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SUNDAY AND THE LAW
We observe this day as a law of the land, and with rejoicing and thankfulness for so favorable a time for worship and study. But we do not keep it for the Jewish Sabbath, nor as the Jew was required to keep it under the Law Covenant. Why? Simply because we are not under the Law Covenant, and we are not subject to any man’s judgment, in meat, or in drink, or in respect to a holy day, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath day, “which are a shadow of things to come.” Col. 2:17.
The law was but one law (not ten), and to break one of its parts is to be guilty of all. It promised life everlasting to all who kept it, but none of Adam’s sons or daughters ever kept it, and all die. It is a perfect law. All its requirements are holy, just and good, and it requires the full measure of a perfect man’s ability to keep it. God knew, but the Jew did not know, that when he—the Jew, agreed to that covenant he signed his own death warrant; and it was said unto them, “Ye cannot serve the Lord.” He will not forgive sin. But they accepted the terms, and witnessed against themselves. Josh. 26:19-22.
“The law made nothing perfect,” and was disannulled on account of its weakness or unprofitableness in this respect (Heb. 7:18,19) because of man’s weakness and inability. God could not fit a law down to their condition. He could give no other than a perfect law. He could not look upon sin with any degree of allowance, and his law could not therefore give life to the being who failed of obedience in one point; he was guilty of all (James 2:10). “For if there could have been a law given that could have given life, verily righteousness (and hence life) should have been by the law” (Gal. 3:21). But as we have shown, there could no such law be given, and there was “none righteous, no not one” (Psalm 14:1-3; Rom. 3:10)—none up to the standard of perfection required by the law; hence not approved by it as worthy of life everlasting.
“Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions (for how long?), till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made” (Gal. 3:19). By that time it had served its purpose. It was a ministration of death written in stones (2 Cor. 3:6-17). The Jews were placed under the “letter” of it, and the world has witnessed its enforcement upon them.
The common impression is that the “letter” of the law is much more lenient than the spirit of it, but from our last reference (in Corinthians) Bro. Paul affirms the contrary. “The letter killeth.” How glad we are that we are not under the letter of it (as the Jew was), for we could no more keep it than could the Jew. “For by the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified in his sight.” None but our Lord ever could claim life under the law. He was of another life germ than the Adamic, though born of a woman. Made under the law, he magnified the law and made it honorable by showing that it was good and right, and that a perfect being can keep it and delight therein.
The world of mankind will not be placed under the “letter” of the law actually as the Jew was typically until in the Millennial Age under the new covenant, when God “shall take away their sins.” Then ability will be given to keep it, as implied by the process of writing it “upon their heart,” “in their mind,” on their nature, as in the first perfect man, and not on tables of stone, as in the type. Then none need say to his neighbor, “Know ye the Lord?” for his image will be in small and great. The vail which hides the liberation from this ministration of death under the old, and obscures the glories of the new covenant, is yet upon the heart of the Jew and the world. “Nevertheless, when it shall turn to the Lord the vail shall be taken away.” 2 Cor. 3:16. See Jer. 31:29-34.
H. L. GILLIS.
— December, 1885 —