Page images

it can be shewn to demonstration that it was ever formally repealed.

But, so far from its being possible to shew any such matter, we have the express testimony of an apostle to the very reverse. Wherefore then serveth the Law ? IT WAS ADDED because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made'. The Law, it seems, WAS ADDED.

To what then was it thus made AN ADDITION ? Most certainly, as Bishop Warburton allows, to its sole legitimate predecessor, the religion of the ancient patriarchs. What then was this primeyal religion? The learned prelate contends, though with such concessions as to the patriarchs themselves as may well be thought to endanger the whole hypothesis, that the religion, which subsisted between the fall of man and the delivery of the Law from mount Sinai, was natural religion as contradistinguished from revealed religion ; that its leading article was the doctrine of the divine unity ; and that it neither knew nor taught the doctrine of a future retributory state, the want of such a doctrine being supplied, as it was afterward supplied in the case of the Israelites, by the constant exertion of an equal or extraordinary providence. He argues therefore, that, when the Law is said to have been ADDED to the patriarchal religion, nothing more is asserted, than that

! Gal. iii. 19.

it was added to the bare primeval doctrine of the divine unity : and he remarks, that it is described as having been added BECAUSE OF TRANSGRESSIONS, on the ground that there had been an universal apostasy to the abomination of polytheism'.

With respect to this view of the patriarchal religion, I have already shewn at large both its defectiveness and its radical erroneousness ? : for I have shewn, that the special object of that Dispensation was to declare the vital doctrine of redemption and reconciliation to God; which, even independently of direct testimony (as Bishop Warburton is well aware), involves of necessity the doctrine of a future retributory state. The Law consequently, being'ADDED to Patriarchism, was of course added to Patriarchism with all its doctrines and all its sanctions. But the doctrines of Patriarchism were not more the divine unity, than redemption and reconciliation to God through a promised Deliverer : and the sanction of the moral law, as existing under Patriarchism, was most assuredly not temporal rewards and punishments in this world (as the bishop, without a shadow of evidence, has ventured to maintain), but future rewards and punishments in another world. To these doctrines therefore, and to this sanction, the Law WAS ADDED. It revealed neither the one,

· Div. Leg. book v. sect. 1. p. 5.
* See above, book i. chap. 2.
• Ibid. chap. 4, 5, 6.

nor the other, of them; for they had both been revealed long before the promulgation of the Law: but to the doctrines were gradually ADDED particulars hitherto unknown; and to the sanction was aDDED the peculiar and exclusive sanction of the Law, when viewed as the common statute laro of the Hebrew nation, namely TEMPORAL rewards of obedience and TEMPORAL punishments of disobedience.

Doubtless the Law was added because of transgressions : but these transgressions did not consist of a mere lapse into polytheism; they rather consisted of such a lapse into it, as marred and corrupted and perverted the vital doctrine of redemption through the predicted Seed of the woman. Accordingly, we find the apostle alluding to this very circumstance. The Law was added indeed because of transgressions : but on what ground was it so added? In part, most assuredly, to preserve the doctrine of the divine unity in the midst of surrounding polytheism; for this was one of the objects of the Law: but then, in part also, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made, in part also to preserve the doctrine of redemption in the midst of the superstitious dreams of Gentilism; for this was the other grand object of the Law.

Such then was the reason, and such the ground, of a most remarkable and a most important ADDITION being made to the old patriarchal religion. The Law was of no further value than to preserve, with increasing light,

what was already known; until at length the Seed should come, to whom the promise was made.

2. This view of the subject perfectly accords, both with the apostle's declaration in the context, and with certain other declarations in the New Testament respecting the sanctions of the Law which might at first seem to contradict the express language of the Law itself.

(1.) The Law WAS ADDED; that is to say, as Bishop Warburton justly observes, WAS ADDED to the old religion of the patriarchs. But what was the old religion of the patriarchs, as described by St. Paul in the context ? He tells us, that Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness ; that the Scripture foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith; PREACHED BEFORE THE GOSPEL UNTO ABRAHAM, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed; and that Christ hath redeemed us, in order that through him the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles'. He then goes on to tell us, that the Law WAS ADDED: to the old patriarchal religion, as Bishop Warburton allows; to the old patriarchal religion which preached no other than the anticipated Gospel itself, as we are unequivocally assured by the learned apostle. If then the Law WAS ADDED to Patriarchism, thus preaching the inseparably united doctrines of redemption through a Mediator and of a future state of rewards and punishments : it plainly must have received from Patriarchism that identical sanction of the moral commandments, which is held forth under the Gospel itself. ·

i Galat. iii, 6, 8, 13, 14.

Thus, notwithstanding the characteristic and EXCLUSIVE sanction of the Law, when viewed solely as the national law of Israel administered by a Theocracy, consisted of TEMPORAL REWARDS and of TEMPORAL PUNISHMENTS: yet the unrepealed sanction of that Patriarchism, to which it WAS. ADDED, still continued to be FUTURE REWARDS and FUTURE PUNISHMENTS, so far as the moral duties were concerned. :. (2.) Such, if I mistake not, is the true key to that apparent contrariety which we sometimes find, between the declarations of the Law respecting itself, and the declarations of the Gospel respecting the Law.

The Law positively and most unequivocally declares, that its sanction is temporal rewards and punishments: yet the Gospel more than once argues in such a manner, that, unless we allow the sanction of the Law to have been future rewards and punishments, the argument is quite inconclusive.

Of this description is the reasoning of our blessed Lord himself.

Behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying; Master, what shall I do to inherit ETERNAL LIFE ? He said unto him, What is written in THE LAW ? How readest thou? And he answering said: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with

« PreviousContinue »