Nov 5, 2008

Campbell on the Law II

Campbell wrote:

"Good has been often called evil, and evil good. Truth has been piously called error, and error truth. Pure religion has frequently been called heresy, and heresy pure religion. Paul had to confess that he worshipped God in the way which the populars called heresy. So we frankly confess, that some of our views have been by the populars called heretical and blasphemous. Because we have said, that we christians are not under Moses, but under Christ; not under the law as a rule of life, but under the gospel, we are said to have spoken "blasphemous words against Moses and the law." Because we have said that the Jewish sabbath is no more, we are represented as without religion, profane and impious; and, because we have called much of what is called warm preaching, and warm feelings, and great revivals, enthusiasm; we are said to deny "experimental religion" or the influence of the Holy Spirit, by the word, upon the minds of believers. "Yes," say our enemies, "you deny the moral law, the christian Sabbath and experimental religion."

To the first of these charges we shall, in the present address, call your attention, reserving the others for a future day.

The "moral law," or decalogue, is usually plead as the rule of life to believers in Christ, and it is said that it ought to be preached "as a means of conviction of sin." The scriptures never divide the law of Moses into moral, ceremonial, and judicial. This is the work of schoolmen, who have also divided the invisible world into heaven, hell, and purgatory; who have divided the obedience of Christ into active, passive, and both; who have divided the members of the church into speechless babes, seekers of religion and regenerated saints; who have divided the kingdom of heaven, or christian kingdom, into clergy, ruling elders, and laity; and who have philosophized, allegorized, and mysticized christianity into an incomprehensible and ineffable jargon of christianized paganism and Judaism.

We published, seven years ago, a speech pronounced to an association on this subject, in which we objected to this division of the law; the substance of which, if we recollect right, was this: we objected to this division of the law, First, because it was unauthorized by either the Old or New Testament, i. e. neither God by Moses, his Son Jesus Christ, nor his apostles, had ever made such a division. They always spoke of the law as one grand whole. "The law was given by Moses, but the grace and the truth by Jesus Christ." "The law and the prophets continued until John the Baptist." "You are not under the law," &c. &c. Here is no moral, ceremonial or judicial law, but "the law." Secondly, because this division of the law perplexes the mind of a student of the bible, who, while he meets the words "the law," is puzzled to know which of the three is meant; whereas, if he would always view the phrase "the law," when not otherwise defined, as the one and undivided law of Moses, he would never be perplexed. Because, in the third place, this division is illogical or incorrect, as respects the moral and judicial laws. All writers and speakers we have either heard or seen, blend, in their expositions, moral and judicial precept, making the latter as moral as the former. They have no palpable or distinguishable criteria of distinction. Because, in the fourth place, they represent the ten commands as the moral law; whereas they tell us that the law contained two tables: the former teaching religion, or our duty to God; the second teaching morality, or our duty to our neighbor. This moral law, then, is both moral and religious; for these same divines distinguish religion and morality. In the fifth place, because one precept of this moral law was as ceremonial as any item in their ceremonial law, viz: the fourth commandment. For these reasons and others, we objected then to this division of the law. We have never heard any thing said, though much has been said on that subject, of the least weight to change our views delivered at that time.

But, without going further into the detail on this part of the subject, we proceed to observe, that Moses, the great lawgiver to the Jews, delivered this law as a rule of life to the Jews only; and it was all equally important to them, and binding upon them. It was all holy, just, and good, as respected its design; and was equally divine and authoritative. He that touched the ark died the death, as well as he who stole the golden wedge. He that offered strange fire upon the altar was consumed, as well as he that cursed his father.

He that gathered fuel on the Sabbath, and he that blasphemed the God of Israel, were devoted to the same destruction. But the law of Moses was given for a limited time. The world was about twenty-five hundred years old before it was given; "for until the law sin was in the world," and this law was designed only to continue till the promised seed should come, the great Law-giver. Moses pointed Israel to this great Law-giver. Malachi told the Jews to remember this law until Elias should come. The Messiah said plainly, "that the law and the prophets preached till John." But, "since that time, the kingdom of God was preached." Paul repeatedly affirms that christians are not under the law, but under the gospel, as a rule of life. In teaching the Jews he compared the law to a school-master until Christ came; but since faith or Christ came, he assured them they were no longer under the school-master. He declared they "were delivered from the law"--"they were free from its" "they were dead to it." He says, "it is done away"--"it is abolished"--"it is disannulled."

Moses had a brother of great dignity, of illustrious fame, whose name was Aaron. This brother of the lawgiver was divinely ordained a high priest, and divine laws ordained concerning him and his successors. In process of time the son of Jesse was crowned king over Israel, under God, who still retained the sovereignty. Concerning this David and his successors divine laws were published. Israel were under Moses as a lawgiver, under Aaron as high priest, under
David as king. These three were types of Christ as lawgiver, priest, and king. Now the populars and we agree in one grand point on this topic. They say that "Jesus Christ is our only prophet, priest, and king." To this we cordially and fully agree. Therefore, we will not submit to Moses as our prophet or lawgiver, to Aaron as our high priest, to David as our king. If we would yield to Moses as our lawgiver, we would yield to his brother Aaron as our high priest, and to the son of Jesse as our king. We honor Moses, Aaron, and David. We study their history, their offices, and their deeds. We revere them as Messiah's types. We will treat them with every due respect; but will not put ourselves under them. While we acknowledge Jesus to be the great lawgiver, the great prophet, the great high priest, David's son, and David's king, we are assured that every part of Moses' law worthy of our regard has been republished and reenacted under more glorious circumstances and with more illustrious sanctions by him--that every item of Aaron's priesthood has been fulfilled by him--that every excellent trait in the character and government of David has been exhibited by him, free from imbecility and imperfection. Messiah, you are my only prophet, priest, and king; for you are worthy!

"Then," say the populars, "you have no moral law as a rule of life--no preaching of the law as a means of conviction of sin; you may live as you list--your doctrine is licentious--it is antinomian--it is dangerous to morale--to piety--to all good."
JANUARY 5, 1824.

Address to the Readers of the Christian Baptist. No. III

I agree with Campbell on all this, of course. It does not mean, however, that I endorse his errors.

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