Page images
PDF
EPUB

criticism could be more vulnerable. Especially in the Psalms and the later prophecies is the hope of eternal life developed; and not only developed, but the doctrine supporting it is defined.

4. “The law given from God by Moses as touching ceremonies and rites doth not bind Christians, nor ought the civil precepts thereof of necessity be received in any commonwealth.” The New Testament plainly abrogates the ceremonies of the Old Testament. The civil precepts of the Pentateuch were given to the Jews as a people. Many of them would do well in the political constitutions of modern States, but they are not of necessity to be received except it may be in their spirit. The idea of a theocracy belongs to the religious infancy of the world. With a revelation, both in the Word and in the race, men must work out their own ends of law, of government, of industry, and of moral and social restraint. It is the only way in which the world can become perfected.

5. "The commandments which are called moral." These are specifically the Ten Commandments and any others which are subsidiary to them as moral precepts. The Church accepts the Ten Commandments as the final word on moral obligation. Each commandment is equal to the other; none is greater than the others. Each one is an absolute command, embodying an absolute obligation. The table is the transcript of the divine mind, the perfect will of God. To the Decalogue every man is directly and personally amenable. The Church has written no more certain tenet for itself than this. The ceremonial law was fulfilled in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The law of commandments was also perfectly kept by him not that the commandments might pass away, but that those who are enlightened of his grace might see the way to keep them in spirit and in truth.

GENERAL EXPOSITION.

III. SIN AND FREE WILL.

Sin is a violation of the order of public law that is upheld by God's authority, a violation of the law that is correlate with the eternal being of God himself.—Ritschl.

If we all received an unspeakable injury by being seminally in Adam when he fell, according to the first covenant, we all received also an unspeakable blessing by being in his loins when God spiritually raised him up and put him on gospel ground.John Fletcher.

Such is man apart from the gospel of Christ as depicted in the New Testament: every one guilty of personal transgression, and in consequence of it in present bondage to the hostile power of sin, is under the anger of God and in a state of ruin from which no human hand can rescue.-Joseph Agar Beet.

CHAPTER IX.

GENERAL EXPOSITION (CONTINUED).

III. SIN AND FREE WILL.

The Articles of Religion from Seven to Twelve, inclusive, are homogeneous. They deal with the profound doctrines of sin, the freedom of the will, faith, and the quality of human actions. Though so brief in form, they constitute a coherent statement of the most important matters of theology on its manward side. Our early creed critics call these “the special doctrines of the Christian religion," as they call those on the Godhead and the Messiahship of Christ "the first principles of Christianity." Those on the Holy Scriptures they denominate the doctrines of "the rule of life and faith ;” and this, it must be seen, is a very helpful division.

The doctrines of this division are what have been technically described as anthropological—that is, relating to man. They are to be subdivided into the doctrines of nature and the doctrines of grace. The first two, VII. and VIII., describe man in a state of nature, before he has "tasted of the good word of God and the powers of the world to come.” The remaining four refer to him in a state of grace after he has been "justified by faith" and made a child of God by adoption. The present chapter will be given

« PreviousContinue »