The foundation of the Sabbatarian error, I believe, is the idea that "the
law," in all the strictness of the old letter, is binding on Christians. Hence, their
constant theme is the law, law, law. They preach it ten times as much as they preach
Christ. Unfortunately, a false theory of the law taught by some other churches has led
them into this sad error. For twenty-eight years I was held in that "bondage."
Now that I have found my way out, if I can help others, I shall rejoice.
The following simple facts with regard to the law helped me out of Adventism and I have
never known anyone to get out of it any other way. I believe it to be the correct answer
to the Saturday Sabbath error. I write for candid readers. They will examine my arguments
fairly and allow others to do the same, even if they should not agree fully with every
position. As a result of the present agitation of the Sabbath question, we ought to expect
a better understanding of the whole subject than heretofore. Forty years of investigation
and discussion of the question have firmly settled me on the following propositions. They
are in harmony with the best men and theologians of this and past ages; hence nothing
original on my part.
Antinomians, from ANTI, against and NOMOS, law, against law, is a term applied to those
who maintain that Christians are under no obligation to keep the law of God or to do any
good works. If they commit any kind of sin it will not hinder their salvation at all if
they only believe in Jesus. Salvation is wholly of faith without any regard to a man's
deeds. See any cyclopedia. This is an abominable doctrine, subversive of the gospel; yet
Seventh-Day Adventists brand all as Antinomians who do not agree with them as to what is
the law of God. I am as much opposed to Antinomianism as they. I believe in strict
obedience to law, in keeping the commandments of God, and in the necessity of good works,
as strongly as they do. Luther vehemently opposed Antinomianism and yet taught the
abolition of the Mosaic law. It is unfair and unjust for Adventists to call people
Antinomians who abhor that doctrine. We plead for a pure life, good works and obedience to
God, as necessary to salvation. Hence it is a falsehood and a slander to represent us as
Antinomians. Men who are conscious of being in the right can afford to state the position
of their opponents fairly. Bunyan, Judson, and a host of such men have repudiated the
Sabbatarian idea of the law, and yet have been holy men. I am not afraid to stand with
Even Elder Waggoner says: "As to whether the Saviour abolished the ten
commandments and with them the Sabbath, is a theological question; it is only a matter of
Scripture interpretation." Replies to Elder Canright, page 164. Very well; then men
may differ on this question and still be honest Christians. I will now lay down a few
propositions concerning the law, which seem to me so plain and well supported by the
Bible, that all must agree with them.
PROPOSITION 1. "THE LAW" EMBRACES THE WHOLE MOSAIC LAW, MORAL,
CIVIL AND CEREMONIAL. The term, "the law," when used with the definite
article and without qualifying words, refers "in nine cases out of ten, to the Mosaic
law, or to the Pentateuch." Smith's Bible Dictionary, article Law. Largely the
Adventists use the term, "the law," for the ten commandments only. They hang up
a chart of the decalogue and constantly point to it as "the law, Matt. 5:17;
"the law of the Lord," Ps. 19:7; "the law of God," Rom. 7:22. This is
their fundamental error on the law. I affirm that "the law" included the whole
system of law given to the Jews at Sinai, embracing all those requirements, whether moral,
civil or ceremonial, decalogue and all. Look at the term "law," in a
concordance, or in any Bible lexicon, dictionary or cyclopedia. "The law"
commonly included the whole of the five books of Moses. Even Elder Butler is compelled to
make this confession: "The term, "the law,' among the Jews generally included
the five books of Moses, thus including the whole system, moral, ritual, typical and
civil." Law in Galatians, page 70. That is the truth exactly. Dr. John Kitto, in his
Cyclopedia of Religious Literature, article Law, says: "If, however, the word law
alone is used it is almost invariably equivalent to the law of Moses." "The law
is especially embodied in the last four books of the Pentateuch."
Now bear in mind this one simple fact, wherever you find the term "the law,"
and you will have no trouble with Sabbatarian arguments on "the law."
