The Gospel in Galatians - EJ Waggoner

An Answer to Elder Butler's Pamphlet on the Law in the Book of Galatians

EXPLANATORY NOTE

This letter was written at the date indicated, but for certain reasons it was thought best to delay sending it out. Chief among these reasons wasej waggoner the fear of seeming to act precipitately in the matter, and the desire to counsel with others of larger experience. The delay of nearly two years has given ample time to carefully review the subject again and again, and to avoid any appearance of heated controversy. It is thought best, even at this late day, to send the matter out in the form of a letter, as originally written. It will be understood, of course, that this does not purport to be an explanation of the book of Galatians; that would require a book many times the size of this. I have here endeavored merely to correct some erroneous views, so that those who read may be prepared to study the epistle to the Galatians with more profit than heretofore. It should also be stated that this little book is not published for general circulation. It is designed only for those in whose hands Elder Butler’s pamphlet on Galatians was placed, and perhaps a few others whose minds have been specially exercised on the subject. No one can be more anxious than the writer, to avoid everything of a controversial nature in matters intended for the general public. That this letter may tend to allay controversy, to help to bring the household of God into the unity of the faith as it is in Christ Jesus, and to hasten the time when the servants of God shall see eye to eye, is the only desire of the writer. E. J. W

INTRODUCTION

OAKLAND, Cal., February 10, 1887.
TO ELDER GEO. I. BUTLER, Battle Creek, Mich.—

Dear Brother:
The matter of the law in Galatians which received some attention at the late General Conference, has been upon my mind a good deal, and doubtless many have thought of it since then more than before. I very much regretted that every moment of time was so occupied that we could have no conversation upon the subject. It is true the matter was discussed to a very limited extent in the meetings of the Theological Committee, but of course the little that could be said under the circumstances was not sufficient to give any satisfaction to any party concerned. I know that you are at all times exceedingly busy, and I myself have no time to squander; but this matter is of very great importance, and has received so much attention that it cannot by any possibility be ignored now.

You remember that I stated that there were some points in your pamphlet which seemed to me to indicate that you had misunderstood my position. I therefore wish to note a few of them. Before taking up any of the details, I wish to say first, that, as I assured you when in Battle Creek, I have not the slightest personal feeling in this matter. What I have written in the Signs has been with the sole design of doing good, by conveying instruction on an important Bible subject. I have not written in a controversial manner, but have particularly avoided anything of that nature. It has been my aim on this subject, as well as on others, to write in such a way as not to arouse combativeness in any, but to present simple Bible truth, so that the objections would be taken out of the way before the person could make them.

Second, it is not possible that in noting a few of the points in your pamphlet I could properly present my own position. To do that I should want to take up the book of Galatians without any reference to what anybody else had said upon it. In my articles in the Signs I have mentioned only a few points that might seem to be objections to the law, and which are often quoted as showing its abolition, to show that they are really the strongest arguments for the perpetuity of the law.

I wish to say also that I think great injustice has been done in the allusions that have been made to the Instructor lessons. If it were simply injustice to me, it would be a matter of small consequence. But discredit was thrown upon the lessons, which would materially weaken the influence of the important subject upon which they treated, and this too when not a text used in the lessons was given a different application from that which has been held by those at least of our people who have written upon the same subject. Every position taken in those lessons is perfectly in harmony with works published by our people, and may be read therefrom. This was proved before the committee. And I have no knowledge that any different view on any text used in those lessons was ever printed by our people before the appearance of your pamphlet. This being the case, I honestly think that justice demands that on this subject at least the impressions conveyed in your pamphlet should be as publicly corrected.

As to the propriety of publishing the matter in the Signs when I did, I have nothing to say. Whatever censure is due on that score, I willingly take, as I already have. But I wish to say that nothing that has been said or written has in the least degree shaken my confidence in the truthfulness of what I published in the Signs. Those positions I hold to and rejoice in to-day more strongly than ever.

