The Sabbath: Or, Is The Law Dead, Or Am I?

The rest of God seems to me a question of paramount importance. A part in it distinguishes the saint both from the wicked and from the unintelligent creation. Entrance into God’s rest is perhaps the highest form in which we can conceive blessing; for the rest of God is not mere relief from labour, as it is with man, but peaceful complacency in what is perfect and good. It is cessation from work, if not from weariness—cessation even from holy labour. But it is more; it is enjoyment in the completeness of that as to which we have laboured, and in the proper perfect-ness of that in which we are—for us, in God Himself. The nature of God rests in that which is perfectly good. “The promise is left us of entering into his rest;” not merely into rest, though rest it will be, and blessedly so, but His rest—the perfect satisfaction God has in all brought into perfectness before Him. Holy affections have rest in what is good; as also the labourer has gladsome rest from his labour. The rest of God is the portion of God’s people. When God had created all (and behold it was very good), He rested. He ceased to create, and He was well pleased in what was created. It answered His mind. Better still the eternal rest of God in perfect good, the effect of redemption, and the work which has brought us into glory, and heaven and earth into holy order, the rest of God in Himself in love, and in the blessing of all around Him answering in its place to what He is.

I have sometimes felt on the Lord’s day the utter poverty of the creation, beautiful perhaps in itself, that had no link with God in rest, and pursued its search of food, or its instinct, one day like another, on none the expression of relationship with God. “There remaineth a rest to the people of God.” It is distinctive of them, though they have it not yet. It cannot therefore be of small importance to know on what ground, in what way, and how far they have part in it now consequently as Christians. I think we shall find how prominent a place it holds in the thoughts of God, the moment we examine the records He has given us of His ways.

But another question, as we are all aware, connects itself with it—the place the law holds in the ways of God. This connects itself, or rather identifies itself, with the question—Is the purpose, which is inseparable from the grace of God, the first thing in His ways, or the responsibility of man, that is, grace or law; in fact, the first Adam or the Second? Here the old Aristotelian adage becomes true—*ArchV th'" qewriva" tevlo" th'" pravzew". That law in principle, and ultimately the law as given in fact, identifies itself with, and is the measure of, responsibility in the first Adam, will hardly be questioned. That it is not in itself grace is evident. It requires from man, and does not give to him sovereignly or contrary to what he has deserved. Yet both are divine and true in their place. It is because the relative place of each of these is not seen that the difficulty has, I believe, been insoluble. If both be of God, both must be maintained: His authority in respect of man’s responsibility; sovereign grace abounding over all. God’s title in both must be maintained. The difficulty lies in this, that while God’s title is involved in both, in their nature they contradict one another. To require and to give are necessarily opposed to one another. If a thousand pounds be due, it is very just to require it, but it is not grace. If I pay it so as to free the debtor, when he has no claim on me, it is pure kindness and grace; only righteousness is satisfied by the payment.

But we shall find that this is not all. I affirm, then, that purpose and the Second man and eternal life in Him came before the question of responsibility in the first, but that responsibility and law came actually first in the history of man and of this world; that both meet in Christ, and in Him only the difficulty is solved —a difficulty which heathens have reasoned on as well as Christians, because it lies in the nature and state of man. When I have unfolded this from scripture, I will apply it to our question and to the rest of God.

The truth that the purpose and full promise and grace of God was before the world, and in the last Adam, the Second man, not in the first, involves this additional truth—that, whatever its collateral blessings for the world (and they are many), it is not of the world, not directly part of its history and government, though it be developed and find its place in it, and God’s secret and overruling government order all things for good to those who are faithful to Him in it. As was true of Christ, so of Christians, “Ye are not of the world, as I am not of the world.”

But I will proceed to the scripture proof of my proposition, that the purpose of grace, though revealed after, came before the responsibility of man (I do not say the predestination of persons here, but the purposes of grace); while the bringing in of the accomplishment of that purpose came after the question of responsibility was settled as to the first Adam. Thus 2 Timothy 1:9, “Who hath saved us and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works”—in which clearly our responsibility is engaged, and to which judgment is applied—“but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, but is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death”—the fruit of failure in responsibility—” and brought life and incorruptibility to light by the gospel.” Works according to which responsibility is judged of are not that according to which God has saved us; death, which failure in responsibility brought in, is abolished, rendered void. That is, the principle on which responsibility is tried, and with which judgment deals (for He will judge every man according to his works), is not that according to which we are saved. The purpose of grace goes on another principle; and, further, positive power is come in, in which Christ has risen above and annulled the effect of failure, and which has besides acted in producing its own effects. But the purpose of grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began. Nor was it brought to light till He came.

So Titus 1:1-3, “The truth which is after godliness, in hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot he, promised before the world began; but hath in due times manifested his word by preaching, which is committed unto me according to the commandment of God our Saviour.” This is very plain, only we have to remark that it is eternal life which is promised. So our election leads to the same truth. If God were to choose a part of the world now, it would be as sovereign as doing so before the world: I know in His holy wisdom He does not, but it would be as sovereign as doing it before the world. But He has chosen us in Christ before the foundation of the world; and the effect is, He has chosen us for what is not of the world, but far above the world and all consequences of our responsibility, even if we had fulfilled it; namely, to be before Him as sons, like Christ Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will. This was sovereign goodness, giving us a place according to His own counsels.

The whole of that first chapter of Ephesians (be it calling, be it inheritance, and indeed the whole of the epistle) goes on this ground. Our place with the Father, our place with Christ as His body, is not grounded on responsibility in the first Adam, but on purpose accomplished in and through the Second. Romans meets man’s responsibility and sin; Ephesians unfolds God’s purpose. Hence our part in it is by a new creation. Is the Christian then beyond responsibility? In nowise; but his responsibility is according to his new place, not according to the one he has failed in and been saved out of. I will, with the Lord’s help, touch on this before I close.

The purpose in the Last Man is before and beyond responsibility in the first.

Let us now examine the development of the two principles of gift and responsibility in the history of the first, for it is full of interest.

The two great principles stood side by side in the garden of Eden. There was the tree of life, of which, as we find afterwards, if a man ate, he would love for ever; and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, to which responsibility was attached, and a law, and judgment on failure. Life was there independent of responsibility or works, and a prohibition which involved responsibility. Neither supposed sin in man; for that which was prohibited was perfectly innocent, but that it was prohibited. I do not enter into the details of the fall. It is evident to me that departure from God in distrust of heart, introduced by Satan’s wiles, came before lust; and when the heart had departed from God, lust and disobedience came in. The blessed Saviour came to win man’s confidence back to God, sinner as man was—no doubt to do a great deal more, but to do that: God was in Christ reconciling, not imputing; and the history of this is of the most affecting grace; but I cannot enter on it here. But the first Adam had taken the path of responsibility, broken through the hedge of the law, was lost; afraid of God, when there, calling him in gracious familiarity, bringing his state home to him; convicted and excluded from God’s presence. And the world began. It was so filled with violence and corruption, that it was necessarily judged by a present judgment. On this I do not dwell.

In the new world, after it had been set on foot by the formation of nations, by the judgment of man at the tower of Babel, promises came first without condition,20 as the apostle reasons in Galatians.

The question of responsibility and righteousness was not raised at all. But still righteousness must be; and the question is raised in the law, and founded entirely on man’s responsibility; life is brought in, but made, not the fruit of gift, but of man’s satisfying his responsibility. “This do, and thou shalt live.” Life was to be had as the consequence of doing what the law required. But man was a sinner, and, if he knew himself, had only to say, “the law, which was ordained for life, I found to be unto death.”

But this responsibility of man had a further trial in the way of grace. Not only God sent His prophets to recall Israel to the paths of peace and obedience, but He of whom they had testified came. This was the activity of God’s love when man was already a sinner, when he had already broken the law, when his responsibility had had its full result without law and under law, and every mouth was stopped, and all the world guilty before God. But God was active in goodness. He sent the prophets, and at last He sent His Son, saying, “I have yet one Son: it may be they will reverence my Son.” This was voluntary goodness when sin and guilt were complete as to human responsibility. To the Jew this had even a double character: a message to them as responsible, seeking for fruit; and pure grace as such making a marriage for the King’s Son. But they refused alike the fruit and the invitation. This (although the patience of God even yet visited them in Christ’s intercession, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do,”) completed the sin of man. “Now,” said the Lord (John 12), “is the judgment of this world; now shall the prince of this world be cast out.”