Take a few examples of the use of the term "the law." 1 Cor. 14:34. Women
"are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law." Where does the law
say this? Gen. 3:16. So Genesis is in the law. Again: "The law had said, Thou shalt
not covet." Rom. 7:7. Where? Ex. 20:17. So Exodus is in the law. Once more:
"Master, which is the great commandment in the law?" Matt. 22:36. Jesus then
makes two quotations from the law; first, "Thou shalt love the Lord with all thy
heart." This is taken from Deut. 6:5. So Deuteronomy is in the law. Second,
"Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." This is from Lev, 19:18. So Leviticus
is a part of the law. And this: have ye not read in the law, how that on the Sabbath days
the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath, and are blameless?" Matt. 12:5. It is
from Num. 28:9. These then, embrace all the five books of Moses as "the law."
Observe a little where the law is spoken of and you will soon see that it refers
indiscriminately to each and all of the books of Moses as "the law." Of course
any verse in any of these books is quoted as "the law," because it is a part of
the law. So then the ten commandments are quoted as the law because they are a part of the
Again, "the law" embraces all parts of the law, moral, civil or ceremonial.
Thus the ceremonial precepts: "The parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him
after the custom of the law." Luke 2:27. That is, to offer a sacrifice. Verse 24.
Moral precepts: "The law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and
disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers."
1 Tim. 1:9. This is the decalogue. Civil precepts: "Commandest me to be smitten
contrary to the law?" Acts 23:3. Notice that every time it is simply the law.
"Gamaliel, a doctor of the law." Acts 5:34. Of what law? Was he simply a doctor
of some part of the law, as the moral, or civil, or ceremonial precepts? Every intelligent
man knows that "the law," of which he was doctor or teacher, was the whole
Pentateuch, decalogue included. The law, then, is the whole Jewish law, in all its part.
This one point, clearly settled, destroys nine-tenths of all the Seventh-Day Adventist
argument for the Jewish Sabbath.
The Two Laws
PROPOSITION 2. THERE WAS NO SUCH THING AS TWO SEPARATE LAWS GIVEN TO THE
JEWS. To sustain their doctrine Sabbatarians have invented a theory of two laws
given at Sinai; one the moral law, the other the ceremonial.
Adventists attach the utmost importance to their theory of two laws as well they may;
for if this is wrong their cause is lost. Elder U. Smith says: "No question,
therefore, more vital to the interest of Sabbath-keepers can be proposed." Synopsis
of Present Truth, page 258. But that they are wrong on this vital question is very easily
1. "Moral law," "ceremonial law." Adventists use these two terms as
freely as though the Bible was full of them; yet, strange to say, the scriptures make no
such distinctions, never speak of one law as "moral" and of another as
"ceremonial." Adventists severely criticise those who happen to use an
unscriptural word or phrase; yet they themselves do the very thing commonly, as in this
case. It would be amusing to hear one of them try to preach on the "two laws"
and confine himself to Bible language! He could not possibly do it. If there were two
distinct laws given to Israel, so opposite in their nature, it is strange that there is no
record of it, no reference to it in the Bible. If one was abolished and the other was not,
strange that Paul should not make the distinction when he has so much to say about the
law. Why did he not say, "we establish the moral law"? or, "the ceremonial
law was our schoolmaster"? No, he just says "the law" and leaves it there.
He seems not to have been quite as clear on that point as Adventists are! On this point
Kitto's Cyclopedia of Biblical Literature, Article Law, says: "Neither Christ nor the
apostles ever distinguished between the moral, the ceremonial, and the civil law, when
they speak of its establishment or its abolition."
2. The two laws contrasted. Adventists have drawn up a long list of things which they
claim are true of the "moral" law and an opposite list which can apply only to
the "ceremonial" law. These two they contrast and make out two laws. Thus Elder
Smith: "Moral law: "Was spoken from Sinai by the voice of God and twice written
upon tables of stone by his own finger." "Was deposited in the golden ark."
"Related only to moral duties." Synopsis of Present Truth, page 266. Of course
this was just the ten commandments, nothing more, nothing less. So here we have their
"moral law." Now here is the other one: "The ceremonial law: "Was
communicated to Moses privately and was by Moses written with a pen in a book. Deut.