I wish also most earnestly to protest against the accusation that I have made the Signs, much less the Instructor, a medium for taking an unfair advantage of any of our people. Quotations that will appear further on, will show that I am not the one who has departed from the standard works of our people.

 

CIRCUMCISION

I will now proceed to notice a few points in the pamphlet, taking them up in the order in which they come. On page 8 you say:—

“The Lord chose Abraham and his descendants to be His peculiar people. They were such till the cross. He gave them the rite of circumcision—a circle cut in the flesh—as a sign of their separation from the rest of the human family.”

This seeming misapprehension of the nature of circumcision appears throughout your pamphlet. It seems strange that it should be so, when the apostle Paul speaks so plainly concerning it. In Romans 4:11 I read of Abraham:

“And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised; that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also.”

The fitness of this rite as a sign of righteousness will readily appear to anybody who understands the physical evils against which circumcision is a guard. At the present time it is often performed by physicians as a preventive of physical impurity. It was practiced for this purpose by many nations of antiquity. Herodotus (2:37) says of the Egyptians: “They practice circumcision for the sake of cleanliness, considering it better to be cleanly than comely.” Professor Von Orelli, of Basel, says in the Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia: “The custom is also found among nations which have no traceable connection with any form of ancient civilization; as for instance, among the Congo negroes and Caffrarians in Africa, the Salivas Indians in South America, the inhabitants of Otaheite and the Fiji Islands, etc.” He adds: “The Arabs of today call the operation tutur tahir, purification.”

I think that among the Jews as a class the rite exists today only as a preventive of physical impurity. I was present when it was performed by an eminent rabbi of San Francisco, and he said that that was all it was for. In this, as in everything else, the Jews have lost all knowledge of the spiritual meaning of their ceremonies. The veil still remains over their hearts. But that cutting off of the cause of physical impurity signified the putting off of the impurity of the heart, which was accomplished by faith in Christ. See Deuteronomy 10:16, and many other texts, for proof that circumcision had from the beginning this deeper meaning.

The question will naturally arise, If circumcision was practiced by other people, why did everybody despise the Jews because of it? I answer that the hatred was due, not to the mere fact of circumcision, but to that which it signified among the pious Jews. “The wicked plotteth against the just, and gnasheth upon him with his teeth.” Psalm 37:12. “All they that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” And this is true of all time. As proof that the uncircumcised heathen hated the Jews solely on account of their righteousness, and not on account of their circumcision, we have only to note how ready they were to mingle with the Jews, whenever they could seduce them into idolatry. If the Jews would relax their strictness of living, would depart from God, and serve other gods, the heathen had no objections to mingling with them, and intermarrying with them.

And this leads to the main point, namely, that the mere act of circumcision never made the Jews God’s peculiar people. They were His peculiar people only when they had that of which circumcision was the sign, namely, righteousness. When they did not have that, they were just the same as though they had never been circumcised (Romans 2:25- 29; Philippians 3:3), and were cut off without mercy as readily as were the heathen. Circumcision was only a sign of the possession of righteousness; and when righteousness was wanting the circumcision amounted to nothing.

On page 10 I read of the Jews:—

“Then came the cross, when all their special privileges, with circumcision as their representative and sign, were swept away. They had forfeited them by disobedience and rebellion.”

On page 11 I also read of the Jew:—

“He greatly disliked to be reckoned a common sinner with the hated Gentile. He strenuously contended also for circumcision and its attendant privileges.”

But on page 37 I read:—

“The law of rites had an immense amount of these, so that they constituted a ‘yoke of bondage’ grievous to be borne, which Paul claimed had passed away.”

I cannot harmonize this last quotation with the first two. How can a “yoke of bondage” be considered as “special “circumcision and its attendant privileges,” if he felt it to be a “yoke of bondage grievous to be borne”? This is a minor matter, but consistency should appear in the details of truth. I will not at present take time to give my view of the yoke of bondage, but will consider it later.

ARE ROMANS AND GALATIANS ADDRESSING THE SAME ARGUMENT?