Man’s history was complete—the world judged, Satan its prince; the result of responsibility fully brought out. The world was judged. It had, without law, produced intolerable sin; under law, transgression; and when, being such, it was visited in grace, it refused grace that recalled to law, and grace that invited to blessing. It had proved, not only that it naturally produced sin, and could not be subject to law, but that the mind of the flesh was enmity against God, not only as a Judge, but enmity against God when in ineffable grace He visited the world in mercy, reconciling it to Himself. For His love He had hatred, hatred without a cause. Satan they had, and could not help it; God, when He was there in the power of divine help and goodness, they would not have. Such was sin; such was man. Self-will that would always have itself, and hence not God nor law, which, both of them, will meet with a claim of subjection; self, which cannot be satisfied with self, and hence turns to unsatisfying lusts of things beneath itself; for it has not God, for whom, and to enjoy whom, man was created. Man has not only sinned, he is a sinner.

Neither life nor righteousness was to be had by the law. “If there had been a law which could have given life, righteousness should have been by the law. But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.” Hence the Lord adds in the passage just quoted, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.” It is as rejected by the world, not continuing in it (for they had heard out of the law that Christ should abide for ever), that He becomes, as rejected, the attracting centre to draw men to Him, delivering them from this present evil world. Hence it is too that it is said, “but now once in the end of the world (or the consummation of ages) hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself;” that is, it was morally the end of the world. All the ages, all the phases of man’s probation had been gone through—without law, under law, prophets, and the only-begotten Son having come, and in vain tested by grace presented to his responsibility, shewing not only that he sinned by his will, but that he was irrecoverable if it was to depend on his nature and will, even with all God could bring forward to try to reclaim it. A new creation, being born again, is not reclaiming the old thing; it is substituting a new. Man is not recoverable as such, but he can be redeemed by, and created anew in, Christ Jesus. Such is the testimony of God.

Man is preached to as lost; Christ (when the full truth came out, man having been tested by grace as well as law) came to seek and to save that which was lost. The law may be presented to a man now to prove it. It is made for the unrighteous, as the enlightened saint taught by the word knows. Christ may be presented to the sinner too; but if grace works not, he will none of Him; he will prove in his particular case—what the word has proved of the world in its history—he is a wilful doer of his own lawless (a[nomo") will, and a hater of God, even if He come in grace. And if God gives every evidence, “Ye will not come to me that ye might have life.” (John 5.) Thus the principle of man’s responsibility was fully tested in every way.

And now comes God’s part. Is it mixing up the new thing He brings in with the old, as a principle to recover and rectify it? Is it digging about and dunging and pruning the old tree that He may have good fruit? He has done it, and done it in vain. His word is—“cut it down, why cumbereth it the ground?” and this was the meaning of Christ’s cursing the figtree. Israel, even with all the appliances at God’s disposal, bore no fruit; it was to bear none for ever. Flesh may remain in us, as the old stock in the grafted tree, as a thing hostile to the Spirit, for exercises and humbling profit, so that we may overcome, and have our senses exercised to discern good and evil; but it is never formed into a new (till glory changes all); it is as a nature hostile and condemned, and only that; not subject to the law of God, nor can be; enmity against God, where it has a mind at all. The second Adam is, morally and spiritually speaking, substituted for the first, does not restore and recover it. Without law it is lawless; with law it transgresses; with Christ it rejects and slays Him, and in him even who has the Spirit as a believer, lusts against it. What is Christ then, if we have followed the effect of responsibility out to “the end of the world,” to the full effects of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil? Can I give up the knowledge of good and evil and go back innocent to the tree of life? Impossible; not meant to be. Christ, the Second man, the Last Adam, meets the case wholly. How? He bears atoningly the effect of our responsibility. It is wholly, fully met, and not only so, but God Himself glorified in that by which He met it. He died, having been made sin. He is the source of life to us, a new life, and life in the power of resurrection, clean out of the whole scene in which the first Adam fell, for He has died in that and is risen. The whole case resting on the two trees in Paradise, in the law founded on satisfying the responsibility so as to have life, is completely met, by Christ being the source and power of a wholly new life, having perfectly met the responsibility we were lying under in guilt; and done more—glorified God so as to enter as man into God’s glory. Redemption and eternal life, promised before the world began, the glory of God and conformity to Christ’s image in it—such are the terms of divine grace and the condition of the believer in Jesus; but by death, not by the restoration of the first Adam, but by his death and condemnation, and a new creation in Christ Jesus. This is Christianity in its true power.

Is responsibility enfeebled or weakened? No; met, wonderfully and gloriously met. Is the law set aside, or law made void? No; both the principle of law and the authority of the law are established. Its principle is the authority of God justly requiring from the creature what he ought to be, and, when man was fallen, the true measure of his conduct as in flesh, and its authority is made good for ever. It will be good in the day of judgment, for they that have sinned under it shall be judged by it. Am I then under it? In no sense. Why? Because I have died, and the law has authority over a man as long as he lives. Israel, who was formally under law, has been set aside, as we know, for the present time, and is (till grace, blessed grace, restore them) without law, without idols, but without God, though loved for the fathers’ sake; and the Gentile has his place in Christ after He has died and risen again, and takes his place on this new ground, when his guilt and the result of his responsibility have been borne by another, and that same One the life in which he lives to God, and in which he is responsible on a wholly new ground.

It is because men have believed in a recovery of man in flesh— and so a continuance of law, which applies to men alive in flesh, only spiritualized and suffused into a new system of grace—that they have argued for the maintenance of law; while others have sought to prove that the law was dead, and did not bind, Christ having abrogated it and introduced something more suited to man. Both are alike wrong. It may seem presumptuous to say so; but the word of God has authority above all men, as I am sure the great body of those I refer to would cordially acknowledge. I avow, since I have spoken of it, that of the two parties who have discussed the matter in Glasgow I should prefer those who maintain the authority of the Sabbath. I do not agree with them; but they stand up for the authority of God, supposing it to be such for themselves: that I respect. It seems to me that the adverse party stand up for man, alienated as he is from God. This may be wise in these days when man is exalted, and I have no doubt will be; but I have no respect for this.

I love the poor, I have no distrust of them; I live by far the most of my time amongst them, and gladly. When first I began such a life, I as to nature felt a certain satisfaction in the intercourse of educated persons: it was natural. I avow that, if I find a person spiritually minded and full of Christ, from habit as well as principle, I had rather have him than the most elevated or the most educated: the rest is all alike to me. The latter are apt to spare themselves, to screen themselves, to get on in society; they want a fence round them. I would rather, in general, have a poor man’s judgment of right and wrong than another’s; only I think they are, from being thrown more together and the importance of character, apt to be a little hard on each other as to conduct, and jealous of favours conferred, but often very kind and considerate one towards another.

After all, we are all one in Christ Jesus, and the word of God is to guide and lead us withal. I am sure that, while every Christian will readily give honour where honour is due, God loves and cares for the poor. I confess that I have no sympathy with the sentiment that, because the spirit of radicalism is to be feared, we must suit God’s authority, if it be such, to man’s wishes. This is all morally very low ground. If I had been in Parliament when a proposition was made to shut up the London parks on Sunday (that is, the foot gates, leaving the carriage gates perhaps open for the sick) I should have moved as an amendment (did I meddle with such things) to shut the carriage gates and open the foot ones—the rich could go out every day, and if sick could drive elsewhere. That a poor man, the one day he has with his family, should be able to breathe, I delight in; I rejoice to see the affections of a father cultivated in kindness to his children, and both happy together; and if the Lord’s day gives him the opportunity, the Lord’s day is a true blessing.

The poor, every one labouring during the week, should insist on the Sabbath: it is essentially his own day. For the same reason I avow, if my vote decided it, and happily for me I have none, and would not have or use one, not a train should run on the Lord’s day. As to excursions, they are a thorough curse to all engaged in them. I cannot help them; I leave them there. But as to Sunday trains, I do not believe they are for sober reasons to meet cases of necessity and mercy, as men speak; they are to make money. If it be alleged that the requirements of society oblige it, what are the requirements of society but haste to be rich, and an imperious claiming of the right to have one’s own way? I understand very well that railroads, monopolizing the roads, there is a kind of supposed obligation to meet the case of those who could have travelled at any rate. But if obliged, they can hire something to go. No. It is facility, cheapness they want—it is money and will. They are as free to travel as they were before. I have nothing to do with these things, and never intend to have to do with them. The world goes its way; and I am not of it. The allegations of Christians about it I have to say to, and I do not accept them, or the accommodating Christianity to what is called progress; only I think the Christian has to form his own ways, and not to expect to mend the world. I see no moral gain in its progress. I have telegraphs and railways—very convenient, no doubt; but are children more obedient, men happier, servants more faithful and devoted, homes and families happier and more cherished? Is there more trust and genial confidence among men, more honesty in business, more kindly feelings between master and men, employers and employed? Let every one answer in his own heart. You have more facilities in money making, but more anxiety and restlessness in making it; more luxury and show, but not more affection or peace.