31:9." "Was put into a receptacle by the side of the ark. Deut. 31:26."
"Was wholly ceremonial." Same page.
Hence everything not found in the decalogue belongs to the ceremonial law and
everything Moses himself wrote in the book of the law placed in the side of the ark is
"wholly ceremonial." Deut. 31:26, reads: "Take this book of the law and put
it in the side of the ark." The decalogue was in the ark, the book of the law was by
the side of the ark. We enquire, then, how much "the book of the law" contained.
The answer is easy: it contained all the five books of Moses, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus,
Numbers, and Deuteronomy. Thus 2 Kings 14:6, says it "is written in the book of the
law of Moses," and then quotes Deut. 24:16, as that book of the law. 2 Chron. 35:12',
says: "It is written in the book of Moses," and refers to Lev. 3:3. Ezra 6:18,
says: "It is written in the book of Moses," and refers to Num. 3:6. Joshua 8:31
quotes Ex. 20:25, as that which "is written in the book of the law." 1 Cor.
14:34 refers to Gen. 3:16, as "the law." Dr. Scott on Deut. 31:26, says
"This (book) appears to have been a correct and authentic copy of the five books of
So what they call the ceremonial law contains scores of precepts as purely moral as any
in the decalogue. Read these: "Thou shalt not vex a stranger." "Ye shall
not afflict any widow or fatherless child." Ex. 22:21, 22. "Thou shalt not
follow a multitude to do evil." Ex. 23:2. "Ye shall be holy." "Thou
shalt not go up and down as a tale bearer among thy people." "Thou shalt not
avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy
neighbor as thyself." Lev. 19:2, 16, 18. Thou shalt not respect persons."
"Thou shalt be perfect." Deut. 16:19, 18, 13. Are these precepts, and scores
like them, to be classed as ceremonial because God did not write them on a stone but gave
them to Moses to write in a book? Surely not. Then the nature of a precept was not
determined by the way it was given. God gave them all at different times as it pleased
As we have seen, "the law" embraces the "whole law." Gal. 5:3. Of
course, in that law, some precepts refer to moral duties, other to civil, and others to
ceremonial but all are only different parts of the same law, called, as a whole, "the
law." Thus Jesus quotes from Lev. 19, as "the law." See Matt. 22:36-40. Now
read the whole chapter, Lev. 19, and you find moral, civil and ceremonial precepts all
mingled together, and often in the same verse. Adventists, to sustain their theory, have
to go through this chapter, as they do through the whole Bible, and cut and carve, and
split hairs, and label one sentence "the moral law," another "the
ceremonial law," etc. This is what is properly termed "the scrapping
system." It does great violence to the Scriptures, wresting them out of their evident
In no place can they find their ceremonial law given by itself. They have to pick it
out here and there in scraps. The "book of the law," which was placed in the
side of the ark, Deut. 31:24-26, is pointed to as the ceremonial law. But this "book
of the law," as we see, embraced the whole five books of Moses.
It contains all of the ten commandments word for word twice repeated. Ex. 20 and Deut.
5. Elder G.I. Butler himself makes this confession: "The "book of the law,'
which was placed in the side of the ark, or at the side of it, contained both the moral
and ceremonial laws." Law in Galatians, p. 39. That drops the bottom out of the
theory that the moral law was "in the ark, and the ceremonial law in the side of the
ark," as they usually claim. So, on close examination, every text on which they rely
for two laws will fail them. That the "book of the law" did contain moral
precepts is settled by Gal. 3:10. "It is written, cursed is every one that continueth
not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them." Where in the
book of the law is this written? In Deut. 27:26. Turning there we have a curse against
images, verse 15, disobedience to parents, verse 16, adultery, verse 20; murder, verse 24;
bribery, verse 25; then comes the verse quoted as "the book of the law." So if
the decalogue contains moral law, then the book did too. This shows the utter fallacy of
their theory of two laws.
The following passage alone overturns the two law theory of Adventists: "Master,
which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, 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.
1. These two great commandments were "in the law." 2. But neither of them is
found in the decalogue. 3. Both of them are in what Adventists call the ceremonial law. 4.
