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A Written Discussion ... Upon the Sabbath

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    Having introduced the third point in my argument, the perpetuity of the law, I shall notice a reference made by Elder Vogel, which will show how a person may be led astray by his theory and prepossessions. He says, “I also believe that ‘there is verily a disannulling of the commandment going before, for the weakness and the unprofitableness thereof.’ Hebrews 7:18. Here I may justly quote the language which he unjustly used. “This is a convenient way he has of begging the question by assuming that “the commandment there referred to was that of the Sabbath,” and “That my charge of Bro. V.’s begging the question is just is simply a matter of fact which any reader has the means to verify,” by reading Numbers 3:10 and parallel passages, wherein the service of priesthood was given exclusively to Aaron and his sons; and observing that Paul, in Hebrews 7, is arguing the change of priesthood from Aaron to Christ. Of course, in making this change of priesthood there must be, “of necessity a change also of the law.” Hebrews 7:12. For disregarding that law a King of Israel was smitten with leprosy; and Paul argued (what every one can see) that if that law remained, Christ, who was of the tribe of Judah, could not be recognized as a priest. This testimony of “our beloved brother, Paul,” has often been “wrested,” by applying it to that to which his words could have no possible reference.WDUS 61.7

    The relations of the two laws to which I have before referred, are not always kept in view, and this oversight gives rise to serious and fatal errors. Law is primary, but redemption is secondary. Law springs from the will and attributes of God; redemption is occasioned by the willfulness of man. Law must have existed, from the fact that the relation of Creator and creatures, of Governor and governed, existed. But redemption would not have been, had not sin come into the world. And we cannot have right ideas of secondary principles if we have no just ideas of their primaries. No man can so appreciate a pardon as to receive it in a right spirit and be benefited by it who has not just regard for the law which condemned him. Thus the gospel is often perverted to be a mere minister to selfishness because the law-the revelation of the divine will and the necessary basis of the gospel-is rejected.WDUS 62.1

    Laws grow out of principles; but principles are not laws. We can have no idea of the principles of any government, human or divine, except through its laws. There can be no difference between the attributes of God and the principles of his government. As God is just, justice must be a principle of his government; and it must unite with and have an influence over every other principle. So of love, of immutability, and of every divine attribute and perfection. We cannot conceive of his possessing an attribute which does not shine forth in his government. But as law is the revelation of principles and the basis of government, whatever applies to the government of God, applies, of course, to his law. Law is but the expression of his will, and his revealed will must be in harmony with his attributes. Considering that there is so close a relation between the divine law and the divine perfections, it is not strange that David prayed thus; “Open thou mine eyes that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.” Psalm 119:18.WDUS 62.2

    1. All that can be said in favor of law in the abstract can be applied to that law which God spake to Israel.WDUS 62.3

    As law is the foundation of government and the rule of action, it follows that character under the government is only determined by the law; and, of course, character is the counterpart of the law obeyed. A man’s character being known, it is known by what kind of a law he has walked. Or, conversely, knowing the nature of a law, it is easy to determine the character that will be developed by obeying it. Let us apply these truths to the law in question.WDUS 62.4

    (1.) Jehovah said to Israel if they would obey his voice they would be “a holy nation.” Exodus 19:6. It is impossible to become holy by obeying a law which is less than holy itself. A defect in the law would leave a defect in the character.WDUS 62.5

    (2.) “The law of God is perfect.” Psalm 19:7. Perfection in a law which is the outgrowth of the divine attributes is of that nature that it cannot be improved. Nor can it be duplicated by another law equally perfect, unless there are two distinct wills of God, emanating from distinct classes of attributes.WDUS 62.6

    (3.) “Fear God and keep his commandments, this is the whole duty of man.” Ecclesiastes 12:13. The word “man” is here used generically-it means the race. This testimony is of great importance. The whole duty of the race of man is comprehended in those commandments which God gave to Israel. And as that law contains man’s whole duty, man would not have come under condemnation if he had kept it. Of course he would have been justified by it. And again, it is the only law of its kind, for it is impossible to have two different laws, each containing the whole duty of moral agents; each containing the elements of justification before God.WDUS 62.7

    (4.) “The doers of the law shall be justified.” Romans 2:13. This certainly refers to the same law that is referred to in the scriptures quoted above; for a law which is perfect, which contains the whole duty of man, which will form a holy character, will certainly justify the doer; and no other would. These are a few of the high testimonials we gather from the scriptures in favor of that law which God gave to Israel. And the points which follow confirm this.WDUS 62.8