But I confess I have got away from my subject. I return to it, and produce from Scripture the testimonies which shew that we are not under the law; yet not because the decalogue or law is abolished or buried, but because we are dead, buried, and risen again in Christ; because we are a new creation, redeemed out of the position we were in in flesh. That we are redeemed from its curse no one denies, so that I do not argue that point, all important as it is: that we are not justified by it is admitted in terms, but I think not really known and held, and is closely connected with our argument: still it is admitted in terms, and hence I do not argue it here. The point insisted on is, that it is the rule of life, and this point I shall here take up. And I begin by stating, that on the ground of man’s responsibility as a child of Adam, it clearly is so; I believe it to be a—the—perfect rule of life for man as he is. Had Adam not eaten, he would have lived; had man kept the law, he would have lived. Only, it must be remembered, that we know what the mind of the flesh is, that it “is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be; so then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.” The law was a test, but never to a sinner, meant to be the way of life, which yet are its express terms —Do this and live.

And here I must distinguish between law and the law, not as men do between an essential law and the decalogue, but between its principle and its enactments. Law is practically the principle of requiring from one, subject to the lawgiver, a certain line of conduct which he imposes by authority. So that we have the two principles: requirement, which may take the form of prohibition; and authority. There may be a sanction withal, a motive acting on fears or hopes, as is usual in laws applied to men’s conduct. This modifies the character, but hardly enters, I think, into its essence; still it does characterize law as we have to say to it. Adam was under a law: something was prohibited by authority. Men were living without law then till Moses, and. Israel was put under law at Sinai—positive requirement by authority. Now this clearly goes on the principle of the responsibility of Adam or his children, men in the flesh. There was no giving of life. Life might be kept or had by fulfilment, it was not given. We have, as to what is required, three cases of law. The law given to Adam was a simple test of obedience. It implied no sin, no lust; but authority and obedience. But if man is put on the ground of responsibility as to right and wrong, I must expect a perfect rule to be given to him, and so there was; but it must not go beyond the duty of the being in the position in which he stood, or it would not be a test of his responsibility. The law given to Adam was perfect in this way. It was a simple test of obedience— perhaps I might add, of confidence.

Secondly, the essence of the law, that on which law and prophets hung, as presented by the Lord, was the abstract rule of perfectness in a creature, loving God with all the heart, and our neighbour as ourselves. This, in a creature, would be human perfection. Doubtless the angels do it, if even a commandment be not needed for them. It is folly to talk of a transcript of God’s own mind, unless it be His mind as to what the creature ought to be, which, of course, His law must be; but it cannot be the perfection of God’s mind in Himself, because it is of what man’s ought to be. God cannot love His neighbour as Himself, nor any other being with all His heart, as owing it to him. It is, what it professes to be, a perfect rule for man as such. It condemns him as he is, because it tells what he ought to be; nor, if he were what he ought to be, would he want it. A command to do it, to feel right, supposes the need of it—liability to fail in doing so.21 But in itself it is a perfect positive rule for man as a child of Adam.

The third form of law is the Decalogue, equally perfect, fourth commandment and all, in its place—perfect for man, but here openly contemplating man as a sinner—a perfect rule till man was fully made known as having no good thing in him; and a means, when spiritually understood, of shewing it; and hence known to be given in result, with a totally different idea on the part of God than that of man’s keeping it. No doubt man ought to have done so, but to give to a being who lusted in his nature, a commandment not to lust, could not be with the idea of its being kept, as spiritually known by fallen man, however right it might be to keep it. A man might be blameless as regards his righteousness externally according to it, and the greatest enemy of God in the world. Hence, I say, it served as a rule to be kept till the truth came out, while man was under probation tested as to his state. A rule perfectly right for a being perfectly wrong in will may convict, but cannot actually guide. How guide a wrong will, a being who in his mind is not subject to the rule nor indeed can be? I speak of the law when the law was given as a law. It was a perfect rule, but only applicable when man did not know himself, unless to convict and condemn.

But, as thus given to man as an external system, it was clearly (and that is admitted on all hands) set aside. There was an annulling of the commandment going before, for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof (for the law made nothing perfect), and the bringing in of a better hope by the which we draw nigh to God. God was not to be tempted by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither the Jewish disciples nor their fathers had been able to bear. The whole system, as a system, was declaredly and unquestionably set aside, and Christianity, the faith, not law, came in. After that faith came, that is, Christianity, the system of faith, we were no longer under the schoolmaster. I make a difference as to the ten words, of which I will speak. God spoke them out of the midst of the fire, and added no more. They were laid up in the ark. All this made a difference, but as terms of a covenant, they are clearly set aside with the rest, supposing them for a moment written on our hearts, and we the objects of the new covenant; if that were so, still, as engraved in stones as legal conditions of blessing in the old covenant, all is done away together. What waxed old was ready to vanish away. The old covenant we are not under, and surely the commandments formed the basis of that.

But it will be said, every one admits that: but you must distinguish between the principle of the old covenant and the contents of that which constitutes its main terms, though there may be other details. Precisely so. There is a principle in law, as well as contents. Now I am not in relationship with God on that principle at all; that is, I am not under law at all before Him. Such is the constant testimony of the apostle: it is not merely that I am not justified by it. If it is the measure of my righteousness, and I am under it as such, I must be justified on that principle in some way. Works of law must be my justification. The apostle tells me it is not so.

But I leave this part of the question, because, as I said, in terms, at least, it is admitted, and I do not seek to raise questions; but I am not under law—not in relationship with God on that principle in any respect. I am not under it for sanctification, or anything else whatever. I am not under law, but under grace. I may get great instruction from it: so I do from every part of the Old Testament. I get the deepest and most precious instruction from the sacrifices, as to what Christ’s sacrifice is, nothing more precious; I get its various aspects more developed there, than in the New; but I am not under them. Something else has been substituted for them. I am not, as to anything, on the principle of law in relationship with God. I will speak of its contents. They are given on this principle, with a curse attached to them; the principle is really involved, but I confine myself to that now. I am not under law at all in my relationship with God.

We need power for sanctification, but law gives no power. I speak of the principle of relationship. It is requirement, righteous requirement; and I read, “Sin shall not have dominion over you, because ye are not under law but under grace.” That is no question of justification, but of the dominion of sin. So “the strength of sin is the law.” “Sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence; for without the law sin was dead, but when the commandment came in, sin revived, and I died.”

Now all this applies, not to justification, but to the power and working of sin in us. Law (not that it is the fault of Law, as the apostle is careful to say) is only an occasion to the power of sin. It is so for us, and that is the case we have to deal with. Now this depends on the principle of law in our case, requiring from a sinner with a perverse will obedience to that which is contrary to his will (as a claim of authority over him) and to his lusts as being in sinful flesh. The principle of law is ruinous to us alike for condemnation and the power of sin. It is in vain to say I am under law with a new motive. I must be not under law not to be under the dominion of sin.

But it is alleged—Yes, but the contents of the law are good. Undoubtedly, they are holy, just, and good. But if I take the contents, I am no better off, if they are a law, because I am in sinful flesh when the contents are brought before me. I cannot take the law to an innocent man. The forbidden tree man has eaten of. There is an end of that law. Well, let us take the commandments. They suppose sin, for they condemn it; they suppose lust, for they forbid it. The commandment even to love would not be addressed to a perfect being. It supposes him, as I have said, unloving or capable of being so. Hence no such precept was addressed to Adam. Besides, “thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” would not do for Adam. What could stealing mean for him? what lust? The law, the apostle tells us, is not for a righteous man, ouj kei'tai, does not apply to—suit— belong to—such. But if it applies to the unrighteous, what can it do for them? It is clear a prohibition to lust cannot even be understood personally by one who has no lusts—can have, at any rate, no application to him; but if he has lusts in his nature, this nature cannot be subject to it. I am now speaking of the contents of it. The law supposes sin, and rightly so; because, when it was given, sin was there.