Neither of them was spoken by God, nor written by him, nor engraved on stones, nor put
into the ark. Both were given by God to Moses privately and he wrote them with a pen in
the book of the law which was placed in the side of the ark. And yet these two precepts
are the greatest of all. Jesus said of the first one that it is "the first of all the
commandments." Of the two he said, "There is none other commandments greater
than these." Mark 12:29, 41. And on these two hang all the law. So, then, the
greatest commandments are in the book of the law, not on the tables of stone. How utterly
this demolishes their two law argument. It shows that the mere fact that the ten
commandments were spoken by God, written on stone, and placed in the ark, is no proof that
they were superior to those given through Moses in the book of the law.
We will examine a few more of their contrasts of the two laws as they arrange them.
Thus: "1. Moral: Existed in Eden before the fall. Ceremonial: Was given after the
fall. 2. Moral: Was perfect. Ps. 19:7. Ceremonial: Made nothing perfect. Heb. 7:19. 3.
Moral: Contains the whole duty of Man. Eccl. 12:13. Ceremonial: "Stood only in meats
and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances.' Heb. 9:10."
1. Where do they read that the decalogue was given in Eden? Nowhere. This they assume
not only without proof, but against the plain record of Ex. 19 and 20 that it was given at
Sinai. So their very first comparison is a failure.
2. The law is perfect, Ps. 19:7, and again, the law made nothing perfect. Heb. 7:19.
This they regard as one of their clearest proofs of the two laws. But where is the proof?
Does it follow that if the law is perfect it will or can make sinners perfect? If it
could, then, as Paul says, righteousness should be by the law," Gal. 3:21, and
"then Christ is dead in vain." Gal. 2:21. The law could be perfect and yet fail
to make anybody perfect. So there is no proof of two laws here after all.
3. Eccl. 12:13 is quoted as referring to the ten commandments alone and then it is
asserted that these contain every duty of man. Both statements are fallacious. There are
scores of duties we owe to God and men not even hinted at in the decalogue. Then there is
not a particle of evidence that Eccl. 12:13 refers alone to the decalogue. It manifestly
embraces all God's commandments on all subjects. Look at the second quotation, Heb. 9:10.
It does not refer to any law whatever but is speaking of the services of the priests in
the temple, which service "stood only in meats, drinks," etc. Read it. Thus
their "two laws" are made out: 1. By pure assumptions. 2. By misapplications of
scripture. 3. By detached phrases here and there taken out of their proper connection. So
I could go through their whole list and show that it proves no such contrast as they
But they assert that such opposite things are said of "the law," that it
cannot be the same law all the time. This method of proving two laws by contrasting
particular expressions about the law when spoken of from different standpoints would make
bad work with the Bible if urged on other subjects. Paul said he was "a Jew,"
Acts 21:39, and again that he was "a Roman," Acts 22:25; two Pauls. So Christ is
"a Lion" and "a Lamb," Rev. 5:5, 6. "The everlasting
Father," Isa. 9:6. And born of a woman, Luke 2:7; Prince of Life, Acts 3:15, yet died
through weakness, 2 Cor. 13:4; a child, Isa. 9:6; and yet God, Heb. 1:1-8; two Christs. It
would be much harder to reconcile the apparently opposite things said of Christ, than it
would be the different things said about the law. There were different sides to Christ's
nature, yet he was but one person. So there were different sides to the law, but it was
only one law for all that. Viewed in the light of its ultimate design, viz.: to prepare
the way for Christ, Rom. 10:4; Gal. 3:23-25, in its spirit, Rom. 7:6; in its
righteousness, Rom. 8:3, 4; it was "holy and just and good," Rom. 7:12. But
viewed from the side of its mere letter, Rom. 2:29; 7:6; 2 Cor. 3:6, 7; its numerous
rites, ceremonies, penalties and rigorous exactions, it was "the ministration of
death," 2 Cor. 3:7; and a "yoke of bondage," Gal. 5:1-3; Acts 15:1-10. This
is the true explanation of their "two laws." Further, it is not true that there
was nothing ceremonial in the decalogue. The weekly Sabbath was the chief ceremonial of
all the Jewish worship. See this proved in the first part of chapter nine. Also see
chapter eighteen on the decalogue. In Chapter XXI I have examined every text they use on
the two laws.
