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A Written Discussion ... Upon the Sabbath

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    ELDER PETER VOGEL’S SEVENTH NEGATIVE

    There still remain some points to be noticed in Eld. W.’s sixth affirmative. In trying to prove that Exodus 19 rather than 20 contains ‘the first covenant,’ he says, that ‘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.’ (1) The facts, however, are that the first covenant expired by limitation [Galatians 3:19]; and this puts a wholly different phase upon the matter. If non-fulfillment on the part of the people were to have been the cause of its termination, then there were frequent and much stronger reasons for its annulment long before Christ’s crucifixion than at that time. (2) We may call the first covenant an agreement, if we will, yet it was also a law-covenant, for it was ‘enacted’ or ‘legislated.’ This is by accommodation asserted of the ‘new covenant,’ and so by implication of the ‘old:’ Christ ‘is the mediator of the better covenant, which was established upon better promises.’ ‘Was established’ [Gr. nenomotheteetai, rendered ‘received the law,’ in ch. 7:11] is translated by Conybeare ‘is enacted.’ and by Rotherham ‘has been legislated.’ Hebrews 8:6. In this view of the first covenant I have with me also the mature judgment of Conybeare in his note on v. 9—‘the covenant which I gave unto their fathers.’ ‘It must be remembered,’ says he, ‘that the Greek word does not [like the English covenant] imply reciprocity. It properly means a legal disposition, and would perhaps be better translated dispensation here. A covenant between two parties is expressed by a different term.’ And thus are we irresistibly led to the decalogue as the first covenant. (3) It was owing to the ‘faultiness’ of the first covenant that it was abolished; though it was well adapted to the Jewish age, it was ‘faulty’ for the Christian age. We have already seen that it failed of perfection when fully kept [Matthew 19:21]; and Paul says, ‘If the first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second.’ Hebrews 8:7. The ‘finding fault with them’ of the next verse is altogether too slender a basis for so sweeping a conclusion as Bro. W. makes. He is certainly aware that the Greek construction is just as naturally expressed thus: ‘But finding fault, he saith to them;’ and this is McKnight’s version. Conybeare fully agrees with McKnight, and translates thus: ‘Whereas, He findeth fault, and saith unto them.’ He adds, in a note,” ‘findeth fault’ refers to the preceding ‘faultless.’ The pronoun should be joined with ‘saith.’” The expression, ‘Because [McKnight, when] they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not,’ is a brief allusion to the many defections of the Hebrews and to the punishment from God which followed each estrangement, showing the necessity of having laws written upon the heart and the ‘faultiness’ of having them written on tables of stone and statute books.WDUS 94.4

    What Eld. W. says concerning ‘the better promises’ of the new covenant has no practical bearing on the subject before us.WDUS 95.1

    What God, through Jeremiah, calls ‘my law’ He calls ‘my laws’ through Paul [Jeremiah 31:33; Hebrews 8:10]. To hold that this refers to the ten commandments-no more and no less-is a bare assumption. We will not thus allow Eld. W. to transfer the Sabbath from the tables of stone into the hearts of Christians. I have no wish to deface the least iota of morality taught by the ten commandments; but I wish also to recognize the fact that God has a ‘law’ which went ‘forth out of Zion’ [Isaiah 2:3], which is ‘His’ as well as that from Sinai. If the two are identical-standing because ordained of old-why was there a new ‘legislation?’ Be it remembered, however, that the new law is one of ‘liberty.’ And this law of liberty, when viewed as of God, may be called ‘the law of God.’WDUS 95.2

    My remarks on Romans 3:31 concerning the establishment of the entire Mosaic law in its ‘moral or basic principles’ has been ridiculed because it was misunderstood. I used ‘basic principles,’ not as equivalent to ‘constitution,’ but as referring to every moral principle of the Mosaic code, whether in the ten commandments or in other portions of the law.WDUS 95.3