    2. As the will or law of God is the outgrowth of his attributes, it is the revelation of his own character, and is called his righteousness.WDUS 63.1

    (1.) We are commanded to be holy because God is holy; but he said to Israel that they would be holy if they obeyed his voice, or kept that law which he proclaimed to them. This is the nearest that a creature can possibly approach to God; to be perfectly conformed to his will, and to form a character in harmony with the revelation of his attributes.WDUS 63.2

    (2.) “All thy commandments are righteousness.” Psalm 119:172. This is but a fair conclusion from the evident truths here presented. This psalm, which in every verse contains a tribute to the law of God, says in verse 142, “Thy righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and thy law is the truth.” And verse 144, “The righteousness of thy testimonies is everlasting.” Also, verse 123, “The word of thy righteousness.”WDUS 63.3

    (3.) It is referred to in like manner in Isaiah 51:7: “Harken unto me, ye that know righteousness; the people in whose heart is my law.” His law is “the word of his righteousness.” In harmony with this are the words of Paul.WDUS 63.4

    (4.) “But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law.” Romans 3:21. Passing for the present the contingent relation brought to view in the first part of this verse and the context, we notice that the law witnesses to the righteousness of God. As a law which can justify the doer must contain the elements or principles of justification, that is, to be a complete, holy law; so a law, to be a witness to righteousness must itself be the exponent of righteousness; for a law cannot testify concerning principles which it does not embrace. A [original illegible] not forbid, nor justify that which it does not require. That the law is both a rule of righteousness, and an exposition of the righteousness of God, could not be more clearly and strongly stated than is here stated by the apostle.WDUS 63.5

    3. On the perpetuity of this law as a rule of righteousness, (the righteousness of God,) see Isaiah 51:6, “My righteousness shall not be abolished.” This can refer to but one of two things: a. To Jehovah’s own attributes, which, as a revelation, would be equivalent to saying that he would not commit suicide! b. To the law, which is the revealing of his character to man, and which is called his righteousness. This must be its meaning, and contains a timely rebuke to those who teach that it has been abolished, See Psalm 119:126, “It is time for thee, Lord, to work, for they have made void thy law.”WDUS 63.6

    4. On the law as the will of God.WDUS 63.7

    [1.] Psalm 40:8: “I delight to do thy will, O my God; yea, thy law is within ray heart.” As Jesus was here presented in prophecy, so was he in its fulfillment. He said he came not to destroy the law, Matthew 5:17. But he who teaches that he did destroy it [or abolish it, which is the same thing; for when a law is abolished nothing can be done to destroy it], makes the Savior’s actions contradict his words. As this is Elder V.’s position, I entreat him to pause in his work of presumption, and no longer cast such indignity upon the blessed Son of God. Jesus says it is of no avail to cry, “Lord, Lord,” to him, if ye do not the will of his Father; and that he will say to the rejected, “Depart from me, ye that work iniquity”—literally, workers of lawlessness, or law-breakers. Matthew 7:21-23.WDUS 63.8

    [2.] “My doctrine is not mine but his that sent me; if any man will do his will he shall know of the doctrine whether it be of God or whether I speak of myself.” John 7:16-17. I have said that the law springs directly from the will of God, but redemption was made necessary by the willfulness of man. One is primary; the other is secondary. Here Jesus confirms this view by giving the will of the Father as a test of the doctrines of the Son. The Gospel must be in harmony with the law of God or it is not from Heaven-not from God. The harmony between the Law and the Gospel is based on the unity of the Father and the Son. By these words of the Saviour the Jews would have been warranted in rejecting his doctrines, if they had conflicted with the revealed will of God; and so now should we reject every [so-called] gospel that does not harmonize with the laws of God. Such a “gospel” puts the Son in antagonism with the Father-it is not from above. But the decisive testimony on the will of God is that of Paul.WDUS 63.9

