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line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little.” Isa. xxviii. 10.
Baxter next asserts that the whole frame of the Mosaical law is changed, and the New Testament set up in its stead; and he draws this wholesale conclusion from Heb. vii. 11, 12; but in quoting this text he has shown deficiency of logical acumen, for if he had considered the drift of the apostle's argument, he would not have hoped for any support from it.
The quotation is thus; 11, “ If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should arise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron ? (12) for the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.” Hence Baxter argues, that because the Levitical priesthood was abolished, the whole Mosaical law, including the ten commandments, was also abolished. But what is the apostle's argument ? He adduces the abolition of the priesthood as a proof that the law, which he had in view, was abolished. And why? because the law, of which he spoke, required the ministration of a priesthood, and could not exist without it, otherwise the cessation of the priesthood would have been no proof whatever of the cessation of the law. Now, what was the law that required the ministration of a priesthood? The law of ordinances, of sacrifices, &c. that is, the ceremonial law: for this law alone required a priesthood to celebrate it, and depended upon it--but this could not be said of any other law, and to no other law could this argument by possibility extend. Therefore Baxter's argument goes no further than to prove the abolition of the ceremonial law, which nobody denies; therefore he stands refuted by his own quotation. There is also further proof in the text itself, that the law alluded to by the apostle could not include the decalogue. He says, “ the people received the law,” (the law of which he spoke,) “under the Levitical priesthood.” Now the commandments were given out before the Levitical priesthood was established, before the “ transgression” which caused much of the ceremonial law (the “yoke”) to be enacted and “ added,” which required the priesthood ; and therefore the decalogue remains secure and untouched, although the priesthood may have been abolished, and the ceremonial law, which that priesthood was appointed to administer, has been repealed, or rather fulfilled.
Baxter lastly quotes, Eph. ii. 15, 16, “ Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments .... in ordinances, for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace, and that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby.” Baxter remarks, that the law here mentioned cannot be exclusive of the chief part of the law. This remark surprises me, as the apostle took particular care to prevent him and others from falling into this mistake. For he cautiously confines his argument to the commandments of ordinances or the ceremonial law. And he still further guards his meaning by saying, that it was the enmity of the commandments which he had abolished. He set aside the demand for perfect obedience, and the condemnation which followed from any single transgression. “He made of two one man.” The whole context shows that the “two" were the Jews and the Gentiles. See verses 5, 6, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17. In agreement with the above quotation, St. Paul, in Coloss. ii. 14, calls the ceremonial law “the handwriting of ordinances, that was against us, which was contrary to us; this shows the meaning of the enmity of those particular “commandments in ordinances,” mentioned in the first quotation. This text is also quoted by Baxter. Was the sabbath enmity? was it against us ? was it a yoke too heavy to be borne ? was it a penal law added because of transgression ?
Baxter joins with all the other opponents of the sabbath in asserting, that it was one of the shadows of good things to come, and therefore to be abolished when the substance was come. But not one of the authors of these shadowy and unsubstantial arguments has attempted to prove either part of their proposition. They have not attempted to prove that the sabbath is a shadow; they have not attempted to show of what it is a shadow; they have neither proved what the substance of the sabbath is, nor have they shown that it is come--but all this they ought to have proved and shown, before their argument could weigh a feather. But, my fellowChristian ! is the sabbath a shadow? Is the knowledge of God the Creator of heaven and earth, a shadow ? Is the adoration of Him, at the footstool of whose throne all the hosts of heaven bow down, a shadow ? Are prayers and praises a shadow ? Is the spiritual delight of man- that which is holy of the Lord and honourable—what leads man to delight in him, in whose presence is fulness of joy, and at whose right hand are pleasures for evermore,—is this a shadow? But if it be in any sense to be considered as a shadow of any good thing to come, as a type or representation of any future blessing, what that glorious substance is to be, what it is worthy to represent, our authors have not told us. Let us ask St. Paul, and he gives the answer in Heb. iv. 9, where, alluding to heaven, he says, there remaineth a rest to the people of God. The word translated rest (oaßßariouoc,) signifies a “sabbath keeping, and that perpetual sabbath keeping is to be in heaven. If the sabbath be a shadow, or type or representation of anything, it is of this, and it must continue until its antitype, its substance, be unfolded in the splendour of the eternal world.
THERE is yet another class of objections, of which some of my readers may not have heard, and others may consider obsolete; but which I cannot leave altogether unnoticed. I mean those derived from a consideration of the laws of nature, and also from a distinction supposed by some persons to exist in revelation itself between moral and positive laws.
By the laws of nature, these advocates understand such laws of human conduct, as can be discovered and proved independently of revelation, by the mere light of natural reason, from the nature of man and of the world. These laws, although latterly a little out of fashion and repute, formerly occupied a great share of the attention of the learned. Eminent heathens, and ancient philosophers, were praiseworthy in using the only light they had. But the investigation of these laws has also occupied the attention of two very different classes in more modern times. One class endeavoured to prove their existence, and establish their authority as external buttresses to support the edifice of revealed religion; the other for the purpose of setting up a rival, and providing a substitute, to prove revelation unnecessary.
These two classes contrived to erect beautiful systems, which, perhaps, they persuaded themselves that they had extracted from human nature, and the nature of things. But they unwittingly borrowed the laws themselves, either directly from revelation itself, or from the more improved state of morals imperceptibly transfused into society by the operation of revelation. One class acted honestly, but the infidels dishonestly; having endeavoured by the aid of the Scriptures to erect a system in opposition thereto, they lighted up their censers, on which they burned incense to the Goddess of Reason, by fire stolen from the altar. But to know really what kind of laws of nature unassisted reason is capable of eliciting, we must examine the systems of the wisest heathens : and the more we examine, the less satisfaction shall we find; and the greater necessity we shall find of a divine revelation. In the writings of the most eminent heathens on the laws of nature, we find scanty and contradictory laws, with feeble sanctions, whose slender voice was drowned by the turbulent uproar of human passions and the importunate and craving demands of human appetites and desires. In truth, the investigators of the laws of nature remind me of Gulliver's philosophers, leaving the full light of day and retiring into a dark room to make light for themselves by re-extracting the absorbed solar rays from cucumbers.
What are the laws of nature but the laws of God dimly guessed at from the consideration of his works? But as “the world by wisdom knew not God," how can worldly wisdom discover his laws? And how can they who, when they did know God, did not wish to retain him in their knowledge, set themselves to investigate those holy laws, the very holiness of which indisposed them to the knowledge and worship of their divine Author? Inasmuch as “the carnal mind, and the natural man is at enmity with God, and neither is nor can be subject to the law of God,” (Rom. viii. 7,) how can it set itself candidly and disinterestedly to investigate his laws, and ascertain his will ? " The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God [even when made known to him,] for they are foolishness to him; neither cun he know them, for they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Cor. ii. 14,) « The wisdom which descendeth not from above is earthly, sensual, devilish.”—Hopeful Legislator!