But we are told that that is true in its present form, but that there is an essential truth in it, which was for Adam and given to Adam, though the shape it took afterwards supposed sin. Well, what is this essential truth? That the law is holy, just, and good, I admit as fully as possible; but how can stealing and lust apply to Adam, or anything but a formed state of proprietary possession and sinful flesh? Perfectly right to condemn them when they were there, but certainly not adapted to an unfallen state. Adam had no such law, and could not in fact or in essence. The best proof is that God did not give him such. Conscience of lust or stealing he certainly had not. God gave him another which perfectly suited his state and supposed no sin. To say he was under this, when God put him formally under another, seems to impugn the wisdom of God for a theory. It is not that the commandments are anything but perfect, when man is in the state and relationships to which they apply. But Adam was not in that state, and those relationships; and God wisely gave him one suited to the state he was in, which maintained His authority and tested his obedience, but supposed no sin nor implied its existence.

I believe the law to be the perfect rule of life for man in the flesh, but it supposes sin, and applies to sinful flesh, to man in the flesh; and, being on the principle of requirement, and rightly so (for it is a very important principle and maintains God’s rights), it condemns me as to righteousness, and is no help to me, but the contrary, as to sanctification. If then the law be holy, just, and good in its contents, why not be under it? why not maintain it? Because I am then in a relationship with God which involves condemnation and the power of sin. Law is law, not grace, and the strength of sin is the law. Maintain the law as law and you destroy its authority if it be not law to you; and if it be law to you, it is the strength of sin, and sin will have dominion over you. It must, as law, have external authority, God’s authority as such. If you weaken that, you have destroyed it as a law.

And here I separate from both parties who have discussed it. They both, in my judgment, really destroy its authority, one unintentionally, the other declaring it is abrogated, buried, and the like. The former are obliged to yield a great deal, desiring to maintain its authority, because they cannot help it; the latter destroy its authority and make it to be abrogated. I do not abate one jot or one tittle. I do not raise the question of Gentiles not being under it, though historically true; because, if not, they are lawless, and I admit the law to be a perfect rule for man in the flesh. I say I am not on Gentile ground, though a Gentile; not a[nomo" Qew'/ lawless in respect to God, but e[nnomo" Cristw'/, I do not say under the law to Christ (that is an utterly false translation), but duly subject to Christ. Yet I do not say the authority of the law is weakened or done away, but that I am dead to it. The law has power over a man as long as he lives—and can have it no longer; and I am no longer alive in the flesh.

I reject the altering, modifying, the law. I reject christianizing in it; that is, weakening its legal character by an admixture of grace that is neither law nor gospel. I maintain its whole absolute authority. Those who have sinned under it will be judged by it. It will have its own authority (that is, God’s) according to its own terms in the day of judgment; but I am not under it but under grace, not under the schoolmaster but a son, because faith is come, and I have the Spirit of adoption. I am on another footing and in another relationship with God; I am not in the flesh, not in the place of a child of Adam at all, but delivered out of it by redemption. I have died and risen again; I am in Christ.

Let us see what scripture teaches on this point. Positive transgressions are blotted out by the blood of Christ. The law, we are told, as a covenant of works is gone in Christ’s death. Now I say that scripture teaches more than that, teaches what applies to the old man as regards our standing before God, and that we have, for faith, died out of the place and nature in which we were under the law. Take the fullest and clearest case—a Jew actually under it: I do not doubt it will be practically realized by a Gentile as a principle. What is the judgment of law on my old man, my being as in flesh? Condemnation only as a covenant? No, death. It is not merely a new motive, a new spring of conduct afforded, by which, law being maintained as law, I keep it. Law is (2 Cor. 3) a ministration of death as well as of condemnation. But what then? “I through the law am dead to the law.” It has killed me, “that I might live to God.” “Add not to his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.” You might say it is abrogated as a covenant of works but not as a rule of life, though scripture does not say so: it is a mere human invention. But you cannot say I am dead to it, but it is to be my rule of life. That is nonsense.

I am dead to the law by the law. It has done its work and killed me as regards itself; I do not exist as regards the law, or it has failed in its power. And I am dead to the law that I might live to God. If I have not done with it, I cannot live to Him. And how? “I am crucified with Christ. Nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me; and the life which I live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” That is not law. When faith came, says the apostle, we were no longer under a schoolmaster, that is, under law. Note here: It is not Christ bearing our sins that delivers from law at all. True deliverance is wrought there as regards our sins. But, in freeing me from law, God is not delivering me, a living child of Adam, from the dread consequences of my sins. He is doing another work. It is I who have died with Christ. Nor is it forgiveness of sin which is spoken of in such case, although through this death of Christ it is not imputed. We die to sin—not sins, not for sins, but to sin. “He that is dead is justified from sin.”

If the obedience of one has constituted me righteous, why cannot I say then I may live in sin? How can we that are dead to sin live any longer therein? The reasoning of the apostle in the end of Romans 6 is fatal to the use of law as a rule of life. We have nothing to do here with a question of a covenant of works. It is a question of life, living in sin, obedience, holiness,—what the principle and rule of it is. Am I going to sin, to be what is called an Antinomian, because I am not under law? No. What principle, what rule of life, have I? Reckon yourself to be dead to sin and alive to God. As alive in Christ, I am to yield my members as instruments of righteousness unto God. I can do it, obey, not a law, but a person, God Himself absolutely. Why? I am not under law but under grace. I yield myself. What an occasion to explain that we were not under it as a covenant of works but that we were as a rule of life! But now living rules of life are treated of; how we arrive, and on what principle, at sin not having dominion over us. It is this (not justification) which is arrived at by not being under the law. Will that lead us to sin? Again what an occasion to tell us, No, you know it is still a rule of life. But no. Silence, ominous silence. They had been the servants of sin, and what now? They had obeyed from the heart— the law from having new motives? No; die form of doctrine which had been delivered to them. They were not under law: if they were, sin would have dominion over them. But they had obeyed the new form of doctrine. They were slaves to righteousness, slaves to God, and had their fruit unto holiness. Sin’s wages were death, God’s gift eternal life. The law does not come in at all, save to shew that those who get under it would be under the dominion of sin. Nor does the covenant of works come into the question, but life, walking in sin, its dominion, obedience, holiness—but we are not under the law. But this must be treated of specifically.

The fifth (from verse 12) had shewn that all must be traced for righteousness to the two heads, Adam and Christ, and that the law had only come in by the by to make the offence abound. The sixth that we, having died in Christ, are not under the dominion of that sinful nature, nor under law which applied to it. The seventh will now fully treat the question of position under law itself. The apostle declares the absolute incompatibility of being under the law and Christ at the same time. He states it in the strongest way. We cannot be bound to the law any more than a woman can have two husbands at the same time. Husbands— for what? To justify as a covenant of works? No. To obey, to bring forth fruit unto God. You have nothing about works to justify, nor covenant of works, but it is the question of what I am bound to, by what law I am bound.

Is not that it? Read and see. Well, I am become dead to the law by the body of Christ that I may be to Another. And then, mind, I am bound to Another who has authority over me, and I cannot have anything else come in and claim authority. I have seen Moses and Elias disappear, having served God in their generation, and have heard the Father’s voice saying, This is my beloved Son, hear Him. I have been prepared by the sixth chapter to see that it is not disobedience and living in sin, because, being dead to sin, I live to God through Christ, and am obedient to Him. I now find, in detail, that, thus dead as I am, the obligation to my first husband is closed, become impossible. I am married to Another; I am bound to Him: the bond and obligation is absolute. I can hear only Him. I cannot even say, I go by my second husband to know what my first means and commands. I have but one: His authority is complete and absolute. We have nothing to do here with justification or covenant of works, but— to whom am I bound? One paper I looked at tells me the chapter means “The death of Christ dissolved our old relation to the law as a covenant of works, and left us at liberty to contract a new relation.” Did anybody ever read such an effort to elude scripture?—a new relation with what? With the law over again? What old relation to the law is spoken of in the chapter? We have died, so that there is no more relationship at all, and we are married to another—Christ raised from the dead. Where is a covenant of works spoken of or alluded to in the chapter? Further, what constitutes the whole point of the chapter, our being dead, is not alluded to by the author. “Ye are become dead to the law by the body of Christ.” If I wanted a proof that I have to do with a writer who had a system which hindered him from daring to look scripture in the face, this sentence would be it. But I do not seek controversy, so I take no further notice of it. I add here it is well known that in verse 6 we should read as in the margin: “having died in that in which”—ajpoqanovnte" not ajpoqanovnto". Else those who say the law was abrogated and buried would have this text to lean upon. If we have then died with Christ, we can also say, we have been quickened together with Him, and raised up together, and made sit together in heavenly places.