    [3.] “Behold thou art called a Jew, and restest in the law, and makest thy boast of God, and knowest his will, and approvest the things that are more excellent, being instructed out of the law.” Romans 2:17-18. This clearly confirms what I have said, that the law reveals the will of God. Now note: a. It is the law in which the Jew rested, and therefore it was the law that was given to Israel. b. It is the law of truth [see Psalm 119:142], for the Jew had “the form of knowledge and truth in the law.” Had he kept it he would have had the essence and power of the truth as well as the form, as we must judge from what has been said concerning the nature of this law, and as we shall see farther. c. It is a law which forbids stealing, adultery, and the worship of idols: verses 21-22. It is therefore a “tangible” law of “direct enforcement.” d. The breaking of this law dishonors God, verse 23. Yet some now so far depart from “the apostle’s doctrine” as to contend that that they dishonor God in the keeping of it! e. The breaking of this law neutralized the circumcision of the Jew, and destroyed its efficacy as a sign of righteousness, verse 25, chap. 4:11. f. If the Gentile keeps this law he will the preferred before the Jew; verse 27. g. There is righteousness in this law which could make the Gentile a “Jew inwardly,” and count his uncircumcision for circumcision; verses 26-29; that is, to secure to the gentile a covenant interest in the promises to Abraham, which are the blessings of the gospel; Genesis 17. Of course the law is the basis of the Abrahamic covenant, as will be more fully shown hereafter. h. It is a law which will justify the doer; verse 13. i. And all these words the Apostle applies in this dispensation. Here is a mass of evidence too plain to be controverted.WDUS 63.10

    5. That this law is the rule of the judgment is farther proved in Romans 3, where it is said the Jews received “the oracles of God.” Stephen said in Acts 7:38, that Moses received “the lively oracles to give unto us.” These are the “living oracles.” Paul says that the chief benefits of the calling and separation of the Jews was that the oracles of God were intrusted to them; and from them we are to receive them. And he proceeds to show that if the unbelief of the Jews made the faith of God [faithfulness, truth] of no effect, God could not judge the world; Romans 3:1-6. Solomon also said the commandments of God should be kept because “God will bring every work into judgment.”WDUS 64.1

    6. The Gentiles were and are amenable to this law. Paul says of both Jews and Gentiles that “they are all under sin;” Romans 3:9; and to prove it he quotes from the Old Testament. It needs but little if any argument to show that quotations from the scriptures given to Israel would not prove the Gentiles sinners unless they were amenable to the law contained therein. Any amount of quotations from the statutes of England would not prove me guilty of wrong in the United States, because their jurisdiction does not extend here. This is a question of jurisdiction. When the apostle declares that “all the world” are proved guilty by the law, Romans 3:19, we know there can be no limitation to the term “world,” because this is a conclusion drawn from the previous evidence that Jews and Gentiles are on a level and are all proved sinners by the same testimony. His quotations were entirely without point, and his conclusions erroneous if, as many now affirm, “the law” did not reach the Gentiles. And this is in harmony with the evidence of Romans 2, and other yet to be given.WDUS 64.2

    7. Men are proved sinners by the law. This is both the statement of a truth, and the necessary conclusion from the proofs given. “By the law is the knowledge of sin.” Romans 3:20. But this could not be true if the law is abolished, as Eld. Vogel teaches. I have shown that there was a distinction between the law and the sacrifices and offerings. Had no sin existed no sacrifices would have been required. But “where no law is there is no transgression.” They exist in the following order; 1st. The law. 2ndly. Transgression. 3rdly. Sacrifice for sin. But the types of the past dispensation represent the relation we sustain to the offering of Christ in this; and the difference between the law which makes known sin, and the system of remedy for sin, is as clear and distinct in this dispensation as it was in that. In a word, the law, by which is the knowledge of sin, and the gospel, which is the remedy for sin, are as distinct as two systems can be. And the perpetuity of the law is fully and sufficiently proved by this declaration that it is the instrument which points out sin. While that is a revealed truth, they who argue for the abolition of the law strike at the foundation of truth—at the very life of the gospel itself. For the gospel—good news of salvation, redemption, pardon—is a nullity if it has not the pre-exiting law as its basis.WDUS 64.3

    Every evidence and reason here produced, and that shall hereafter be produced, shows the unsoundness of Eld. Vogel’s theory of law, and the basis of my premises and conclusions based on his view of Deuteronomy 5:15. If the law which was given to Israel had no previous existence, if it did not reach the Gentiles, then it cannot be proved that the Gentiles were under legal obligation; that they were the subjects of the government or of the judgment. And this conclusion which I deduced from the Old Testament [and which Eld. V. virtually endorsed], is plainly stated in the New Testament.WDUS 65.1

    But few points in Eld. Vogel’s second negative require notice; they will be attended to in due time.WDUS 65.2

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