PROPOSITION 3. THE TEN COMMANDMENTS ALONE ARE NEVER, CALLED "THE
LAW OF THE LORD" NOR THE "LAW OF GOD." Sabbatarians constantly use
these two terms, applying them to the decalogue alone. With them "the law of
God" and "the law of the Lord" is just the decalogue and nothing more. They
are the only ones who keep God's law, as all others break the Sabbath, the seventh day.
But now notice this fact which I know to be the truth, after a most thorough examination.
The word law occurs in the Bible over 400 times, yet in not one single instance is the
decalogue as a whole and alone called "the law." It is never in a single
instance called "the law of the Lord," or "the law of God." Of course
the ten commandments are a part of the law of God, but only a part, not the whole. Examine
a few texts: Luke 2:22. "The days of her purification according to the law of
Moses;" verse 23, "It is written in the law of the Lord, every male that openeth
the womb;" verse 24, It is "said in the law of the Lord, a pair of turtle
doves;" verse 27, "To do for him after the custom of the law." Here
"the law," "the law of the Lord," and "the law of Moses,"
all mean the same thing, viz: the law touching the birth of a son. Again, sacrifices,
offerings, Sabbaths, new moons and feasts are all required "in the law of the
Lord." Thus: "He appointed also the king's portion of his substance for the
burnt offerings, to-wit, for the morning and evening burnt offerings, and the burnt
offerings for the Sabbaths, and for the new moons and for the set feasts, as it is written
in the law of the Lord." 2 Chron. 31:3. Scores of texts like these could be quoted,
showing that "the law of the Lord" includes sacrifices, circumcision, feast days
and all the Jewish law. So "the law of God" is not simply the decalogue, but the
whole law of Moses. Read Neh. 8:1, 2, 3, 7, 8, 14, 18. "The book of the law of
Moses," "the law," "the book of the law," "they read in the
book of the law of God," "the law which the Lord commanded by Moses,"
"the book of the law of God." The law of God, then, includes the whole law of
No Sabbatarian, therefore, keeps "the law," "the law of God," or
"the law of the Lord," for if he did he would offer sacrifices, be circumcised,
and live exactly as the Jews did. So all their talk about "keeping the law"
amounts to nothing, for none of them do it. Moreover in their attempt to keep a part of
that law they thereby bring themselves under obligation to "keep the whole law,"
as Paul argues in Gal. 5:3. But as none of them keep the whole law, they bring upon
themselves the curse of the law, by constantly violating one part while attempting to keep
another. This is the very point which Paul made against Judaizing legalists of his day.
"For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: For it is written,
cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the
law to them." Gal. 3:10. That is, the person who keeps one precept of the law just
because the law says so, thereby acknowledges that the law is binding on him. Then if he
neglects some other part of the law, he thereby becomes a transgressor of the very law he
professes to keep. This is exactly what Sabbatarians do. They keep the Sabbath because the
law says so and thereby become "debtors to do the whole law." Gal. 5:3. Then
they neglect many things in the same law and so are under the condemnation of the law.
Gal. 3:10. But Christians do this or that, not because the law says so, but because so
says the New Testament.
PROPOSITION 4. "THE LAW" WAS GIVEN BY MOSES AND THE "LAW
OF MOSES" INCLUDES THE DECALOGUE. Not that Moses was the author of it, but
it was through him God gave it to Israel. This is stated so distinctly and so many times
that it is useless to deny it. Thus: "For the law was given by Moses," John
1:17. "Did not Moses give you the law?" John 7:19. "The law which the Lord
had commanded by Moses," Neh. 8:14. "God's law which was given by Moses,"
Neh. 10:29. This includes the decalogue. "Moses said, Honor thy father and thy
mother," Mark 7:10. This is the fifth commandment. Again: "Did not Moses give
you the law and yet none of you keepeth the law? Why go ye about to kill me?" John
7:17. The law against killing is here called the law of Moses.
