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A Written Discussion ... Upon the Sabbath

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    ELDER J. H. WAGGONER’S SIXTH AFFIRMATIVE

    Elder Vogel’s fifth negative contains some things which do me great injustice, and I have questioned whether it is not duty to notice them now, but decide to continue my argument.WDUS 83.7

    14. The law is God’s covenant commanded. The word covenant is extensive in signification. Says Greenfield, “Diatheekee, any disposition, arrangement, institution, or dispensation; hence, a testament, will; a covenant, i. e., mutual promises on mutual conditions, or promises with conditions annexed;” by metonymy a body of laws and precepts, that is, to which certain promises are annexed. I quote at this length to show to how many things the word covenant may be applied. Care is, of course, necessary to make a proper application of any text to its subject where the word is used; as the word itself designates no one particular thing, the connections alone will determine its use in any instance.WDUS 83.8

    There are many covenants spoken of in the Bible, but only one as God’s covenant commanded; that is, the ten commandments. It is the condition of other covenants, as see Greenfield above, both of the old and new. Some points I will notice.WDUS 83.9

    (1.) It was not the old covenant or first covenant made with Israel, but the condition of that covenant. To show how one covenant (agreement) may stand related to another covenant (law), I quote. 2 Kings 23:3: The neglected book of the law was found in the house of the Lord, “And the king stood by a pillar and made a covenant before the Lord, to walk after the Lord, and to keep his commandments and his testimonies, and his statutes, with all their heart and all their soul, to perform the words of this covenant that were written in the book. And all the people stood to the covenant.” They made a covenant (agreement) to perform the words of the covenant (law) written in the book. And thus it was with the covenant which the Lord made with Israel, which is found in Exodus 19:5-8. The Lord told Moses to convey to Israel the following words: “If ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people; for all the earth is mine; and ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel. And Moses came and called for the Elders of the people, and laid before their faces all these words which the Lord commanded him. And all the people answered together and said, All that the Lord hath spoken we will do.”WDUS 83.10

    Here was a plain covenant or agreement which the Lord made with the children of Israel; it was concerning his covenant, or the words of his voice which they had not yet heard. Three days hereafter the Lord spake in the hearing of all Israel, from Sinai. Of this Moses said to them, “And the Lord spake unto you out of the midst of the fire; ye heard the voice of the words, but saw no similitude; only ye heard a voice. And he declared unto you his covenant which he commanded you to perform, even the ten commandments; and he wrote them upon two tables of stone.” Deuteronomy 4:12-13. After the people had heard the voice of God declaring his covenant, so that, they fully understood the condition of the covenant made with them, they ratified or renewed their covenant saying to Moses, “All that the Lord hath said will we do and be obedient.” And Moses sprinkled the blood of the offering upon the people in token of the ratification of the covenant, saying, “Behold the blood of the covenant which the Lord hath made with you, concerning all these words.” Exodus 24:7-8.WDUS 84.1

    That Eld. Vogel entirely misapprehends the words of Moses in Deuteronomy 5:2-5 is easily seen in the light of these facts. Moses said, “The Lord our God made a covenant with us in Horeb. The Lord made not this covenant with our fathers, but with us, even us, who are all of us here alive this day.” This covenant I have quoted from Exodus 19. He adds, “The Lord talked with you face to face on the mount, out of the midst of the fire.” The Lord talked with them when he declared his covenant which he commanded them to perform; but not when he made the covenant with them; to this the parenthesis, v. 5 refers. (“I stood between the Lord and you at that time to show you the word of God.”) This is true of what is recorded in Exodus 19, but not true of Exodus 20, for then the Lord spoke to them directly; they “heard his voice.” Thus, there are two things brought to view in Deuteronomy 5, and the parenthetical words of v. 5 refer to verses 2, 3, the covenant made with Israel, but not to verse 4 and onward, for the covenant commanded was given by God himself, without the agency of Moses. Eld. V. confounds these, though they are so distinct in the Scriptures.WDUS 84.2

    Note again the case of Josiah, “The covenant written in the book” was binding upon them before Josiah made a covenant to keep it; and also, the written covenant would remain of force if they failed to regard the covenant they had made. The covenant written in the book did not at all depend on the covenant made by the king and the people. And so of that in Exodus 19. God’s covenant of moral obligation, forbidding idolatry, profanity, murder, etc, and guarding the two sacred institutions erected in Eden, the sabbath and marriage, was binding whether or not Israel agreed to keep it. Their covenanting to keep it did not add to its force; their failure to keep it did not detract from its morality, its authority, or its perpetuity.WDUS 84.3