    This attempt at ridicule reminds me of another which I passed by as unworthy of notice, but for the sake of some ought perhaps to consider. I can see nothing ‘crude’ in asserting that a man may be perfect and holy as measured by a given law, whether the law itself be perfect or not. If the law is absolutely perfect, so will be the one obeying it; but if the law be defective, he is nevertheless perfect as to that law, though imperfect as measured by another and perfect law. But, says Bro. W., ‘if we have any means of determining that a law is imperfect, the same means will determine that a character must be imperfect that is conformed to that law.’ True; but this is declaring a character imperfect by another law. And before God gave us the perfect standard of the gospel men had no means of declaring either the Jews or their law imperfect or ‘faulty.’WDUS 95.4

    Eld. W. must pardon me for reiterating the ‘crude’ statement that the Messiahship of Jesus is the constitution of the Christian church. Against the conclusion of all his reasonings and analogies between the priesthood and kingship of Christ and those of Aaron and David, I place the single declaration, “Upon this rock will I build ray church.’ That upon which we build is fundamental, organic, constitutional.WDUS 95.5

    To argue the present obligation of the ten commandments as given on Sinai, and hence of the sabbath from such passages as Revelation 11:19, 15:5-8, surprises me. ‘And the temple of God was opened in heaven’ would by the same logic prove the transfer of the Jewish temple from earth to heaven, to say nothing of the fact that ‘the ark of his testament’ contained the whole Mosaic code [Deuteronomy 31:26], and so would prove nothing abolished! Then think of ‘lightnings,’ ‘thunderings,’ great hail,’ and ‘earthquakes’ in heaven! Shall we next have a philosophy of the cause of these earthquakes?WDUS 95.6

    Respecting the antitype of the tabernacle, I must regard Eld W. as in error by construing ‘heavenly’ in Hebrews 8:5 as referring to a place rather than as descriptive of condition; or, if it must refer to a place, of taking it in too narrow a sense. ForWDUS 95.7

    1. The most holy place of both the tabernacle and the temple was, in the narrower sense of the word, a type of heaven [Hebrews 6:19-20; 9:8, 24] into which our High Priest has entered, not is to enter at some future time.WDUS 95.8

    2. The holy place was a type of the Christian Church. Acts 15:16-17; 1 Corinthians 3:16; 1 Timothy 3:15. As the High Priest officiates ‘within the vail’ so the priests officiate in the holy place [Hebrews 9:6-7]. Christians are priests [1 Peter 2:5-9], hence the Church is the holy place. This might be still further shown from the antitype of the furniture in the holy place, but I forbear with the remark that if the ‘candlestick’ or seven-armed lamp-stand typifies the Holy Spirit rather than the word of God, He is found in the Church. 1 Corinthians 3:16.WDUS 95.9

    The stress Eld. W. lays on the plural of Hebrews 9:24—‘holy places’—with the purpose of proving both holy places to be in heaven, results from insufficient attention to the subject. The Greeks often used the plural where in English only the singular is admissible. Thus the same word, and in the plural too, is rendered sanctuary in Hebrews 8:2; Hebrews 9:3; 13:11; and holy place in ch. 9:12, 25. Just as the word ‘tabernacle’ denotes sometimes both holy places, and at others either one or the other of them [ch. 9:2-3], so also does ta hagia [‘the sanctuary’ or the holies.]WDUS 95.10

    3. The cleansing of ‘the sanctuary’ [Daniel 8:14] has reference to affairs to transpire on earth at the destruction of Mahometanism. For as the little horn of Daniel 7 is a symbol of the Roman Catholic Hierarchy, so that of ch 8. is of Mahometanism; this their respective places of origin and spheres of influence prove.WDUS 96.1

    Everything in the tabernacle was a type, not excepting the ark and its contents; for as such or as given on Sinai the ten commandments were positive. Therefore we conclude again that to argue from the passages adduced by Eld. W. from Revelations, that by the ark and its contents these things are literally meant, is not only to proceed most arbitrarily, but is also wholly out of character without taking ‘the temple,’ ‘the smoke,’ ‘the hail,’ ‘the lightning,’ ‘the thunder,’ ‘the earthquake,’ etc., etc., as equally literal. This will suffice to show the absurdity of my brother’s interpretation of those passages in Revelations without taking time to give the true exposition. Besides, it is too near the close of this proposition to enter on such foreign matters.WDUS 96.2

