Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The Standing Use and Authority of the Old Testament (Part 3)

(continued from 8/21/2015)


Not only is the former part of Scripture necessary for our edification with regard to the meaning of the latter, but we also find that Christ and his apostles assert that the moral precepts of the Old Testament are the will of God abiding for ever, and enforce the keeping of them, as they are there, and there only, handed down to us in the proper form and order. Yea, the expression for the whole sum of duty, embraced in Christ's injunction, " Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect," seems to have been taken from, or at least founded upon, that passage in Leviticus 11:44, "Ye shall be holy, for I am holy;" and is repeated by Peter, "Be ye holy, for I am holy." (1 Pet. 1:16). So that not only is the attention of men directed to the tables of the law as they were delivered, and to each command as it appears there singly: "Keep the commandments," but also to all the precepts collectively - to the sum of them all in the very words of the Lawgiver himself in the Old Testament once and again repeated; and, finally, their attention is fixed, by the endearing way in which Christ crowns the Old Testament idea, "If ye love me, keep my commandments." The examples of the Old Testament saints are referred to in the New, implying the standing use of such records for our imitation. The instance of Elijah as an example in prayer (James 5:17). The long catalog of "worthies," is remarkable for their faith (Heb. 11). These and a multitude of similar references take for granted a knowledge of the Old Testament, and clearly show its abiding use to Christians in all ages. Besides, there are some particulars of faith and practice, which are learned from, and can only be fully established by the Old Testament. It contains the sublime account of creation, and subsequently narrates the fall of man. The moral obligation of the Sabbath, of baptism, and of the worship of God in the family capacity; the scriptural institution of marriage and of civil rule, and the nature and importance of federal engagements...cannot, we think, be satisfactorily established but by the Scriptures of the Old Testament. The Old seems to contain the history and prophecy of the church in all time and in eternity too. It furnishes examples of lasting influence and the germ of all doctrines, and it guides us in our devotions at the throne of grace. The New may be regarded as an enlargement on the character and sufferings of Christ, as these were witnessed by his disciples; it unfolds the manner of his life and the matter of his teaching, and declares the nature and design of the ordinances and institutions of the New Testament church. We do not say that because of these things greater importance is to be attached to the New than to the Old, but rather that on all the leading doctrines of the Christian religion, much more enlarged and accurate views are obtained by a careful collation of the whole Word of God. Christians are much indebted to many parts of the Old Testament for elevating ideas of the Deity and directions in his worship. What soul-breathings after God are contained therein, suitable to every age and every clime! ... Some are inclined to overlook certain portions of the Old Testament, and labor under the mistake, that the divine character as therein revealed is far different from that in the New . This error seems to arise from incorrect views of the law and the gospel. The thunders of Sinai and the fearful punishments threatened on offenders are the true representations of God's justice in taking vengeance on those who violate his holy law. The minister of the gospel should see the important use of the Old Testament in giving weight to his warnings, and the sinner should be driven by its threats to flee from the wrath of an angry God to the covert of the covenant. This error arises also from an idea entertained that there are not such gospel invitations and comforts contained in the Old as in the New . But though we have the moral law and its accompanying terrors, we have likewise most lively and encouraging traces of the Covenant of Grace. The sinner finds salvation in the Old as well as in the New ; and the terrors of the law as well in the New as in the Old. The "Sun of Righteousness" is equally the light of both: in the one his benign beams burst forth from amid lowering clouds; in the other the clouds may be said to have passed away, and we behold him fully revealed. Certain it is, that much in the Old should no longer be practiced under the New Testament dispensation, for we are come to a more glorious and spiritual economy; but we do not say that such parts as refer to the past economy are no longer useful. On the contrary they are in many ways indispensable - as they declare still the infinitely holy character of the Most High, the necessity of awe and reverence the most profound in approaching him, and of a strict regard to the divine glory and the welfare of the church in administering civil and ecclesiastical law; and taken in connection with the New , we find most valuable aid and direction from these laws and observances in practice obsolete. In short, they are, so to speak, the mold in which the mind of the Church of God in past and present ages was formed and fashioned. To conclude, God as he is in himself, and as he manifests himself in the display of his perfections in the works of creation, providence, and redemption, is presented in his true character in the Bible, taken as a whole. The God who is our hope, our trust, our all, is pleased to give to man this revelation of himself, and The Power of Truth as the Instrument of Union taken from first to last, the view is connected, perfect, and, we had almost said, unbounded. Isolate from the other part, either the Old or New, and a void is left which all created wisdom never can fill up. The Bible, as we have it, is precious and inestimable. It is dependent in all its parts - a golden chain suspended from the eternal throne, its links secure and inseparable. To vary the figure, it is a mine of knowledge, too deep for man, where every new discovery leads to others more valuable still, and thus we may go on from one degree of Scriptural wealth to another, until we arrive at the source and fountain of all; there to enjoy the riches of his glory.

"This book, this holy book, on ev'ry line
Marked with the seal of high divinity,
On every leaf bedewed with drops of love
Divine, and with the eternal heraldry

No comments:

Post a Comment

Visitor Counter

Flag Counter