On page 12, concerning the books of Romans and Galatians, I read:—

“We cannot agree with some who claim that the design, scheme, or argument in the two epistles are substantially the same. We freely admit that there are expressions alike in both; but we believe that the main line of argument and the ultimate object in view are widely different, and that many of the similar expressions used are to be understood in a different sense, because the argument of the apostle demands it. “In the other epistles of Paul these facts are adverted to; but in none of them is the argument anywhere near so fully developed. It does not look reasonable on the face of it, that the apostle would have principally the same object in view in two different epistles. These were written by direct inspiration of God, to be the special guidance of the Christian church. He was bringing out the great principles which should serve as the governing influence of the church for all future ages. We therefore believe it to be an unreasonable view that both have the same design.”

You say that it does not look reasonable that the apostle would have principally the same object in view in two different epistles. This is not an argument, but an opinion, and an opinion which I do not share. It does not seem any less reasonable to me that Paul should have principally the same object in view in two different epistles, than that the Spirit of God should inspire four men to write four different books with principally the same object in view, as is the case in the four Gospels. It seems fully as reasonable as that the prophets Daniel and John should have written two books with principally the same object in view, namely, to enlighten the church in regard to things to take place in the last days; or that the books of First and Second Chronicles should cover the ground covered in the books of Samuel and Kings; or that Paul’s epistle to Titus should contain so much that is in the epistles to Timothy; or that the book of Jude should be an almost exact reproduction, in brief, of the Second Epistle of Peter. Instead of Paul not having the same general object in view in two epistles, I find the same points brought out in Ephesians and Colossians, though not to the extent that they are in Romans and Galatians. To me it seems very reasonable that the same things should be presented from different points of view, especially when addressed to different people, and under different circumstances. I find that things that are dwelt upon at considerable length in one of the Testimonies for the Church, are repeated and emphasized in others; and it seems to me very fitting and necessary that this should be done, although these are addressed to the same churches, and not to different ones. This is in accordance with the Bible rule of line upon line, precept upon precept.

You say that similar terms, and even identical terms, need not necessarily have the same meaning. This may be true provided they are used with reference to different subjects. But if the same subject is under consideration in two different places, and the same or similar terms are used in each place, then we are bound to admit that they have the same meaning. If we do not do this, we cannot interpret the Bible at all. It is on this basis alone that we can understand the prophecies. If you will turn to the comments on the thirteenth chapter of Daniel, in Thoughts on the Book of Daniel and the Revelation, you will find that similarity of statement is all that is depended on to prove that the leopard beast is identical with the little horn of Daniel 7. No one has ever thought of questioning the argument in that place, and no one has any right to.

Now let us look for a moment at the subject of the two books, Romans and Galatians.

The leading thought in the book of Romans is justification by faith. The apostle shows the depraved condition of the heathen world; then he shows that the Jews are no better, but that human nature is the same in all. All have sinned, and all are guilty before God, and the only way that any can escape final condemnation is by faith in the blood of Christ. All who believe on Him are justified freely by the grace of God, and His righteousness is imputed to them although they have violated the law. This truth, which is brought out so clearly in the third chapter of Romans, is repeated and emphasized in the fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh chapters. And in the eighth chapter the apostle concludes that there is no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus. He has before shown that all sinners are under, or condemned by, the law, but when we come to God through faith in Christ, and are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, we are no longer under the law, but are under grace. This condition is represented in various places as “dead to the law by the body of Christ,” “delivered from the law,” etc. Everywhere faith in Christ and justification by faith are made prominent.

So we may say that justification by faith is the key-note of the book of Romans. Now how about the book of Galatians?

