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upon the top of it.
Terrors and threatenings were the sanctions of the Mosaic dispensation; and the effect which it produced by them was shown under it to the fullest extent.
But this glory which attended the giving of the law, is not that which is referred to by the apostle in the text. In the preceding verse he speaks of the glory of the countenance of Moses, which prevented the Israelites from looking stedfastly upon him, and made them afraid to come nigh to him, when he descended from the mount with the tables of the law in his hand. As the minister of that dispensation, Moses was invested with a temporary glory, which made the Israelites stand in awe of him. His ministry is called in the text the ministry of condemnation. cepts of the moral law were all prohibitions. They showed the sins which mankind were prone to commit, the manner in which they failed in their duty toward God and their duty toward their neighbour. And to those who committed the sins forbidden, the law declared, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. It thus pointed out to fallen man that he was in a state of condemnation before God. It dealt with him as a transgressor.
It filled him with alarm, and held him under bondage to fear lest he should receive the wages due to his sins, or suffer the penalty of transgression. It provided no means
of pardon for his offences, no way of escape from the wrath which it denounced against sin; and it promised no grace to enable him to obey its righteous commands. It condemned him as a transgressor, and left him under sentence, to suffer the penalty when the time of his earthly probation had expired. The apostle therefore calls it the ministration of death. It proclaimed death to be the wages of sin, the death of both body and soul, or temporal and eternal death.
There are instances on record that he that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses, 41 on their testimony being given that he had transgressed it.
Such was the case with the man who blasphemed the name of the Lord, and cursed. On which occasion it was solemnly declared, Whosoever curseth his God shall bear his sin; and he that blasphemeth the name of the Lord, he shall surely be put to death; all the congregation shall certainly stone him. Such was also the case with the sabbath-breaker, who was found gathering sticks upon the sabbath day. The Lord said unto Moses, The man shall surely be put to death; all the congregation shall stone him with stones without the camp.*3 The breach of the third and fourth commandments is thought lightly of by many persons in the present day; but it is an awful truth, that God will not hold guiltless
41 Heb, x. 28.
42 Lev. xxiv. 11, 15, 16.
43 Num. xv. 32, 35. 44 Heb.x. 31. 45 Eccles. xii. 14. 46 Ex.xxxii. 16; xxxiv. 29-31,33.
those who despise His holy law. scoff at His commandments while they are in this world; they may manifest their ingratitude to Him, while He giveth to them all life and breath and all things. They may partake of His benefits, and set at nought the Giver, to whom they are indebted for them ; but His word declares that the soul that sinneth it shall die ; and it will be found a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God,“ when His mercy is clean gone for ever: Where shall the ungodly and the sinner then appear, when God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil ?45 They shall go away into everlasting punishment ; eternal death will be their portion.
It is intimated further, that the Mosaical dispensation was the ministry of the letter, written and engraven in stones. . We are ready to think how valuable must the tables of the law have been, when it is said of them, The tables were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, graven upon the tables. 46
But if the commandments were so important, that God was pleased Himself to engrave them upon the stones, in order to cause the greater attention to be paid to them, how dreadful must be the consequence of disregarding them. It was the ministration of condemnation, of death, of the letter which killeth,
to the disobedient. But notwithstanding, it was a glorious dispensation, as a revelation of the will of God to man; pointing out the way to happiness and the enjoyment of the favour of God, by means of walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. It was glorious in its sanctions, and glorious in its minister.
To this the apostle refers, by saying that it was so glorious, that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance. The sacred historian relates, that it came to pass, when Moses came down from mount Sinai with the two tables of testimony in his hand; and when Åaron, and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone, and they were afraid to come nigh him. And Moses called unto them, and they came nigh. And till he had done speaking with them, he put a vail on his face. The glory of his countenance was the reflection of the glory of the Lord upon him, while He talked with him. This glory was to be done away; it passed off after a little time. It was transitory, like the dispensation of which it was an emblem. But for a season the minister of this dispensation appeared so glorious, that his countenance struck terror into those who beheld it. And the dispensation itself, as long as it lasted, was evidently the most glorious manifestation of the goodness of God that had ever been displayed.
But however glorious it appeared to the Israelites for many ages, the apostle shows that the glory of the Mosaic dispensation fades away when it is compared with the Christian dispensation. The former has no glory at all in comparison with the latter. For even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth. The Christian dispensation is not indeed glorious in its terrors as the Mosaic was.
It was not promulgated amidst thunderings and lightnings and earthquakes; but by the heavenly hosts appearing in glory, and singing in joyful concert, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will towards men. Its nature may be illustrated by a circumstance in the history of the prophet Elijah. He went into the wilderness, and stood on mount Horeb. And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake ; but the Lord was not in the earthquake ; and after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.*7
So it is by the still small voice of the Spirit of God, a voice not heard, unnoticed, disregarded by the children of this world, that the glory of the Christian dispensation is manifested to the hearts and consciences of those who are made partakers of its blessings.