    ‘The covenants and the giving of the law’ of Romans 9:4 refer to the two or three covenants made with Abraham, ‘pertaining’ to Israel, and to the ‘giving’ to them of the law-covenant.WDUS 96.3

    The ‘us’ to whom the lively oracles [Acts 7:38] were given, were Jews, among whom the circumcised Stephen classifies himself. The oracles were ‘living’ when given; and if they now [in this dispensation] live, it is in their moral aspect and as ‘all Scripture is profitable.’WDUS 96.4

    The words commanded to a ‘thousand generations’ are no stronger than ‘perpetual’ or ‘everlasting’ predicated of the Aaronic priesthood [Exodus 40:12-15], the passover and its feast [Exodus 12], circumcision [Genesis 17], the shew-bread [Leviticus 24:5-9], and a number of other things; and it is just as credible that the former, period has expired as that the latter have.WDUS 96.5

    If by ‘the commandments of God’ [in Revelation 14:12] one chooses to understand all the morality God has commanded, I shall not oppose him; but if he means to intimate that the ten commandments are the only commandments of God, or are here referred to as given on Sinai, I shall accuse him of begging the essential point. Christ gave commandments of his own; John 14:21; 15:10-14. Christ’s commandments are often called the commandments of God; John 12:49-50; 14:12; 1 Timothy 1:1; hence there are commandments of God which are not of the law; see also 1 John 3:21-24; Romans 16:26; Titus 1:3, and other places.WDUS 96.6

    Had I maintained that God was only a political ruler to the Jews, then the question, ‘Did the priests minister between Saul and the people, after he began to reign?’ would have been in order. But the fact is that the Jews did neither accept Saul as their religious sovereign nor reject God as to that relation, and yet they ‘rejected’ Him. In what relation, if not political?WDUS 96.7

    Nearly one-half of Eld. W.’s last article is devoted to Hebrew criticisms. Much of what he has to say relates only to one argument of the second proposition, and could be yielded without detriment to the main point at issue between us. Were his ‘great plainness of speech’ to be taken as argument, I should yield the point at once. For the sake of the common reader I wish to point out such misstatements as he can be judge of, and by these he may know what value to place upon the rest.WDUS 96.8

    1. I said nothing about ‘re-mention’ inconnection with the weekly sabbath.WDUS 96.9

    2. I did not ‘treat with raillery’ his saying that sabbath means rest, but used the word myself in that sense.WDUS 96.10

    3. My statement about his ‘holding on’ had not reference to his definition of sabbath, but to his persistency in Hebrew criticisms, dragging the second proposition into the third, in the face of his profession of not thrusting his scholarship before the reader. And I might have added, in the face of his challenge to discuss the use of the Greek article before the word ‘law.’WDUS 96.11

    4. He pronounces it egotism in me to accuse him of not understanding the Hebrew, when the fact is that I only paid him back in his own coin, as any one can see by reading his second affirmative. I wonder whether his style would have anything to do with making ‘Goliath die of envy.’WDUS 96.12

    With a few remarks bearing more directly on his criticisms, I submit the case.WDUS 96.13

    1. We need no array of instances where sabbath is used without the article. I have before said that I was aware of such occurrences. His statement that the predicate does not take the article I disproved by good authority; and I might have added such examples as Exodus 9:27, ‘the righteous [party],’ and 16:16, ‘the thing. It matters not how often sabbath occurs in the predicate without the article; the essential point is this: Why is the article absent in Exodus 16:23? Had the sabbath been a forgotten institution, and there again insisted on, the article would be necessary; and its absence agrees with the universal custom of introducing a new institution in an indefinite way. ‘In the language of living intercourse it is utterly impossible that the article should be omitted where it is decidedly necessary.’-Winer, Gram. p. 115.WDUS 96.14