There is no question in the mind of any but that the Galatians were being induced to submit to circumcision. Were they submitting to the demands of the Jews that they should be circumcised, because they thought it a great privilege to be circumcised? Not by any means, but because certain Jews were teaching them that if they were not circumcised they could not be saved. See Acts 15:1. They were therefore looking to circumcision as a means of justification. But since there is none other name under heaven except that of Christ whereby we can be saved, it follows that to depend on anything except Christ for justification is a rejection of Christ. It was this which called out Paul’s letter to them. Now since the Galatians were being led to trust in circumcision for justification from sin, what else could be the burden of a letter designed to correct this error, but justification by faith in Christ? That this is the burden of the epistle is seen from Galatians 2:16- 21; 3:6-8, 10-14, 22, 24, 26, 27; 4:4-7; 5:5, 6; 6:14, 15, and other passages.

In the book of Romans the apostle develops his argument on justification by faith in a general way, building up a general treatise; but when he wrote to the Galatians he had a special object in view, and he adapted his epistle to the necessities of the case. It is the most natural thing in the world that he should write on justification by faith to the Galatians, when they were in danger of losing their faith, even if his treatise on that subject to the Romans had been already written. The truth is, however, that the book of Galatians was written first. In the book of Romans he expanded the book of Galatians into a general treatise.

 

ON FAITH, COMMANDMENTS, OR CIRCUMCISION

On page 13 of your pamphlet I find a paragraph which must necessarily be misleading to those who have not read my articles. You say: —

“What was the change in them of which he complains so strongly? Was it that they had kept the moral law so well—had observed the Sabbath, refrained from idolatry, blasphemy, murder, lying, stealing, etc.—that they felt they were justified by their good works, and therefore needed no faith in a crucified Saviour? or was it that they had accepted circumcision, with all it implied and symbolized, the laws and services which served as a wall of separation between Jews and Gentiles, and the ordinances of the typical remedial system? We unhesitatingly affirm it was the latter. In indorsing the former remedial system of types and shadows, they virtually denied that Christ, the substance to which all these types pointed, had come. Hence their error was a fundamental one in doctrine, though they might not realize it. This was why Paul spoke so forcibly, and pointed out their error with such strength of language. Their error involved practices which were subversive of the principles of the gospel. They were not merely errors of opinion.”

Anyone who had not read my articles would naturally conclude on reading the above, that I had claimed that the Galatians were most strict in their observance of the ten commandments, and that by this means they expected to be justified from past transgression. That is the very opposite of what I taught.

I made it as clear as I knew how, that the Galatians were accepting “circumcision with all it implied and symbolized,” and were accepting the Jewish error that circumcision was the only means of justification. We cannot suppose that the Jews who were thus seeking to turn the Galatians away from the faith, taught them to ignore the ten commandments, but we do know that they did not teach them to rely solely upon their observance of the moral law as a means of justification.

The true gospel is to keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. The perverted gospel which the Galatians were being taught, was to keep the commandments of God, and circumcision. But since circumcision is nothing, and there is in the universe no means of justification outside of Christ, it follows that they were practically relying upon their good works for salvation. But Christ says, “Without Me ye can do nothing;” that is, the man who rejects Christ, by accepting some other mode of justification, cannot possibly keep the commandments, “for Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.”

So we find that the Galatians, although they had once accepted Christ and known God, were now insensibly turning away from God, and of course going back to the heathen practices which came so naturally to them. This is shown by several expressions:
First, “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from Him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel, which is not another.” Galatians 1:6, 7.
This shows that they were being removed from God, for God is the one who calls people unto the fellowship of His Son. 1 Corinthians 1:9.

Again we read, “After that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements?” Galatians 4:9.
This shows that they were turning from God.

Once more we read, “Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?” Galatians 5:7.
These passages clearly show that that which made the case so urgent was the fact that the Galatians were leaving the truth of God, and going into idolatry. This was not because the Jews were teaching them to break the commandments, but because they were putting their trust in something besides Christ, and the man who does that cannot keep from sin, no matter how hard he tries. See Romans 8:7-10; Galatians 5:17. Those who attempt to build their house on anything except the rock Christ Jesus, are building for destruction. And so I believe as firmly as you can that their error was fundamental and a grave one.

