תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

manship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” These are our fruits, and by these fruits of righteousness is the knowledge of God retained and manifested. “Ye are the light of the world (saith our Lord.) A city set upon an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick, and it giveth light to all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”*

Had not the Jew walked in the commandments and ordinances of the law, he would soon have lost the knowledge of the way of truth; for by these works of the law that knowledge was preserved uncorrupted, and remained pure, until the word of God became so corrupted by the traditions of men, as to be made of none effect. Then, indeed, so far as these traditions prevailed, by their glosses, to obscure the works of God, the Jews became blinded, and incapable of recognizing either the person or the work of the Messiah, although He came unto them in the name of His Father, and doing his Father's work. It is written, that “blindness in part happened unto Israel ;” and this partial blindness caused that unbelief, for which they were eventually cast off. Refusing to be any longer witnesses for God, they in their zeal, without knowledge, crucified Him who did witness to His Father. And thus it came to pass, that those only who abode in the truth by faith, and walked in the commandments

* Matt. v. 14-16.

came.

and ordinances of the law, waiting for the consolation of Israel, received that consolation when it

66 For he is not a Jew which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew which is one inwardly: and circumcision is that of the heart; in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.”

It is clear, then, that the true circumcision--that is, the Jew that worshipped God in spirit and in truth-was justified by faith in the righteousness of a Mediator; and in this faith walked before God, doing the works of the law. Thus it is written of Zacharias and Elizabeth, “that they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the law blameless.”* This fact is not contravened by the declaration of the apostle, that “the law is not of faith;" + because the apostle is here considering the law in the abstract, and as terminating in itself, apart from its teaching : and truly, in this light, the law is not of faith; yet did it teach and affirm that the just shall live by his faith.

Moreover, as contrasting the law with the gospel, it is affirmed that the law is not of faith-viz., that it is not that preaching or hearing of faith which the Gospel is. But even then it was a schoolmaster to bring men to Christ, when He should appearshutting them up to the faith to be afterwards revealed, and bidding them look for justification, not by the works of the law, but to the faith of Christ.

6.

+ Gal. iii. 12.

* Luke i. 5,

And although the law, with its oft-repeated sacrifices, could only “sanctify to the purifying of the flesh," yet it unceasingly directed the faith of the Jew to the one great Sacrifice, the faith of which prevailed to cleanse his conscience; so that the Jew, who was one inwardly, could ever approach God with a good conscience, and serve and worship Him acceptably under the law.

Its sanctuary is also said to be worldly, and its ordinances and commandments carnal : and this is true, inasmuch as the whole constitution of the law was of an earthly character, and its works, being composed of earthly materials, belonged to the elements and rudiments of this world. But it is at the same time to be borne in mind that this sanctuary, though worldly, was of divine appointment, and that all its works——the earthly things mentioned by our Lord in the third chapter of the Gospel of St. John

-were the works of God's own hands. So far, indeed, as they were outward, and composed of earthly materials, they were truly fleshly; but then, as such, they were constituted and ordained by God to be the shadows, though not the very image, of good things to come, and thus they perfected nothing; they taught the bringing in of a better hope which did, and which hope they shadowed forth: and even we, who have received this better hope, are only constituted the image of the heavenly things, and we wait for their final consummation in the kingdom and glory to come. Meanwhile, before the coming of the Messiah, the law served to enlighten the Jews in the way of man's justification before God by faith; but chiefly it constituted the Jews to be a people and a witness from God to the world, of a higher and more perfect dispensation yet to come, and of which, until the law, there had been no sufficient and intelligible witness. Thus, while they were especially selected to bear testimony to a higher constitution and order of things than that under which they lived, they were also instructed, as we have seen, to live by faith under the law. Moreover, circumcision itself plainly taught them this doctrine; because, though it became a part of the law, it existed previously to it, and was of the fathers, all of whom were justified

by faith.

Again, the law is said to be a ministration of condemnation and of death : and how truly this has been verified, let the death of the Lord Jesus Christ attest! For this law, we should remember, was ordained by angels, in the hands, not of the people, but of a Medialor, who was appointed to be their substitute. Upon Him came the condemnation and the death written in the law. To this Mediator the law was a ministry of death, whilst the people withal escaped. He was taken 66 ransom for them”-even " for all.“He tasted death for every man,” and bare our sins in His own body on the tree. And this the law abundantly testified by its oft-repeated sacrifices--the symbols of the one great Sacrifice, the blood of the everlasting covenant. The tabernacle and all its vessels of ministry were sprinkled with the blood of those victims offered in sacrifice: and almost all things, by the law, were purged with blood. And thus the Mediator was

a

continually set before the eyes of the people, as the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. It was on this ground that the Lord upbraided His disciples for their unbelief. 66 O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into His glory? And, beginning at Moses and all the prophets, He expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.” This ministration of condemnation, however, was glorious, chiefly as it respected the person and work of the Messiah, by whose obedience unto death the law was not only fulfilled, but magnified and rendered honourable, and an everlasting righteousness brought in. It was also glorious, as it respected the mercy of God to the Jew under this covenant, wherein a ransom was freely given for him and for all men: as it is written66 There is one Mediator between God and

man,

the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.” Indeed, the law was so glorious, that it can only be said of it, “it had no glory," when it is compared with the gospel, its glory disappearing “by reason of the glory which excelleth."

Before the coming of the Lord, and especially as His coming drew nigh, the majesty and holiness of God required such a witness as the law to set Him before the eyes of men. The multiplied transgressions, also, rendered such a mode of instruction absolutely necessary, in order to preserve the knowledge of God's ways, and to teach all men that God

« הקודםהמשך »