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cided, the divine authority of the system, as well as its wisdom and its efficacy, stands clear of all reasonable exception. Its authority stands unimpeached, resting upon the miraculous agency by which it was introduced and established. Its wisdom and efficacy are manifested by its results. That it was not only admirably adapted to produce the intended effects, but did actually produce them, is indisputable. It not only presented a striking contrast to the Pagan idolatries, both as to the objects of their worship, and the detestable practices with which they were accompanied; but it also rendered a conformity with those practices utterly impossible, without a certainty of incurring the most tremendous penalties.
The other purpose of the ceremonial Law relates to its more immediate connection with the Christian dispensation.
“ The Law,” says the Apostle, “ schoolmaster, to bring us unto Christh." It prescribed a variety of ordinances, which, with respect to their full significancy and effect, could only be explained by their reference to that Saviour, that promised seed, whom they mystically represented and prefigured. It set forth in the most striking colours the extent, the magnitude, the turpitude and guilt of sin; and it taught, in the clearest manner, the momentous truth, that guilt could only be done away by some vicarious atonement offered up as a propitiation for sin. To every lighter trespass, as well as to more aggravated offences, it applied this leading principle; affording a perpetual commentary on those awful truths, that “God is of purer eyes than “ to behold iniquity,” and that “all have sin“ ned and come short of the glory of Godk.” To every contemplative mind there was thus afforded a most affecting picture of the misery of man, unless effectual means were provided of reconciliation with God.
h Gal. iii. 24.
was our k Rom. iij. 23. m Col. ï. 17.
The expressions used by St. Paul in characterizing this part of the Mosiac Law are very remarkable.
He calls it “ the handwriting of ordinances which was against us, “ which was contrary to us,” and which our Lord “ blotted out,” and “took it away, nail
ing it to his cross!” He calls it also “ a “ shadow of things to come, of which the
body is Christ"." By the former expressions were signified the malignity of sin and its condemnation ; by the latter, the means of removing that condemnation. Thus did
i Habak. i. 13.
1 Col. ii. 14.
the consolations of the Law, on the one hand, mitigate its terrors on the other; while both served to point the attention of the faithful worshipper to that ulterior dispensation of grace and mercy, in which all these ordinances were to receive their final consummation. And hence we may further understand why the Law is sometimes spoken of as a “ curse," and a “ministry of condemnation,” to those who lived under it; and at other times is highly magnified as a token of God's mercy and favour to his chosen people. Both representations are strictly just. The Law was a dispensation of judgment and of mercy; of judgment for the condemnation of transgression; of mercy, for the removal of its penalties. It denounced the wrath of God against sin. In its sacrifices, as the Apostle observes, there was “a remembrance again of sins
every year";” and it could“ never make the “ comers thereunto perfecto” by virtue of its own efficacy. Nevertheless, it exhibited the symbols and the seals of that pardon and that sanctification, on which the faithful were to rely as pledges of the redemption to be wrought for them by the promised seed. These purposes it is necessary to keep in view, as inseparably connected, in forming n Heb. x. 3.
o Heb. x. 1.
our judgment of this wonderful institution. When thus viewed, we immediately perceive the full force of St. Paul's representation of the hope and consolation enjoyed by those who lived under it; who, as he affirms, “ all “ died in faith, not having received the pro“ mises, but having seen them afar off, and “ were persuaded of them, and embraced 6 them P.
When, therefore, we find the same Apostle speaking of the ordinances of the Law as “weak and beggarly elements?,” and declaring it to be “ annulled,” “ for the weakness and
unprofitableness thereof",” we must understand the observations as addressed to those only who insisted upon its inherent efficacy and perfection, without reference to Christ; or who deemed the observance of it necessary to salvation, even after its purpose had by Him been accomplished. But the Apostle is far from depreciating any of its ordinances, when viewed in connection with the Gospel He speaks of circumcision as “the seal of the “ righteousness of faith.” He represents the passover to have been a symbol of redemption through the blood of Christ. He raises the dignity of the Levitical sacrifices, by asserting
p Heb. xi. 13. 9 Gal. iv. 9. 1 Heb. vii. 18. s Rom. iv. 11.
them to have been figurative of our Lord's expiatory sacrifice upon the cross. He exalts its priesthood, by shewing its analogy to our great High Priest and Mediator, “who ever
liveth to make intercession for us .” In some even minute particulars, he dwells
upon the correspondence of type and anti-type in the two dispensations, setting before us the whole ceremonial Law in its most interesting point of view, as designed to adumbrate the blessings of the Gospel, and to prepare the disciple of Moses for that greater “ Prophet 66 who should come into the world.”
Many of the foregoing observations will be found applicable, in some measure, to the роlitical or forensic part of the Law of Moses, so far as that is separable from its moral or ceremonial injunctions. The civil polity of the Hebrews extends to every department of social life. It defines rights, privileges, customs, manners. It regulates marriage contracts, parental and filial duties, the relation of masters and servants, ordinary transactions between man and man, the administration of public justice, the rules of civil order and decorum, every thing requisite to preserve the general fabric of society from injury or molestation. It tended also to infuse into the
1 Heb. vii. 25.