PASSING OF THE CEREMONIAL LAW

I must go back to the tenth page, and notice an expression which I find concerning the relative position of the Jews and Gentiles after the passing away of the ceremonial law:—

“There was no propriety, therefore, in still keeping up the wall of separation between them and others. They all stood now upon the same level in the sight of God. All must approach Him through the Messiah who had come into the world; through Him alone man could be saved.”

Do you mean to intimate by this that there was ever a time when any people could approach God except through Christ?

If not, then language means nothing. Your words seem to imply that before the first advent men approached God by means of the ceremonial law, and that after that they approached Him through the Messiah; but we shall have to go outside the Bible to find any support for the idea that anybody could ever approach God except through Christ. Amos 5:22; Micah 6:6-8, and many other texts show conclusively that the ceremonial law alone could never enable people to come to God. These points will come in again later.

I pass on to your consideration of the second chapter. I do not think there is anyone whose opinion is worth considering, who will question for a moment your statement that the visit referred to in the first verse in this chapter is the same as the one of which we have an account in Acts 15. I certainly agree with you there. If you will notice, I made a distinct point on this in my articles; in fact, I insisted upon it as a necessary foundation of my argument. I repeated several times, what I have already stated in this letter, that the epistle to the Galatians was called out by the very same thing which the certain men who came down to Antioch were teaching, namely, “Except ye be circumcised ye cannot be saved.” I agree with you that “the very same question precisely which came before the council is the main subject of the apostle’s letter to this church.”

But I do not agree with you in all that you say in the words immediately following, which I find on page 25 of your pamphlet:—

“Will any Seventh-day Adventist claim that the moral law was the subject considered by that council? Was it the moral law which Peter characterizes as ‘a yoke … which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear’? Were the moral and ceremonial laws all mixed up and confounded in the council? Did the decision of that body set aside the laws against stealing, lying, Sabbath-breaking, and murder? We all know better. The council took no cognizance whatever of the ten commandments.”

Do you really believe that the council took no cognizance of the ten commandments? If so, can you tell me of what law fornication is the transgression? Fornication is one of the four things forbidden by the council. Now I have a very distinct recollection of some plain talk which you gave on this subject at the General Conference, and of some still plainer testimony from Sister White, all of which I thought was very pertinent. You proved from Scripture that the seventh commandment may be broken by even a look, or a desire of the heart. And yet you claim that the council which forbade fornication took no cognizance whatever of the ten commandments. How you can make such a statement after reading the fifteenth chapter of Acts, is beyond my comprehension.

Again, another thing which was forbidden by the council was “pollutions of idols.” That certainly must have some connection with the first and second commandments, to say nothing of other commandments that were broken in idolatrous feasts. I should be extremely sorry to have people get the idea that we do not regard pollutions of idols, or fornication, as violations of the moral law. You claim that it is the ceremonial law alone that was under consideration in that council. Will you please cite me to that portion of the ceremonial law which forbids fornication and idolatry?

This is an important matter, and right here your whole argument falls to the ground. You very properly connect the book of Galatians with the fifteenth chapter of Acts. You justly claim that in Galatians Paul pursues the same line of argument which was pursued in the council. And you depend on the assumption that the council took no cognizance of the moral law, in order to prove that the moral law does not come into the account in Galatians. But a simple reading of the report of the council shows that the moral law did come in there; and therefore, according to your own argument, the moral law must be considered in the book of Galatians.

Take for a moment the supposition that the ceremonial law alone was considered by the council; then it necessarily follows, as is plainly stated in the “Two Laws,” page 31, that the council decided that four points of the ceremonial law were declared to be binding on Christians.

Now let me ask:

1. Is the decision of that council as binding on us as it was on the primitive Christians? If so, then the ceremonial law was not taken away at the cross, and we are still subject to it.

2. If the ceremonial law was a yoke of bondage, and that council decreed that a part of it was to be observed by Christians, did they not thereby deliberately place Christians under a yoke of bondage, in spite of Peter’s emphatic protest against putting a yoke upon them?