The Christian is a heavenly person though walking through the wilderness, and he is the epistle of Christ in it. What is his rule? To walk as Christ walked. Every part of scripture, law and all, may furnish him fight, and he may use it to convict of sin, for natural conscience owns the righteousness of it. Paul governed his conduct by a prophecy of Isaiah 49. And thank God the New Testament abounds in precepts to guide us. Nor are we to let slip the word commandment. Because if we did everything right, nothing would be right if it were not obedience, and command expresses authority. Still we ought to be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding. The spiritual man judges all things. I can only speak of the principle and standard here. I may surprise perhaps my readers when I say that the conduct of God is made our standard, as being made partakers of the divine nature. It is not the perfect rule for man in the flesh, but the divine conduct for man in the Spirit. The apostle can say, “When we were in the flesh,” and describe in the seventh of Romans the conflicts of a renewed man who is not set free by known redemption, but is still under his first husband— the law, knowing it is spiritual, consenting to it, delighting in it, but never keeping it. But he can, when he has known deliverance, say, “The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath set me free,” knowing that God has not forgiven but condemned sin in the flesh, but in Christ a sacrifice for sin, and that, now a Christian, not in the flesh but in the Spirit, his place and standing are changed —alive thus in Christ, created again in Christ Jesus unto preordained good works that he may walk in them, renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created him. What are these good works? I have said, scripture has said, he, perfect before God in Christ, is to imitate God. Where to find the image of this in a man? Christ is the image of the invisible God. United with Him in heaven, the Christian is to walk like Him on earth, in grace as manifesting God, looking to Him above, and so changed into His image from glory to glory, as by the Spirit of the Lord.

Let us see the scripture account of this. First, the Father’s22 name being revealed, not the legal name of Jehovah, we are to be perfect as our Father which is in heaven is perfect. He loves them that do not love Him, He is kind to the unthankful, and to the evil. But more precisely in Ephesians 4, 5, this is fully developed. We have subjectively and objectively the pre-ordained walk of the Christian: subjectively—the putting off the old man, and putting on the new, and, secondly, our bodies being the temple of the Holy Ghost, the not grieving the Spirit of God by which we are sealed to the day of redemption; then the objective rule—Be ye kind, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ hath forgiven you. We have then the two essential names of God, given as that to be realized, and Christ presents the realization of them in man: “Be ye imitators of God as dear children, and walk in love as Christ hath loved us, and given himself for us, a sacrifice and an offering to God for a sweet smelling savour.” We are to be imitators of God, His love in Christ being our pattern.

And here we find the superiority of the christian principle to law in its very nature. Law taught me to love my neighbour as myself—made my love to self the measure of my duty to my neighbour. Christianity looks for having no self at all, but giving up ourselves for our neighbour. Two principles form the perfectness of this: He gave Himself for others and to God. This last is needed that the principle may be perfect. The affection must have a perfect object as well as be perfectly, and in order to be perfectly, free from self, and perfect in itself. For affections have their character and value from their object. But the principle of legal perfection is another, and wholly short of this. The rule was not what a man ought to be as such, but to be an imitator of God as a dear child of his Father, Christ being the manifestation of love in this and the measure of it. To compare the mutual love of oneself and another, and make it the same as the absolute self-devotedness of Christ, is a mere abuse of terms, because the word love is used in both. The other name of God is Light. We are light in the Lord: we are to walk as children of fight. Again Christ is referred to: “Christ shall give thee light.” Thus perfect love in self-sacrifice, imitating God therein, walking as being in Christ, in and of the light which manifests everything, Christ being the model of it. Such is the rule of life of the Christian. He is dead, and his life hid with Christ in God. If he believes, it is Christ lives in him, he is not living (alive) in this world. People may resist such views, but, if they do, they must resist scripture. The great secret of all is, that we are not, as before God, and responsible to Him, alive in the Adam life at all. Christ is our life—Christ who is risen. I am dead, have been crucified with Christ, to sin or the flesh and the lusts thereof, to the law by the body of Christ, to the world, and the world to me. The whole scene of a living man, this world in which the life of Adam develops itself, and of which the law is the moral rule, I do not belong to, before God, more than a man who died ten years ago out of it. I come, having the life of Christ, having the Son and so have life, into the midst of it, to walk in the path which He has traced through it. And now, what is the sabbath the rest of? This creation. I am not of it. It is a new creation I am of, old things are passed away. If I had known Christ after the flesh, as belonging to this world, down here and under the law, I know Him no more. And what is the rest of the new creation to which I belong as having died and risen, Christ being my life? The heavenly rest of which the Lord’s-day is the intimation, the day of Christ’s resurrection.

Let us see what scripture says directly on the subject; and first of all Genesis 2. Here God rested on the seventh day and sanctified it, because He rested on it. I do not think Paley’s argument right, or of any value if it be right. In any case the seventh day is recognized by God as consecrated when He did give a law, as sanctified and blessed because He rested on that day. But it was the rest of creation, of the first creation as God made it, very good. Nobody says it was observed all along from that to Israel’s departure from Egypt. There may have been traditions of it, clearer or more obscure. It seems there were, both scriptural and heathen, but they are obscure. But that creation fell at once, and the very thing we have heard in Christianity is, that man never did keep it, never could, nor ever can be subject to it, or have rest on that footing. It may be a mercy to his body (I believe it is): his body is part of the old creation. But I speak of relationship with God. Religiously the rest of the old creation is impossible to him.

In the law God took up man in the flesh and the creation, to test the possibility of man’s living in relationship with God in them; and it was proved impossible there. But the sabbath was the sign then of relationship with God. It was not a seventh day, but the seventh, not of the six, on those God was working, they were not His rest. It is all very well to talk of a seventh day. A seventh day may be good for man, but shuts out God, leaves His rest aside, and gives man his rest as a physical rest without Him, rests when He was working, and works when He was resting, slights God, if it reposes man. It was the seventh day was blessed because God rested on it. Man did not want rest from toil in Paradise. Was he not to keep the seventh day if he had not fallen? Would he keep a seventh day as the essence of it, or the seventh because God rested on it? No, the seventh day alone is the religious character of it, because man’s blessing is in God’s rest. He is man all the six days as to his path according to God’s will, with God the seventh. But he fell directly, never entered into God’s rest.

And here I would note in passing, a very material point noticed in Dr. Cairn’s speech at Berwick, that the argument against the sabbath, because man was fallen and could not have part in the original institution, would be valid if man were not recoverable.

Now I affirm, that exactly what scripture teaches is that man is not recoverable. Men are recoverable; but it is by being born again, by dying and rising, putting off the old man and putting on the new. The law, and even Christ’s coming, as addressed to man’s responsibility, was the proof that man was irrecoverable, that there must be a Second man instead of the first, and that death and resurrection must come in to found a place for man with God, that there must be a putting off the old man and a putting on the new man. The character of infidelity in the present day is, that man can be improved and recovered—does not want a new man to be born again. It will just lead to Antichrist. It is antichristianity unawares, the denial of the fundamental principles of Christianity—being born again, and the cross. Man is not recoverable as in flesh, he must be born again, a[nwqen entirely anew, from the origin of his nature, and redeemed. The sabbath is the rest of man in flesh. Religiously there is no rest for man in the flesh, as there is no recovery for man in the flesh. The law tried it, and set up the sabbath as a sign consequently of the covenant; but the flesh was not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can it be.

And see the blessed and touching way in which Christ consequently met the stupid accusation of breaking the sabbath, when He made the man carry his bed, proving the life giving God and Lord of the sabbath was there. They charged Him with it. What is His answer? “My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.” Unspeakably blessed! Can the Father and the Son—God in grace (for so in John God is ever spoken of, in grace as contrasted with responsibility to God as God), the God of love, rest where misery and ruin is? Can the holy God of love rest where sin is? God might have destroyed in judgment; but in goodness He cannot rest in sin. He works where sin and misery are. Can there be a more touching, wonderful answer of divine wisdom, making, as every word of that blessed one did, Himself more precious, and giving a proof that the all-wise God of grace was there? God has no sabbath really in a world of sin and misery.