In Heb. 10:28, it is said that "he that despised Moses' law died without mercy
under two or three witnesses." Persons were put to death for violating the decalogue.
See Deut. 17:6. They were put to death for breaking the Sabbath, Ex. 31:14, blasphemy,
theft, and the like. Hence the decalogue is included in the "law of Moses." But
in verse 24 they said ye must "keep the law." So in one verse it is "the
law of Moses" and in another verse it is simply "the law": Hence there is
no difference between "the law" and "the law of Moses."
In Josh. 8:30, 31, we read: "Then Joshua built an altar unto the Lord God of
Israel in mount Ebal, as Moses the servant of the Lord commanded the children of Israel,
as it is written in the book of the law of Moses, an altar of whole stones, over which no
man hath lift up any iron." It says that this about the altar was written in the
"book of the law of Moses." Now turn to Ex. 20:25, the very chapter where the
decalogue is found, and there you have the text referred to. "And if thou wilt make
me an altar of stone, thou shalt not build it of hewn stone; for if thou lift up thy tool
upon it, thou has polluted it." This proves beyond denial that the ten commandments
are in the law of Moses.
PROPOSITION 5. "THE LAW" WAS NOT GIVEN TILL THE TIME OF MOSES
AND SINAI. The texts above quoted prove this. Thus: "The law was given by
Moses." John 1:17. "Did not Moses give you the law?" John 7:19. "For
until the law sin was in the world; but sin is not imputed when there is no law.
Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses." Rom. 5:13-14. The entrance of the law
is here located at Moses. Again it is located under the Levitical priesthood. "If
therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, for under it the people received
the law." Heb. 7:11. So the giving of the law is located "430 years after the
covenant with Abraham." "And this I say, that the covenant that was confirmed
before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot
disannul." Gal. 3:17. This brings us to the very year the Jews came out of Egypt and
arrived at Sinai. "And it came to pass at the end of 430 years, even the self-same
day it came to pass, that all of the hosts of the Lord went out from the land of
Egypt." Ex. 12:41. Beyond dispute, then, what the Bible calls "the law" was
not given till Moses, 2,500 years after Adam, or nearly half the history of the world.
PROPOSITION 6. THE LAW IS NO WHERE FOUND TILL MOSES. No copy of
the law nor any reference to it can be found till Moses. Of course God's great moral and
spiritual law, condemning every sin and requiring every righteous act - that existed from
Adam, nay, from eternity. But what in all the Jewish Scriptures is known as "the
law," as drawn out in a code on Sinai, whether in a book or on the tables of stone,
this certainly did not exist till Moses. The whole dispute between Paul and the Judaizers
of his day was over this law. See Romans, Galatians and Acts 15 and 21. The question was
whether "the law," that which was written in "the book of the law,"
Gal. 3:10, and "engraved in stones," 2 Cor. 3:7, was to be kept under the
gospel. Paul said, No; they said, Yes. Sabbatarians now stick for the law of Sinai as did
the Judaizers of old. To say that the principles of the law existed before Sinai, does not
prove that the law existed. These principles could have been taught to Adam and his
descendants in a different form from the law as afterwards given at Sinai. But where do
you find the law or even one of the ten commandments, as worded on Sinai, before that
The various principles and precepts, moral, ceremonial, and typical, which had
previously been taught in different ways, were now gathered into one code and worded so as
to adapt them, for the time being, to the circumstances of the Jewish nation. As thus
worded, certainly this law had never been given before.
PROPOSITION 7. THEIR FATHERS DID NOT HAVE THE DECALOGUE AS WORDED ON THE
TABLES. This Moses directly states. Deut. 4:12, 13, says God spoke to them from
heaven, and declared to them "his covenant," "even ten commandments,"
Chap. 5:2, 3, says: "The Lord our God made a covenant with us in Horeb. The Lord made
not this covenant with our fathers, but with us." Then he repeats the ten
commandments as spoken from heaven. Verses 4-22; That the main principles and requirements
of this code were taught to the fathers in some way no one can doubt; but that the fathers
had the law as worded and arranged at Sinai is directly denied by Moses, as above.