    I will further add, that if the sabbath had been an existing institution during the Egyptian bondage, when the majority of the Hebrews served the Lord, the silence of the Scriptures would be wholly inexplicable, since with nothing else would their task-service have so much interfered, and complaint on this point would have been severe and specific.WDUS 97.1

    2. Seeing the necessity, on his supposition, of having the sabbatic institution definitely named in Exodus 16:23, Eld. W. says: ‘The reader will remember that I claimed it definite under this rule,’ namely, that the predicate does not take the article. This is another instance of drawing the very opposite conclusion yielded by the facts in the case. ‘A substantive with an article may be the predicate as well as the subject of a proposition, since even the predicate may be conceived of as a definite individual.—Winer, p. 114. That is, if the predicate has not the article it is not definite.WDUS 97.2

    3. Having signally failed in showing Exodus 16:23 parallel with Exodus 20:10 in the use of lamed, Eld. W. tries to draw ch. 16:25 into service. Unfortunately for him, however, that construction is often resorted to in place of the regular construct when ‘the first noun is indefinite and the second definite’ [Green, §257, 2]. Should he reply that this may be the case in Exodus 20:10, I answer, yes; but taken in its contextual connection the case is altered. This, no doubt, determined the king’s translators to render the first passage indefinitely and the second definitely. But if Eld. W. should insist on treating both alike, making each indefinite, be it so; my point stands sure.WDUS 97.3

    4. All that Eld. W. says in his paragraph marked 4, is made pointless by the fact that ween lamed is used ‘in its possessive sense’ it ‘may be substituted for the construct relation.’-Green, §257.WDUS 97.4

    5. The criticisms on Exodus 24:12 I dispose of briefly by simply re-asserting my position, and an appeal to the learned reader for its justness.WDUS 97.5

    THE SABBATH ABOLISHED

    I. Turning again to negative arguments, I insist upon it that the sabbath is a positive institution. (1) It is described by the same term, sabbath, which describes other positive institutions. (2) It is moreover admitted that sabbath often takes the article, when denoting the weekly institution, by way of preeminence over or emphatic distinction from the annual sabbaths. A moral and a positive institution are never distinguished in this way. And being positive, the sabbath passed away with the other positive institutions of the old economy.WDUS 97.6

    II. The sabbath is specially named as abrogated, in Colossians 2:16-17.WDUS 97.7

    III. The sabbath is here also declared to be a type, finding its antitype in the Christian dispensation. And, as Paul says, when the substance comes the shadow ceases.WDUS 97.8

    IV. Gentile Christians were not to keep the sabbath.WDUS 97.9

    1. It was nowhere enjoined upon them.WDUS 97.10

    2. They were specially exempted from keeping the positive institutions of the law. Acts 15:23-29; 21:20-25.WDUS 97.11

    3. They were particularly forbidden to observe Jewish days: ‘Ye observe days [weekly sabbaths], and months [new moons], and times [the Jewish festivals which included*The original publication had the spelling “incluped.” the annual sabbaths, Leviticus 23.], and years [sabbatic years]. I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labor in vain.’ Galatians 4:10-11.WDUS 97.12

    V. The sabbath was ‘against us’ and ‘contrary to us.’ This we have seen to be true of the entire decalogue, in that positive aspect in which it was given to the Jews, but it is particularly true of the sabbath.WDUS 97.13

    1. The sabbath had a relentless death-penalty attached to it (Exodus 31:14-15; 35:2), and in this it was ‘contrary’ to the genius of a dispensation of grace.WDUS 97.14

    2. No fire was to be kindled on the sabbath. Exodus 35:1-3. This marks the sabbath as not intended for universal observance, owing to the coldness of some of the countries in which Christians often live. It is ‘against us.’WDUS 97.15

    3. The sabbath was a sign between God and the Jews (Ezekiel 20:12; Exodus 31:12-18) and so was part of ‘the middle wall of partition’ which is ‘broken down.’ Ephesians 2:14.WDUS 98.1

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