that loveth another hath fulfilled the law." But certainly notwithstanding this fulfillment of the moral law, it remains in as full force as ever.
The Apostles understood Jesus to mean as we have asserted. For it is evident from the Acts, that the Christians at Jerusalem were zealous in attachment to the law of Moses ; this is evident from their surprise at Peter's conduct with regard to Cornelius ; and in the dispute about imposing circumcision upon the Gene tiles : observe there was no dispute about its being obligatory upon Jews.
Paul was indeed vehemently accused of teaching a contrary doctrine, as we find in the history of the transactions respecting him in his last journey to Jerusalem. Acts xxi. 21, “ They (i. e, the Christians) are informed of thee (says James to Paul) that thou teachest all the Jews which are among the Gentiles, to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after the customs.” Here James gives Paul to understand that he considered the report as a culumny, and accordingly, to convince the Jewish Christians that it was a false report, he advises Paul to be at charges with some Jewish Christians, who were under a vow of Nazaritism, (which is an instance in point to prove that the first Christians kept the law,) and thus publickly manifest that he himself 6 walked orderly, and kept the law.” Paul complies with this advice, and purified himself in the temple, and did what was done in like cases by the strictest Jews. He also circumcised Timothy, who was a convert to Chris., tianity, because he was the son of a Jewish Mother. And he solemnly declared in open court, Acts xxv. 8, 66 Against the law of the Jews, neither against the Temple, have I offended any thing at all," and again, to the Jews at Rome, Acts xxviii. 7, he assures them that“ be had done nothing agaiust the people, or the customs of the Fathers,"
But some men will say, “ did not Paul expressly teach the abrogation of the law in his Epistles, especially in that to the Galatians ?" I answer, he undoubtedly did ; and in so doing he contradicted the Old Testament, his master Jesus, the twelve Apostles, and himself too. But how can this be ? “I answer, it isn one of my concern to reconcile the conduct of Paul ; or to defend his equivocations. It is pretty clear, that he did not dare to preach this doctrine at Jerusalem. He confined this hidden wisdum," to the Gentiles. To the Jews he became as a Jew; and to the uncircumcised as one uncircumcised, he was all things to all men!” and for this conduct he gives you his reason, viz.“ that he was determined at any rate to gain some." If this be double dealing, dissimulation, and equivocation, I cannot help it ; ii is none of my concern, I leave it to the Commentators, and the reconciliators, the disciples of Surenhusius ; let thein look to it ; perhaps they can hunt up some “ traditionary rules of interpretation among the Jews," that will help them to explain the matter.
Lastly, it has been said that there was no occasion for Jesus, or his Apostles to be very explicit with respect to the abolition of the laws of Moses, since the Temple was to be soon destroyed, when the Jewish worsbip would cease of course.
This argument, flimsy as it is, is nevertheless the instar omnium of the Christian Divines to prove the abolishment of this Law : (for the other arguments adduced by them as prophecies of it froin the 1 ch. of Isaiah, and some of the Psalms, are nothing to the purpose; they being merely declarations of God, that he preferred obedience in the weightier matters of the Law, Justice, mercy, and Holiness, to ceremonial observances ; and that repentance was of more avail with him than offering thousands of rains, and fed beasts,) and this argument like so many others, when weighed in the balance will be found wanting.”
For, as the destruction of the Temple by Nebuchad. nezzar certainly did not abolish the Law, so neither did the destruction by Titus do it. And as it would be notoriously absurd to maintain the first, so it is equally. so to maintain the last position. Besides, a very considerable part of that Law can be, and for these seventeen hundred years has been kept without the Temple. As for example, circa cision, distinction of meats, and many others. And w'n, if ever, they shall return to their own land, and rebuild the Temple, they will then, according to the Old Testament, observe the Whole, and with greater splendour than ever.
As Christians lay great stress upon their argument for the truth of their Religion, derived from the supposed miraculous conversion of Paul ; and since almost the whole of Systematic Christianity is built upon the