PROPOSITION 8. THE LAW WAS GIVEN ONLY TO THE JEWS. This is so
manifest in every item of the law, that it needs no argument to prove it. Moses says,
Deut. 4:8, that no nation has a law so good "as all this law which I set before you
this day." Then he names the ten commandments as a part of it. Verses 10-13.
"This is the law which Moses set before the children of Israel." Verse 44.
Before whom? Israel, not the Gentiles. So again, Chap. 5:1. "Hear, O Israel, the
statutes and judgments which I speak in your ears." Then follows the decalogue. So it
is a hundred times over all through the law. It is addressed to the Jews and to them only.
The very wording of the law shows it was designed for them only. The decalogue is
introduced thus: "I am the Lord thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt,
out of the house of bondage." Ex. 20:2. To whom is that applicable? Only to the
Jewish nation. Neither angels, Adam, nor Gentile Christians were ever in Egyptian bondage.
Then this law is not addressed to them. To whom was the law given. Let Paul answer.
"Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the
covenants, and the giving of the law." Rom. 9:4. It was given to Israel.
"Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all
Israel, with the statutes and judgments." Malachi 4:4. The law was "for all
Israel," and them only.
All these things show that this was a national law worded to fit the condition of the
Jews at the time.
PROPOSITION 9. THE GENTILES DID NOT HAVE THE LAW. This has been
proved already; but Paul directly says so. Rom. 2:14. "For when the Gentiles, which
have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these having not the law,
are a law unto themselves." This is too plain to need arguing. The Gentiles did not
have the law. Paul says so directly and that ought to settle it, and does. To understand
and obey the great moral principles of that law is one thing, to be under the letter, the
exact wording of the law as given in detail on Sinai, is quite another, as we will see
PROPOSITION 10. THE REWARDS AND PENALTIES OF THE LAW WERE ALL TEMPORAL.
There are no promises of future rewards, nor threatenings of future punishments in all the
Mosaic law. The learned Bishop Warburton has fully demonstrate this in his "Divine
Legation of Moses." Every careful student of that law must be aware of this feature
of it. The reason is evident: it was a national, temporal law, given for a national,
temporal purpose. As a sample of all, see Deut. 28:1-19. If they keep the law, they shall
be blessed in children, in goods, in cattle, in health, etc. If they disobey, they shall
be cursed in all these. Stoning to death was the penalty for theft, murder, etc. Hence
that was the "ministration of death written and engraved in stones," 2 Cor. 3:7,
and "is done away," verse 11.
Paul states that the promise of Christ and the future inheritance was made to Abraham
four hundred and thirty years before the law was given. From this he argues, and forcibly,
too, that the keeping of that law was not necessary in order to obtain Christ and the
inheritance. Verses 16-18. "Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He
saith not, and to seeds, as of many; but as of one, and to thy seed, which is Christ. And
this I say, that the covenant that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which
was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise
of none effect. For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God
gave it to Abraham by promise." So to the Romans he wrote: "For the promise,
that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the
law, but through the righteousness of faith. For if they which are of the law be heirs,
faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect." Rom. 4:13,14.
This plainly teaches that the law was not given with reference to the future
inheritance. Certainly Abraham did not keep a law which was not given till hundreds of
years after he died. But Abraham is the father of all the faithful, and not simply of
those who were "of the law." Rom. 4:13-16. This point alone ought to open the
eyes of those who contend so earnestly for the keeping of that law as necessary to
salvation. We are the children of Abraham, Gal. 3:29, and "walk in the steps of our
father Abraham," who was never under the law. Rom. 4:12-16. We are under the covenant
of promise made to Abraham 430 years before the law, Gal. 2:15-19, and not under the
covenant of law from Sinai, which is bondage. Gal. 4:21-26.
