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Had CHRIST been to have introduced a new law, it must have appeared fomewhere in His * commision: we have several transcripts of this, relative to all His offices, but not a single clause is there in any of them to + that purpose. His commission as a priest appears in several
* In Deut. xviii. 18, 19. it is said — I will raise them up a PROPHET from among their brethren, like unto thee, and I will put MY WORDS in His mouth, and He fall Speak unto them ALL THAT I SHALL COMMAND HIM. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto My WORDS, which He Mall Speak IN MY NAME, I will require it of him. And, ver. 15. The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a PROPHET in the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto Him ye shall hearken. This general account of CHRIST's mission as a Prophet, seems to militate against every idea of His setting up a new law of His
Had He done this, He had not been like Mofes, who received the law from God, and delivered it to the people, but like Mahomet, who invented a new law of His own, in opposition to the law of God, and imposed it upon his followers as containing the only true religion and worship: whereas the blessed JESUS gave this test of His mission, John iii. 34. He whom God bath sent, Speaketh the words of God-for the truth of this, His conftant appeal was to the writings of the Old Testament.
I would recommend the consideration of what is here. said, to those, who talk of a law of the gospel, more pure and perfect than the law of Moses. So spake Socinus, and, after him, too many in this our day- I have heard this, from more than one pulpit.
+ If our blessed Saviour came to overturn the law of Moses, it is a little extraordinary that he should give so strict a charge to the multitudes, and to his disciples, to hear and practise it-(Matt. xxiii. i, 2, 3.) saying, the Scribes and the Pharisees (who were the ordinary teachers among the Jews) sit in Moses' seat : ALL therefore WHATSOEVER they bid you to observë, (that is, ALL that is agreeable to the law of Moses) observe and do.
parts of the Old Testament, and is thus shortly summed up, Dan. ix. 24.-To finish the tranfgreffion—to make an end of fins—to make reconciliation for iniquity and (thus) to bring in everlasting righteousness.-As a prophet, says he, by If. lxi. 1. &c. The Spirit of the LORD God is upon Me, because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek: He hath sent Me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound: to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn : to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness, that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He might be glorified. There is nothing about a new law in this part of our SAVIOUR's commission.
As to His kingly ofice, on which He entered after His resurrection from the dead, when He had a name given Him above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things on earth, and things under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that JESUS CHRIST is LORD, to the glory of God the Father–His kingdom was to be administered not by any new law, but by that which was from the beginning, Our Lord does not make the least exception, nor hint at the smallest innovation, but Favla doa-omnia quæcunque-all things whatsoever-therefore, doubtless, relative to marriage, as well as to every thing else.
once written on tables of stone, but now to be written on the fleshly tables of the heart, 2 Cor. iii. 3. For thus faith the LORD- This is the Covenant that I will make with the house of ISRAEL; after those days I will put MY LAW in their inward parts, and write it in their bearts, and will be their God, and they shall be my people. Jer. xxxi. 33. Comp.Heb.viii. 10.
If Christ then gave a new law, or rule of life, He exceeded His commission, and we must call in question His veracity, as well as His fincerity, in that declaration of His, Matt. v. 17, 18, 19. likewise as to what he says, John xii. 49, 50. I have not spoken of MYSELF, but the Father which sent me He GAVE ME A COMMANDMENT, what I should say *, and what I should speak—and I know that HIS COMMANDMENT is lifeeverlasting: (Comp, Rom. x. 5. Gal. iii. 12.) whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto Me fo I Speak. See Deut. xviii. 18, 19. In exact conformity with all this, it is said, Heb. i. 1. God, who at sundry times, and in divers manners, Spake in time past unto the fathers by the
* If the Father gave CHRIST a commandment to declare that to be a mortal sin against the seventh commandment, which was uniformly allowed as innocent under the Old Testament, this must infer either a change in the divine mind and will, or an absolute contradiction: this last is usually got rid of, as the Mahometan doctors get rid of the contradictions in the Koran-by their doctrine of abrogation :-for they pretend that “God commanded feve“ ral things in the Koran, which, for good reasons,
were afterwards revoked and abrogated.” Thus do some of our Chriftian Doctors treat the Old Testament, in order to establish certain doctrines which they suppose to be taught in the New Testament respecting marriage,
Prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son. These words are expressly and particularly addressed to the Hebrews; and the whole subsequent epiftle proves the uniformity and unchangeableness of the Divine will, and that the Christian dispensation declared none other things than Moses and the Prophets did say should come to pass. Comp. Acts xxvi. 22.
But to return once more to our Saviour's discourse with the Pharisees :-Can it be imagined that CHRIST, so remarkable for his precision, fo thoroughly accurate in all He said on every other point, should use so little in this, as not to make Himself understood by His hearers ? Nay-that He should observe so little precision, as not to describe an offence, which we are to suppose Him to condemn? The most flagrant instances, the most obvious and palpable definitions of polygamy cannot be understood from what He says.--He that putteth away his wife, * by bill of divorcement, and marrieth another does not describe a man's taking two wives together, and cohabiting with both; nor-a man's having a wife, and taking another to her, and cohabiting with both. Such was the Old Testament polygamy, not the putting away one in order to take ano
* This is the sense of the word á TORūrai. Matt. xix. 7, 8, 9; and it is to be remarked, that this ingredient of putting away, enters into the definition, and therefore into the very essence of the offence which Christ condemns ; but it is very certain that it is not of the essence of polygamy, nor does it enter into the definition of it.
ther.-I do not recollect a single instance in which this was ever done during the whole administration of Moses, the Judges, or Kings, any more than a single instance where polygamy was forbidden t. However the law of Moses forbad what our Saviour mentions, just as much as His words do. If a man once took a woman, he never (except for adultery) could
away all bis days; and though Moses suffered, in order to avoid worse consequences, divorces for other causes beside adultery, by not bringing the offenders to condign punilhment in every instance, yet there never was an instance when the law of God did not condemn them. As for polygamy, Josephus says, and the Bible proves what he says to be true, that" It was the custom of the Jews to live “ with a plurality of wives; he calls it "! TRTplov--thecustom of their country, deriv, 6 ed from their fathers.”The same hiftorian, writing the account of God's giving the deceased Saul's wives to David, obferves, that, “ God gave
wives, which " he might juftly and lawfully have.” The Pefeta, on Lev. xviii. calls it, “ notifimum" a thing most notorious, “ that He who said " it was forbidden to have more wives than
one, was entirely ignorant of the law.”. See Grot. de Jure, lib. ii. c. 5. $ 9. in the note k.
Is it then, without the highest absurdity, to be imagined, that CHRIST should mention
+ Unless we understand Lev. xx i. 13, 14. to forbid it in the case of the hi gh-pries, as the Jews commonly understood it.