We find this character in Christ. He was subject to the system He was in, while in it; but another truth, which came fully out after His resurrection, continually shines through. Does not your Master pay tribute (to the temple)? Yes, says Peter, He is a good Jew. When he goes in, the Lord prevents23 him, and shews that, as a divine person, He knew what was passing, away from His bodily presence. Divine knowledge was there, but He associates Peter with Himself—we are “children” of the temple, and therefore free; but “lest we should offend.” Then we have divine power over creation—He makes a fish bring the needed money: but again He associates Peter with Himself—”That take and give for me and thee.” Subject to, but above all, around Him, He associates us with Himself in the place He has now taken as Son above, even as man.

But as Christ in reply to the Jewish charge declares He was divinely working as Son, not resting, so the apostles treat this subject of the Jewish sabbath. Hebrews 4 does so fully. The objection that we who believe do enter into rest means present rest of conscience as a believer, I reject utterly as entire insensibility to the whole purpose of the argument, which is, that we must labour to enter into that rest, and that there remains a rest (that is, that it is not come). The conscience does enter into rest by faith, and man has ceased from resting in his works as being a sinner. As an accommodation, it may be all very well; but he has not ceased from his works as a Christian as God did from His. The passage merely states who are the enterers. Believers enter, unbelievers do not; as if I should say, There is the door—only peers—only men enter. It is the present of title or habit, not of time. I dismiss this.

But there is important instruction in the chapter. Man has never yet entered into the rest of God; he did not in creation, although his works were finished from the foundation of the world; for God says, “if they shall enter.” But, said the Jew, we have entered—Caleb, Joshua, the children—they did not fall through unbelief. No, says our chapter, “if they shall enter” comes after Joshua; and if he had given them rest, He would not so long after in the Psalms have spoken of another day. There remains a rest for God’s people. Into God’s rest man has not entered. He did not on its first institution in paradise. Well, promises of the Seed came. There was no promise to the first Adam; but in the judgment on the serpent the victory of the Seed of the woman, of the Second Adam (just not the first, who was no seed of the woman), was promised. Then when God called Abraham, the nations having turned to idolatry, came first the promise before legal responsibility, and the law 430 years after, which could neither annul nor add to the unconditional promise, and the law was blessing conditional on man’s obedience. After the promise that is, comes the law, with the blessing founded on man’s responsibility identified with the first creation, promises referring to it given as the blessing; and the sabbath—the rest of God—is immediately set up, of course on the principle of the institution (that is, legally).

I will shew how very much was made of it, but first a few words on moral law and the decalogue. By moral law I understand the duty of maintaining the relationship in which we stand. But they acquire their obligation from their institution by God, and the first relationship of all is relationship with God—hence the first of all moralities—and which casts its light and character on all the rest, because, in whatever God has instituted or commanded, I am bound to obedience; and obedience itself is morality in its highest form. It is maintaining relationship with God. Hence, before sin came in, the test was abstract pure obedience—“thou shalt not eat.” Well, man disobeyed and fell—got wholly away from God; but he got a conscience in and by his fall—the knowledge of good and evil, that is, the sense of good and evil in itself without a commandment or law which made it obedience, which would have supposed his being still with God. Such was the wisdom of God. But this natural conscience enforced the obligation of these relationships in which God had placed man. Man’s institutions might deface and obscure them: still the internal obligation was there. A wife was owned as a wife, though divorce might come in; parents as parents, though the state might claim rights over that tie; violence and robbery were known to be violence, though they might gloriously plunder enemies, and so on. And the blessed Lord would restore the testimony, “from the beginning it was not so.” Thus, though there was no commandment, no law, there was morality, and the Gentile would do by nature the things contained in the law and be a law to himself, an expression which peremptorily excludes the having a law of God which made it obedience, and rests it on conscience acquired in the fall, when man left God and was turned out from Him.

After the promise which shewed that grace and the Seed could alone bring blessing, God’s authority was set up in a revealed way, and after an external and typical redemption the law promulgated. This, while based on God’s authority, established of course by its sanction all the relationships God had instituted, only chiefly by prohibitions of the breach of them; that is, where those relationships constituted a distinctive right against others, divine or human. The sabbath and parental authority are alone positive, though the former be negative in detailed directions. And here I avow, though it be not properly a relationship properly speaking, nor hence a morality independent of the knowledge of God, a matter of conscience when man was away from God and so a law to himself e.g. without God’s authority, yet the moment God was brought in and that first of all relationships set up, a part of that, yea its essence, was the recognition of absolute obedience to Him and His sovereignty in commanding; and the sabbath, like the prohibition in paradise, became, as a positive command, a more absolute test of relationship with God than all the rest. Gentiles might be moral by conscience without God, as men may now; they might see the folly of idols, as Isaiah reasons, find out they had a lie in their right hand; but the sabbath was a sign of relationship with God, as a people known to Him and under His authority (as all men ought to have been). It was wisely so ordered as a sign of the covenant, it was arbitrary: God commanded it, and that was its authority; but with the knowledge Genesis gave, it was not absolutely so. The Jehovah of Israel was the Creator of heaven and earth. It might have been in one sense arbitrary, though I am sure perfectly wise, to create in six days or seven; but, if He created in six, to have the sabbath on the seventh day was to have a part in the rest of God. It was the very essence of blessing; it was having to say to God, and as God’s people; it was not arbitrary in this, but it was special; not natural conscience, but eminently blessed association with God. But it was the rest of the first creation, and rest according to law (i.e., conditional blessing, on obedience), and that in fact in a fallen being, who could not have it in that way. That godly Jews found the sabbath a delight, when they were in relationship with God, I cannot doubt. God would be true to His own relationship. But the Maccabees, when Lo-ammi was written on the people, only found it a source of disaster, though their conscience might be good. Now the sabbath will be found to be a distinctive sign, the seventh day. One day in seven destroys the very idea of God’s rest.

I take up the law. I find every distinct ordinance has the sabbath annexed to it, not merely the ten commandments, but all that expressed any form of man’s relationship with God. When they had come out of Egypt and manna is given them for daily food, the sabbath is immediately distinguished (Exodus 16). In Exodus 20 we have the commandments, God’s relationship with Israel set up, thereupon the sabbath established. The second commandment gives the terms of Jehovah’s relationship with Israel, He is here “Jehovah thy God,” and the “sabbath of Jehovah thy God;” and it is expressly the rest of this first creation, “wherefore Jehovah blessed the seventh day.” Keeping it holy was the point, though the rest of all was the sign of that. When the tabernacle is to set up (Exodus 31), and Moses is coming down, having received the pattern, the plan and order of relationship, the sabbath is again ordered; it is a sign between Jehovah and the children of Israel for ever, and emphatically, because it was Jehovah’s rest. When Moses gets a new covenant on going up the second time (Exodus 34), the sabbath is introduced. So before the offerings for the tabernacle (Exodus 35). In Leviticus 23, the feasts of Jehovah, it is distinctly brought out in the first place by itself. So in Leviticus 19, when the people are to sanctify themselves, because Jehovah their God is holy, they are to be obedient to parents, and keep His sabbaths. He is Jehovah their God. So in Leviticus 26, when the threatenings as to departure are detailed, it begins, “Ye shall keep my sabbaths and reverence my sanctuary: I am Jehovah.” The very land was to keep a sabbath (Leviticus 25:2, 4, 6), a test whether they trusted a covenant God. And in Numbers 15, when in the midst of judgment the promises of the Lord and His sure faithfulness come in, gathering sticks on the sabbath is punished with death, as a presumptuous sin.

I turn to the prophets, and cite only Ezekiel saying why Israel was rejected, (chap. 20:11, 12), “And I gave them my statutes, and shewed them my judgments, which if a man do, he shall even live in them. Moreover also I gave them my sabbaths, to be a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am Jehovah who sanctify them.” A concordance will give many other passages, but these give the principal. It is Jehovah, Israel’s God (His name with the patriarchs was Almighty; with us, Father through Jesus Christ). It was His sabbath, a sign of relationship with Israel, but founded on the rest of Elohim; but a sign of rest in the first creation, of relationship with God, with Jehovah, in that rest; but given as a law to man in the flesh, and blessing and rest conditional on obedience. Such was the sabbath. The rest of God in the first creation; and then the rest of relationship with God of man in the flesh under condition of obedience.