PROPOSITION 11. GOD'S ETERNAL LAW OF RIGHTEOUSNESS EXISTED BEFORE THE
LAW OF SINAI WAS GIVEN. This proposition is self-evident. Surely God had a law by
which to govern his creatures, both angels and men, long before Sinai. But "the
law," as worded in the decalogue and in "the book of the law," was not
given till Moses, 2,500 years after creation. Hence moral obligation did not begin with
that law, nor would it cease if that law was abolished. "All unrighteousness is
sin." 1 John 5:17. And "sin is the transgression of the law." Chap. 3:4.
This text is used by Sabbatarians to prove that every possible sin is always a violation
of the ten commandments. But, 1. "The law" is the whole Mosaic law, not merely
the decalogue. 2. A correct translation entirely spoils this text for them. The word law
is not in the text in the original. The revised version gives it correctly. "Sin is
lawlessness." This is the true meaning of the text. Sin is lawlessness, a disregard
for some law, but not necessarily always the same law. Thus: "The angels
sinned." 2 Pet. 2:4. But they did not violate the law of Sinai, for it was not given
till thousands of years after they fell, and they were not under that law any way.
Adam "sinned" long before that law was given. So Paul says, Rom. 5:12-14.
Cain sinned, Gen. 4:7. The Sodomites were "sinners," Gen. 13:13, and vexed Lot
with their "unlawful deeds," 2 Pet. 2:8. Surely none of these violated "the
law," which was not given till Moses, hundreds of years afterwards. To say that they
must have violated the principles of that law is not to the point. When the Jews killed
Stephen, Acts 7:59, they violated the principles of the law of Michigan, which forbids
murder; but did they violate the "law of Michigan"? No; for it was not given for
1800 years after. And they were not under it any way. So neither the angels, nor Adam, nor
the Sodomites could have transgressed the law of Sinai, for it was not yet given. So
Abraham kept God's laws, Gen. 26:5, but surely not "the law which was four hundred
and thirty years after," Gal. 3:17. All this clearly shows that God had a law before
the code of Sinai was given.
Jesus, under the gospel 1500 years later, in naming the commandments, gives them
neither in the same words nor in the same order as found in the decalogue. Further, he
mingles with them some precepts from the book of the law as of equal importance with the
ten commandments. Thus: Do not commit adultery, do not kill, do not steal, do not bear
false witness, defraud not, honor thy father and mother. Mark 10:19. This shows that the
mere form and order of the commandments is of no consequence as long as the idea is given.
So the two editions of the decalogue in Ex. 20 and Deut. 5 vary much in the wording; yet
one is as good as the other. This shows that the exact wording is not essential.
In whatever form or manner God chose to communicate his will to men, this would be
"his commandments, his statutes, and his laws." Gen. 26:5. Paul says: "God,
who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the
prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son." Heb. 1:1, 2. A
disregard for his revealed will would be lawlessness - sin. But to claim that God gave the
patriarchs his law in the exact form and words of the ten commandments is a proofless
assumption, contrary to reason and all the facts in the case.
PROPOSITION 12. THIS ORIGINAL LAW IS SUPERIOR TO THE LAW OF SINAI.
When asked "Which is the great commandment in the law?" Jesus said: "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. 22:37-40. Neither of these is in the decalogue; but that law hangs
on this higher law, and so is inferior to it. These principles, clad in the panoply of
eternal immutability, lay back of the Mosaic law and existed with it throughout that
dispensation as they had existed before and exist now.
In its very nature this great law of supreme love to God, and equal love to fellow
creatures, must be as eternal and everlasting as God himself. This law governs angels,
governed Adam, the patriarchs, the pious Jews, while under "the law," and
Gentile Christians now. It is applicable to all God's creatures, in all ages and all
worlds. Idolatry, murder, theft, selfishness and "all unrighteousness," 1 John
5:17, are and always were violations of this supreme law of God. This great law might be
worded in different ways at different times and yet the same essential idea be preserved.
Thus Jesus stated the second great commandment in another form. "Therefore 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." Matt. 7:12. The idea is the same as "Thou shalt love thy
neighbor as thyself." The exact words or form in which this law is stated is not
material so long as the idea is made plain. Evidently this supreme law must have been made
known to Adam and to the patriarchs but in just what form we are not told. To say that it
was in the exact words of the decalogue is to affirm what can in no wise be proved.