Wednesday, April 18, 2018

The Abrahamic Covenant, by Dr. George B. Fletcher, Ch. 8 Part 1

Chapter VIII - Part 1
Commonly Called the Moral Law
     Christ adopted the eternal rule of righteousness, or Moral Law, as the law of His kingdom; and delivered it to His disciples to be the rule of their obedience and con­formity to Him, and that in a manner suitable to the more perfect state of things under the New Covenant.
     This law is not like positive or temporary institut­ions, which depend entirely upon the will of the Instituter; but is founded on the very nature of God, being a trans­cript of His holiness, justice, and goodness. It is founded on our relation to Him as His creatures, and the subjects of His moral government-and on our relation to one another, as possessed of the same common nature, and connected by various ties. It stands uoon the immutable and essential distinction between moral good and evil, right and wrong; and so, for instance, must remain the same under every dispensation.
     The principle or spirit of this law is perfect love to God and our neighbor. Our Lord sums it up thus, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two command­ments·hang all the law and the prophets" (Matt. 22 :37-41). As God is possessed of every perfection and excellency in Himself, and is the author and end of our being, and the source of all happiness; so the first and great commandment of the law requires, that we should love Him in the first place, with a supreme, perfect, and undivided affection possessing our whole heart, soul, and mind. Therefore this love is not compared with that which we owe to ourselves or to our fellow-creatures. But the second command of the law, "Thou shalt love thy neighbor AS THYSELF," makes the love of ourselves the rule and measure of our love to others. Upon this principle our Lord establishes a plain arid comprehensive rule to direct us in the practical exer­cise of love to our neighbor. Matt. 7:12 -- "All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them; for this is the law and the prophets." Love is the end of the commandment (1 Tim. 1:5), the fulfilling of the law; and the different precepts are just so many directions to the proper and practical exercise of love (Rom.13:8-11; Gal. 5:14; James 2:8,9). Consequently, Whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all" (Jas. 2:10, 11); for, in that instance, he violates the common principle which pervades the whole; namely, love.
The Law and Adam
     As Adam was originally made upright (Eccl. 7 :29), and created after the image of God (Gen. 1:26, 27), he must have had this law written on his heart as the law of creation, answerable to the manifestation he had of God in the Garden of Eden. The Philadelphia Confession of Faith, Chapter 19, paragraph 1 states:
     "God gave to Adam a law of universal obedience written in his
     heart, and a particular precept of not eating the fruit of the tree
     of knowledge of good and evil; by which He bound him and all
     his posterity to personal, entire, exact, and perpetual obedience;
     promised life upon the fulfilling, and threatened death upon the
     breach of it, and endued him with power and ability to keep it."
The Law and the Fall
     Notwithstanding the Fal1; there are still traces of this law remaining in the conscience of every man suffi­cient to constitute him a sinner, render him inexcusable, and condemn him. From these natural notices of God and His law, the apostle convinces the heathen of sin (Rom. 1:20, 32; 2:14, 15).
The Law and the Nation of Israel
     This same law that was first written in the heart of man continued to be a perfect rule of righteousness after the Fall. But when God separated the fleshly seed,of Abraham from the nations, redeemed them out of Egypt, and ENTERED INTO A COVENANT WITH THEM AT SINAI, He delivered them this law as the very words of that covenant (Exod. 34:28, Deut. 4:13; 5:2, 3, 22; 9:9, 11), and wrote it with His own finger in ten commandments upon two tables of stone (Exod. 30:18). The first four commandments contain our duty to God, and the other six our duty to man. The Philadelphia Confession of Faith, Chapter 19, paragraphs 3 and 4, states:
     "Besides this law, commonly called moral, God was pleased to
     give to the people of Israel, ceremonial laws, containing several
     typical ordinances, partly of' worship, prefiguring Christ, His
     graces, actions, sufferings, and benefits; and partly holding forth
     divers instructions of moral duties, all which cere­monial laws
     being appointed only to the time of reformation (Heb. 10:1; 9:10;
     Co. 2:17; 1 Cor. 5:7). are by Jesus Christ the true Messiah and
     only Lawgiver, who was furnished with power from the Father
     for that end, abrogated and taken away (Col. 2: 14, 16, 17; Eph.
     2:14,15). To them also He gave sundry judi­cial laws, which ex-
     pired together with the state of that people, not obliging any now
     by virtue of that institution; their general equity (1 Cor. 9: 3-10)
     only being of moral use."
The Law: Its Letter and Spirit
     The apostle Paul distinguishes the law into LETTER and SPIRIT. FIRST, as it stood in that peculiar covenant at Sinai, it was suited to the manifestation which God made of Himself to that earthly nation as their God who had redeemed them out of Egypt (Exod. 20:2). It bound them to observe all the statutes and judgments, ceremonial and judicial, contained in the book of the Mosaic law. These were the explication at large of the ten precepts of the covenant, as applied and adapted to the peculiar state of that people. Consequently, in breaking any of these, they transgressed the law written on the tables. Thus it was the rule of their national righteousness, according to which they enjoyed the good things of the earthly inheritance (Deut. 5:31-33). It·was sanctioned by temporal rewards and punishments suited to that worldly establishment, wherein God stood related to them as their political Sovereign. This was the LETTER of the law; and touching the righteousness which is in it, the apostle says he was blameless (Phil. 3:6). SECOND, but when we consider this law as requiring perfect love to God and our neighbor (Deut. 6:5; Lev. l9:18), forbidding every lust and irregular emotion of the heart (Exod. 20:17), promising eternal life upon condition of perfect obedi­ence (Rom. 2:13; 10:5; Matt. 19:15-22; Luke 10:28). and denouncing the curse. of God upon the least failure (Gal. 3:10), it is evident that neither old Israel, nor any of the sinful race of Adam could ever personally stand in covenant with God, or obtain eternal life upon such terms {Psa. 130:3; Eccl. 7:20; Rom. 3:g-23). Hence, the apostle, who had been blameless as to the outward righteousness of the letter, found himself' condemned by the precept against covetousness, which led him to see the spiritual extent of the rest (Rom. 7:7-14). The law in this sense, there­fore, was given to convince of sin, and its demerit (Rom. 3:20; 5:20; Gal. 3:19), and with a view to the promised Seed, who was to come of that people, to be made under this law, fulfill it, and bear its curse for his guilty people of all nations (Psa. 40:6-9; Gal. 4:4, 5; 3:13, 14). Thus Christ obtained for them the remission of sins, and the eternal inheritance (Rom. 5:19; Gal. 3:16-24; Heb. 9: l5). This, with the law written on the hearts of the true Israel (2 Cor. 3:3; Heb. 8:10), is the SPIRIT of that law which was delivered to Israel according to the flesh, in the peculiar covenant made with them at Sinai.

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