Now exactly what Christianity teaches us is, that this is impossible. Sin has entered in; the first Adam is lost by disobedience. The flesh is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. And hence He who redeems us was in the grave on the sabbath day, as coming amongst men here the sinless and gracious One, but in the likeness of sinful flesh. Death is the only rest from sin for us, and the covenant of flesh having part in God’s rest is buried in His grave, and the sabbath, the sign of it, with it; but, I repeat, not by abrogating law as such for those under it, but by dying to it, having perfectly glorified it and borne its curse—the highest possible sanction that could be given to it. But Christ’s being in the grave was the final and absolute proof that there could be no relationship with God in the flesh of man; the fig tree was cursed, and never to bear fruit for ever.

But, it is said, the sermon on the mount sets up and spiritualizes the law. How long had I accepted the latter as true! But it is not true. It reveals the Father’s name as a new title of relationship, as the Lord in John 17 declares He had done; and puts inward truth of heart to God in the place of Pharisaic external observances. It does not contemplate redemption, but personal righteousness, as the ground on which the remnant, poor in spirit, could enter into the kingdom of heaven. Only two commandments are referred to, which raised the question of violence and corruption, the great principles of sin. If it be a spiritualization of the law, the sabbath is left out as having no part in that spiritualization; but I do not admit it is. Whatever rules it gives for our moral walk (for though it does not present the ground of entrance to sinners as given in the gospel, yet it shews us what suits the kingdom in which we are by grace), it does not bring in the sabbath as honouring it as a part of it. The truth is, it refers to inward principle and obedience. As regards the passage, “not a jot or tittle will pass from the law till all be fulfilled;” and “I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil,” I receive it surely as a divine sentence to be accepted in its whole force. The most distant thought of His setting aside the law does not enter into my mind—it would be setting aside God’s authority. Christ sealed its authority in His death, but He died out from under it. It has authority over a man as long as he lives. Much of it has been fulfilled; some even of the types are not yet, as the feast of tabernacles; and I am satisfied every bit of it, as well as of the prophets, has been, or will. Christ fully glorified it in His life too. But if I have died, He does not put me under it as risen with Him. Being under it is the way of not fulfilling it to all save Christ Himself—the way of sin having dominion over us.

In the sermon on the mount Christ was shewing the true character of those amongst the Jews who would enter in the kingdom when it was set up; and I therefore fully admit it shews the character we should walk with; but would any man, as preaching the gospel to sinners, present obedience to law and precepts as the way of entrance into the kingdom? Not one word of the glad tidings of Christ’s death and resurrection is in it. I believe if a man is born again, in principle, and according to the principle of the sermon on the mount, his righteousness does exceed that of the Pharisees. But there is no thought of being born again, no thought of the cross; personal obedience is (here) the rock on which we build surely: all well as a guide to a Christian practically; but the terms of the sermon on the mount were addressed not to sinners, but gave the character of Jewish saints who would have part in the kingdom; most instructive to us to shew us what characterizes it, now it is set up, and that he who contradicts it cannot have really a part in the kingdom. I believe Christ came to fulfil the law, I believe it will be all fulfilled; but how can a divine declaration that all will be fulfilled, that it will not pass till all be fulfilled, apply to my fulfilling it? It is not spoken of as an obligation, but as certain of fulfilment. Have I fulfilled it so that it can pass? Have you, reader? Right and mercy never can pass. The Lord does affirm its authority, but He cannot speak in this sentence of people’s fulfilling its moral obligations so that it should pass. Did this then leave them at liberty to slight them? Surely not. That would be. slighting its authority, which the Lord establishes. Whoever did would be guilty under it; and this was true of every jot and tittle even when it was not moral, because authority was involved in it. These ought ye to have done. The least commandment had in its place God’s authority attached to it. But I am not under it for quite another reason; I am dead to the law by the body of Christ, that I might be to another—wholly, entirely dead to it: the bond is dissolved. Is therefore morality gone? No. But it is not maintained in Christianity by the law. “What the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the fleshy that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit.” If I walk after the Spirit, I am not under the law; but the fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, longsuffering, meekness, temperance, patience; against such there is no law. I keep the law de facto, by not being under it de jure, because the life and Spirit of Christ make me love my neighbour, and he who does that fulfils the law. It is produced, not imposed. Hence the first table is not alleged, because that was covenant with Jehovah as a people: we are sons of the Father through Christ; our duties are in that relationship.

Let us now see what the New Testament directly affords us on the sabbath.- Is any hint as to its sacredness to be found? Matthew 12:1 is evidently of great consequence here. The Pharisees complained of the disciples’ plucking and rubbing the ears of corn. The Lord’s answer is remarkable. It is not to rebuke the Pharisees as He does elsewhere, but to shew that the sabbath and other ceremonial enactments have been set aside for sufficient cause, and that a greater than any obligation of the sabbath was there. Could God say, I am greater than a moral commandment? Would that be a divine way of putting things if it were a question of hating a brother or coveting another man’s wife? Such a thought would revolt at once. But that is the Lord’s reasoning as to the sabbath. First a rejected Messiah made all common, for another obligatory commandment, the sabbath, gave way under God’s own eye. Christ was greater than the temple; and if they knew God’s heart, they would not have condemned His disciples. All this proved the Pharisees wrong and unjustifiable. But, besides, the Son of man was Lord of the sabbath. Surely this could not be said of a commandment as to right and wrong! He had a title to dispose of the sabbath, through the dignity of His person and office. Could all this have been said if the Lord were insisting on the maintenance of its authority? He adds that it is lawful to do well on the sabbath. The parallel passage in Mark adds, The sabbath was made for man.

Matthew’s gospel gives us dispensational changes, and, on that ground, Christ’s person as divine; and the place He took as Son of man laid the ground for dealing with the sabbath as Lord of it. Here Christ is the servant-prophet, and we have another ground laid: the sabbath was made for man. It was in favour of—for— man; and hence He who ordered all for man, as the head of the race according to God, was Lord of it. It was a benefit conferred on man for his advantage, and the Son of man was the competent disposer in the matter. Could this be said of a divinely binding law?

In Mark 3:2; Luke 6:7; 14:1-5; 16:10-16, all are cases where He purposely heals so as to draw attention to it on the sabbath-day, diligently offending their prejudices (to say the least) making their zeal as to it a proof of hypocrisy, without a word to save any legal force. Is not this singular that the Holy Ghost only signalizes His casting a slur on their rigid observance of it? Can any one find any other testimony as to the sabbath in the New Testament? In the Old I find on every occasion a special insisting on it, as we have seen. In the New only statements which declare His title over it, or upset legal exactness as to it.

I return for a moment to John 5, which I have already noticed. The other gospels teach us how Christ in different characters was presented to the Jews and to the world. In John both are seen as having not received Him, and the Jews are treated all through as reprobates and the systems rejected: man must be born again. Christ is substituted for the Jews, not presented to them, and brings in of course infinitely greater blessings. Thus the sabbath has a peculiar place here. Christ is not seen as still holding to the system, though going on towards His rejection. He is not traced down from Abraham and David, Emmanuel according to promises, nor up to Adam, the Son of man in grace. He is God in this world, unknown and rejected, the Word made flesh, the Lamb of God; He must make all things new. In person He is the beginning of what is new, though alone as yet in this character till He had died and risen again. Now the sabbath, as we have seen, had been the rest of the first creation; and when man had been taken up in flesh, the sabbath was made a sign of the covenant. A rejected Christ is on new ground, though, as we have seen, while in flesh, outwardly subject to what God had set up in flesh. It is therefore Paul says, “Yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet henceforth know we him no more. Therefore if any man be in Christ, a new creation.” For us His death and resurrection must come in for this purpose. His divine person was above all dispensations, and this, with His work and the mission of the Comforter, is what we have in John. It is not Christ ascended to bring in the headship, but it is Christ a divine person become man. Purpose and grace therefore come necessarily before us.