    (2.) God’s covenant was also the condition of the promises to Abraham. The covenant God made with Israel was one of mutual promises on conditions, according to the primary significations given by Greenfield. But the law of God as the condition of that covenant is also by metonymy called a covenant. And it has always this metonymical use when connected with promises or agreements, as in 1 Chronicles 16:15-18. “Be ye mindful always of his covenant, the word which he commanded to a thousand generations; which he made with Abraham, and of his oath to Isaac; and hath confirmed the same to Jacob for a law, and to Israel for an everlasting covenant, saying, Unto thee will I give the land of Canaan.” Here the relation of the law and the promise is distinctly stated; the law of course being the basis or condition of the promise. In Genesis 26:1-5 we find the very things here referred to. Said the Lord to Isaac, “Sojourn in this land and I will be with thee, and will bless thee; for unto thee and unto thy seed will I give all these countries, and I will perform the oath which I sware unto Abraham thy father, ... Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.” Here is the same relation recognized; the promise has the law for its condition. And we are left in no doubt as to what law or commandments are here referred to, as the Lord said in 1 Chronicles 16, as quoted, that this promise of the land to Abraham and to Isaac was conditioned on the word which he commanded to a thousand generations, and that he confirmed the same to Jacob for a law, and to israel for an everlasting covenant. Every candid reader must see that this fully justifies the conclusion I drew from Paul’s words, that the curse of the law must be removed from us that we may inherit the blessing of Abraham. As the law is the condition of those blessings, they who are its transgressors, and therefore under its curse, cannot inherit those blessings. But “the blessing of Abraham” is identical with the blessing of the gospel, and we stand related to God’s covenant commanded to a thousand generations just as did Abraham.WDUS 84.4

    This expression-commanded to a thousand generations-denotes perpetuity. As the Lord said in the law, “showing mercy to thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments.” Not that it will be confined to any number; it would be just as true if millions were inserted.WDUS 85.1

    (3.) The first covenant was useless and void, because the people did not fulfill it; and this will apply to an agreement, but will not apply to a law. An agreement (covenant) is nullified by a failure on either part to fulfill it: but a law is not weakened, nor changed in character, by failure on the part of subjects to obey it. Neither the nature, the authority, nor the perpetuity of a law is affected by disobedience; the effect is solely on the transgressor. That the” agreement” was the first covenant, is shown by the words of the Lord in the promise of the new covenant. “Finding fault with them” (not with the law) he said he would make a new covenant with them, not according to the one he made with their fathers when he brought them out of Egypt, “which my covenant they brake, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord.”WDUS 85.2

    (a.) They agreed to obey his voice and keep his covenant.WDUS 85.3

    (b.) For which he promised to regard them as a peculiar treasure to himself.WDUS 85.4

    The failure of this covenant is directly recognized in the promise of the new.WDUS 85.5

    (a.) “They continued not in my covenant”—they did not fulfill their agreementWDUS 85.6

    (b.) “And I regarded them not, saith the Lord”—he therefore refused to fulfill his promise. Indeed, it was impossible for him to regard them according to the covenant of Exodus 19; for he he promised to regard them as a “holy nation,” “a peculiar treasure above all people.” But if they would not regard his moral law—the rule of holiness—they would not be holy; they would be sinners as all the nations, and if God should continue to regard them as holy, contrary to their real characters, he would deny himself. It is evident from this contrast of the two covenants that the first covenant is found in Exodus 19.WDUS 85.7

    (4.) The new covenant “was established upon better promises.” There can be no richer blessing than to be counted ‘holy’ in the sight of God; to be ‘a peculiar treasure above all people’ to the Lord, and so far there could be no better promises. But these promises related only to obedience; in the first covenant made with Israel there was no provision for non-fulfillment, and the ‘ministration’ under that covenant, the priestly service with the blood of bulls and goats, could not take away sin; therefore no promise of forgiveness was included in that covenant. But as our Priest has blood that will cleanse from moral guilt, forgiveness is offered in the covenant of which he is mediator; and the promises to be ‘merciful to their unrighteousness,’ and to ‘remember their sins no more,’ are the ‘better promises’ of the new covenant.WDUS 85.8

    (5.) But I have shown that forgiveness of sin or justification is never connected with transgression of the law or continuance in sin; and therefore with forgiveness is associated the promise, ‘I will put my law in their hearts and write it in their minds.’ And if the law is in their heart it will insure future obedience, The Savior delighted to do the will of God because the law was in his heart. Psalm 40. And so Paul called the law of God ‘the law of my mind,’ and said he delighted in it. He was fully converted, and the promise of the new covenant was fulfilled in him. Eld. Vogel says, “In one condition the law would be a ‘delight;’ in the other ‘a yoke of bondage.”’ This expression, ‘a yoke of bondage,’ is never in the Scriptures referred to the moral law, but to those ceremonies which did not reach the conscience. But I accept his general idea, and will let Paul testify as to the conditions of the parties. It was after his conversion that he delighted in the law, Romans 7; while the enmity and insubordination to the law is found in the ‘carnally minded,’ Romans 8. And my most solemn conviction is that Eld. V. would be doing better service to his readers to call upon them to examine their own hearts to see whether they are with Paul in his experience, or in the other condition.WDUS 85.9