The case of the paralytic at the pool of Bethesda shews man incapable of using the means afforded in blessings which supposed strength and capacity in him to use them, which was the legal system. If it depends on us, sin has taken away the strength needed to use means given to heal sin, even when the will is there. The man is, so to say, in Romans 7—to will present—no way of performing what must be done. Christ brings—exercises—power, instead of requiring it. A word heals the man, but it is the sabbath, the rest of flesh. But there can be none, and having drawn the attention of the Jews to the point by making the man carry his bed, He answers by declaring that His Father was working hitherto, and He was working, not keeping sabbath, having rest in the midst of sin. It was power come in the midst of evil in grace, not rest in evil. Judgment might have been, judgment will be; grace was and yet is. Where can rest be found for us? In the new creation, in resurrection; first for conscience and heart, finally altogether and perfect. Christ as risen has put man in a new place, on a new footing, not back where Adam innocent was, clean out of the place of Adam guilty and the world which has grown up from him in sin and rejected Christ. Having accomplished the work of redemption, destroyed the power of death, made peace by the blood of the cross, Christ has taken the new place, wholly a new place as man, which His work gives a title to, and places man in by resurrection power. We are before God as risen in Him, though we have the treasure in earthen vessels, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of the body. We are in Christ in the new creation. Our sabbath is not the sabbath in flesh (that of the old creation), but of faith by the resurrection of Christ. It is not imposed on us by law, for we are not under law, but dead, out of the place and nature of sin, for faith, and risen in Christ. But the Lord’s day, the day of Christ’s resurrection, is the happy witness, as far as a day can be, of a better and perfect rest.

I do not enter on the detail of scripture ground for the distinction of this day, which I published many years ago, in reply to the taunt of priests who used it to prove the authority of the Church which had changed the day. I have died with Christ to the old creation, the flesh, and the law; my rest as flesh is in the grave with Him. I have true rest in the divine complacency in Him risen, His work finished, so that God rests in righteousness and delight, and so we in both rest from labour to attain one, rest in joy in what is good in the other, rest in God’s love unhinderedly resting upon us in Christ: the pledge too by the Holy Ghost of the perfect rest which the resurrection of the body will give. Romans 8:2. See John 20; Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:2; Revelation 1:10.

The sabbath is not a seventh day. It is significatively the seventh day, the rest of God, Jehovah’s rest. It is not now the seventh day, the rest of the old creation (to an intelligent Christian that is impossible), but, as clearly distinguished by scripture, the first day of the week in contrast with the seventh, Christ having been unquestionably in the grave during the seventh, and rising (the ground of our rest) the first, not the seventh. Talking about the sabbath being originally the first is slighting the facts, and ignorance as to the purpose and meaning of the change of day. It is not a Jewish or legal sabbath either, but the christian Lord’s day. The only part flesh can have in it now is mercy to man in flesh, and that is a fresh revelation of Christ’s. When originally instituted, toil was not man’s portion; God’s rest he might have enjoyed in a worshipping way, but never did. Now sin is come in, the Lord can tell us the sabbath was made for man. So far therefore as the Lord’s day can be made a day of rest for all, grace will do it. I may not be able to impose it as a religious law on unconverted men. I do not know what that means in Christianity, in the Church of God. Could the early Church have imposed it on the heathen? I believe it is a great mercy if civil law secure it, or the habits of society, even for the world; only there is the danger of self-righteousness. It is an external mercy, if the morality of the law, sabbath and all, be observed; for sin and contempt of God degrade, harden, and corrupt. As a Christian I rejoice to have one day, and the Lord’s day, rescued from the world and the old creation for me a child of God; and I believe and have found that (not for visions, but for blessing and for joy) we may look to be in the Spirit on the Lord’s day. But that is not law. Yet I do not accept at all the taunt of those who bury, as they say, or abrogate the sabbath. I say, If I were on board ship, I should be positively sinning not to take due care of it on the sabbath, and give heed to the safety of all. On the other hand I have not a doubt the Christian ought to think of others, and (unless in cases where mercy does require it) not use cabs and the like on the Lord’s day; and an easy rule is to be found: if he takes one in the name of the Lord Jesus, let him; if not, let him not take one.

And as to meals, it is not scruple: hot or cold, it is all alike to me as to conscience; but I say, Christians ought to leave full leisure on the Lord’s day to those who serve them. On the other hand, instead of law, I would make children as happy as I could on the Lord’s day; I would connect it with happiness, but happiness associated with God, not idle pleasure; and so, as far as I had to say to it, to the toiling poor. I believe it is meant to be a rest of happiness, happiness with God, not legal bondage imposed by Him. I do not expect the world to heed me; but I act for myself. I believe serious-minded persons will respect it, and moral restraint, such as godliness always exercises, will operate on all.

I do not go into the history of this question. I have made collections of the kind on it which I have not with me at the moment. But it is certain the early Christians never confounded the Lord’s day and the sabbath. Those who were Jews knew both as distinct, and those around them did too. Justin Martyr (in a well known passage of the dialogue with Trypho, who reproaches him with giving up the sabbath) says, How can we keep the sabbath, who rest from sin all the days of the week? If I recollect aright, Clement of Alexandria recommends setting it apart if possible. But I recollect this much, that a council of Orleans, in the sixth century or beginning of the seventh, reproaches Christians with keeping the sabbath, and not carting home their corn, or travelling, and asked them if they had turned Jews. But we must not suppose that this meant Sunday or the Lord’s day. Gradually, as Judaism disappeared in the distance, the Lord’s day took its place, but never, I believe, as a legal sabbath till the Reformation. But the history of the case may be found elsewhere: I do not pretend to give it, and speak from memory. My object was to examine scripture on the subject, and that in connexion with the law, which is the really important point. The nature of Christianity depends upon it. Local controversy I should have left to those engaged in it. The true nature of Christianity concerns us all.

I do not accept by any means all Luther’s statements on the subject. I think he did not see complete deliverance. But what he has written shews clearly that he had come right into the principle I have spoken of: “But if thou wilt speak of the abolishment of the law, talk of it as it is in its own proper use and office, and as it is spiritually taken, and comprehend in that the whole law, making no distinction at all between the judicial, ceremonial, and moral;” “now Paul speaketh here especially of the abolishment of the moral law, which is diligently to be considered.” “And here Paul speaketh not of the ceremonial law only (as before we have remarked more at large), but of the whole law, whether it be ceremonial or moral, which to a Christian is utterly abrogate, for he is dead unto it: not that the law is utterly taken away; nay, it remaineth, liveth, and reigneth still in the wicked. But a godly man is dead unto the law, like as he is dead unto sin, the devil, death, and hell: which notwithstanding do still remain, and the world with all the wicked shall still abide in them. Wherefore when the Papist understandeth that the ceremonial law only is abolished, understand thou that Paul and every Christian is dead to the law, and yet the whole law remaineth still. As for example: Christ rising from death is free from the grave, and yet the grave remaineth still.” And then he enlarges. “Wherefore these words, I am dead to the law, are very effectual. For he saith not: I am free from the law for a time, or I am lord over the law; but simply, I am dead to the law, that is, I have nothing to do with the law … Now to die to the law is not to be bound to the law, but to be free from the law, and not to know it. Therefore let him that will live to God endeavour that he may be found without the law, and let him come out of the grave with Christ.”

Now it is perfectly true that the great object of Luther was justification by faith. But in pursuing this object he arrives at our being wholly dead to the law, nothing bound to it, not knowing it. He thought a man might get back under it, because he did himself; I do not. But this is another question. He takes a man as in Christ, wholly out of the law as much as Christ is now out of his grave, and the man from under law as Christ is now. “With this faith thou shalt mount up above and beyond the law, into that heaven of grace where is no law nor sin. And albeit the law and sin do still remain, yet they pertain nothing to thee; for thou art dead to the law and sin.” “Now if we be dead unto the law, then hath the law no power over us, like as it hath no power over Christ, who hath delivered us from the law that we might live unto God.” It is not all the truth that justification is continually running in his mind. He takes them wholly out of the law because it was death and condemnation, and they could not be justified if they were under it at all, because of its necessary character. He says the only thing he requires at your hands is this, that ye believe in Christ whom He has sent; and thus we are made perfect. “But if… ye will add laws, then assure yourself that all laws are comprehended in this commandment—Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Endeavour yourselves to keep this commandment, which, being kept, ye have fulfilled all law.”

I cite from his well known commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians.

20 It is a mistake to suppose that there was any promise to Adam at the fall. In the judgment on the serpent the revelation of the Last Adam3 the Seed of the woman, was given, and of His destroying the serpent’s power utterly. But the Seed of the woman is just what the first Adam was not. It is the revelation and promise of the Second.

21 How unsuited we should feel a command to Christ to love us or to love His Father! There were commands which tested the perfectness of His love, but none to love.

22 This is the name of christian relationship in eternal life, and was revealed by Christ even when here. Jehovah was the name of relationship for Israel, Almighty (El Shaddai) for the Patriarchs. The Most High will be God’s millennial name.

23 [That is, He anticipated Peter. Ed.]