    Here I am reminded of Eld. Vogel’s holding up to ridicule my saying that ‘under the law’ describes the condition of those under condemnation. Yet all must confess that all who are ‘under the law’ are under condemnation, and will so remain till redeemed from its curse. Now as the law condemns all sinners, and all have sinned, it is easy to see that they who trust in their own works for salvation, choose their own condemnation. As well might he ridicule the idea of certain ones’ loving death; Proverbs 8:36. or that Israel should choose to die; Ezekiel 33:11. Death is not in their desire or affection, but they choose the course which leads to it. Eld. Vogel’s own course is an illustration of the same principle. Paul says the carnal mind is not subject to the law; and while Eld. V. denies the evident conclusion, he is making most strenuous efforts to prove that he is of that class.WDUS 86.1

    All the direct proofs that I have brought from the N. T. on the perpetuity of the law, and its being the condition of the Abrahamic covenant, are proofs that the law must be written in the hearts of those in the new covenant-all the children of Abraham. And as ‘the law is spiritual,’ it must be in the hearts of all who worship God ‘in spirit and in truth.’ The error of the opposition is in perverting Paul’s words as if he said the new covenant ‘was established upon a better law.’ But that could not be; for a law cannot be better than holy, perfect, just, spiritual, etc. If the objection be raised that it will not justify the sinner, I answer that moral rules cannot do that in any dispensation. But for the violation of moral law a system of pardon-an amnesty of special or positive enactments-must be provided. But pardon is conditioned on future obedience of moral law; the gospel provides for ‘remission of sins that are past;’ Romans 3:23-26. Indulgence of sins future belongs to ‘another gospel’ emanating from Rome.WDUS 86.2

    (6.) As God’s covenant commanded, the ten commandments stand alone, separated from all other laws. Jehovah spoke only the ten commandments in the hearing of all the people with his own voice. He wrote only the ten commandments on the tables of stone. Eld. Vogel’s reply to the question why God wrote no more on the stone is: “constitutions are usually better cared for than other laws.” This answer meets my mind exactly, and thus by the light of truth is he compelled to yield his oft-repeated assertion that it was all one law; which is, in effect, to yield the whole issue. And on Romans 3:31, he says: “If we accept the common version here the allusion is to the entire Mosaic code with especial reference to its moral or basic principles.” Which is to say that the entire Mosaic code is not made void, but especially its basic principles are not made void! Does anybody call this reasoning? But what are its ‘basic principles’ if not its ‘constitution?’ And twice he has said the ten commandments were the constitution of that system. But he wants a contrast, and where does he find it? Listen; “The New Dispensation has the Messiahship of Jesus for its basis or constitution.” If anything were wanting to prove that Eld. Vogel has never reached to even the faintest conceptions of the principles of government, we have it here. Christ is mediator of the new covenant, and this is the constitution of the new covenant! Just as much as the priesthood of Aaron was the constitution of the former. Or, accepting all of his theory of the church [which we cannot], we should then say that the priesthood of Aaron, and the kingship of David, were the constitution of the past dispensation! Both the priesthood and the kingship were parts of the administration of government, the whole being based upon a constitution; and so in this: Christ is ‘mediator between God and man.’ and Eld. Vogel has no better idea of governmental relations than to call this the constitution! And all his theory and all his arguments are based upon such crude notions as this.WDUS 86.3

    Again, only the ten commandments were placed in the ark, over which the priest sprinkled blood to make atonement. The work of the priest was [not the constitution itself! but] in reference to the constitution, for by this were the people condemned. Had there been no constitution the work of the priest would have been an idle, senseless ceremony. And if the priests of that dispensation had had blood to offer which could have taken away sin, there would have been no occasion for Christ to minister ‘for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant.’ Hebrews 9:15. Their transgressions were a fact-they violated a moral law; but the ‘ministration’ was only ‘a figure;’ it took away no sin, and of course their sins stand against them and will meet them in the judgment if Christ does not blot them out. But as ‘sin is not imputed when there is no law,’ of course, again, the law is of force and will meet them in the judgment. Ecclesiastes 12:13-14.WDUS 87.1

    Those priests ‘served unto the example and shadow of heavenly things,’ Hebrews 8:1-5; and when we are permitted by faith to have a view of the heavenly things, there is ‘seen in his temple the ark of his testament.’ Revelation 11:19. Our High Priest must also have a ‘constitution’ over which to officiate.WDUS 87.2

    I regret that my limits do not permit me to finish this argument in the present number.WDUS 87.3

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