3. If those “four necessary things” were part of the ceremonial law, and were binding twenty-one years after the crucifixion, when, if ever, did they cease to be in force?

We have no record that those four necessary things ever ceased to be necessary things; and therefore, according to the theory that the ceremonial law was a yoke of bondage, it is impossible for Christians ever to be perfectly free. This one thing is certain, if the ceremonial law was nailed to the cross, then the apostles, acting in harmony with the leadings of the Spirit of God, would not declare a part of it to be “necessary things.”

And whoever claims that the “four necessary things” enjoined by the council at Jerusalem, were a part of the ceremonial law, thereby denies that the ceremonial law ceased at the cross. I cannot think that you would have taken the position which you have, if you had taken time to carefully consider this matter.

Now let me state, in brief, what I regard as the truth concerning the council at Jerusalem. Certain ones came down to Antioch and taught the brethren that if they were not circumcised they could not be saved.

These persons, or others of the same class, had greatly troubled all the churches that Paul had raised up, the Galatians among the rest. These men who taught thus were not Christians indeed, but were “false brethren;” see Galatians 2:4. As a consequence of this teaching, many were being turned away from the gospel.

In trusting to circumcision for justification, they were leaning on a broken reed which could profit them nothing. Instead of gaining righteousness by it, they were insensibly being led into wicked practices, for without faith in Christ no man can live a righteous life.

Suppose now that the council had confirmed the teachings of these false brethren, and had decreed that circumcision was necessary to justification; what would have been the result? Just this; they would have turned the disciples away from Christ; for the only object in coming to Christ is to receive justification or pardon, and if people can get it without coming to Christ, of course they have no need of Him. But whatever the apostles might have decreed, it would still have remained a fact that circumcision is nothing, and that the disciples could no more be justified by it than they could by snapping their fingers. Therefore, if they had been led to put their trust in circumcision, they would have rested satisfied in their sins; and to lead them to do that would indeed have been to put a yoke upon them. Sin is a bondage, and to teach men to put their trust in a false hope, which will cause them to rest satisfied in their sins, thinking that they are free from them, is simply to fasten them in bondage.

Peter said, “Why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?” Now the fathers had the ceremonial law, and did bear it; they practiced it, and throve under it, as David said: “Those that be planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing.” Psalm 92:13, 14.

Anyone who reads the Psalms will see that David did not regard the ceremonial law as a burdensome yoke, nor think it grievous bondage to carry out its ordinances. It was a delight to him to offer the sacrifices of thanksgiving, because by it he showed faith in Christ. Faith in Christ was the soul and life of his service. Without that his worship would have been a meaningless form. But if he had been so ill-informed as to suppose that the simple mechanical performance of the ceremonial law would cleanse him from sin, then indeed he would have been in a grievous condition.

There are two yokes,—the yoke of sin (Satan’s yoke), and the yoke of Christ. The yoke of sin is hard to bear,—Satan is a hard master; but the yoke of Christ is easy, and His burden is light. He sets us free from sin, that we may serve Him by bearing His mild yoke. Matthew 11:29, 30.

Now what was the reason that only four things were enjoined upon these troubled converts. It was because these four things covered the danger. Compliance with Jewish ceremonies, as a means of justification, separated them from Christ, and naturally led them to look with favor upon heathen ceremonies. They were told that no Jewish ceremonies whatever were required of them, and then were cautioned against the four things in which there was the greatest danger for them. If the converts from among the Gentiles should begin to backslide, fornication and the eating of blood would be the first things they would take up, because those were so common among the Gentiles that they were not considered sinful at all.

Thus we see that while in the council at Jerusalem the ceremonial law was under consideration, and the question was whether or not Christians should observe it, the only importance that attached to it, and the only reason why those who taught circumcision were reproved, was because such teaching necessarily led to the violation of the moral law; and this is the sum of the teaching in the book of Galatians. Paul emphatically warns the Galatians against being circumcised; not because circumcision was in itself so heinous a thing, for he himself had circumcised Timothy (and that, too, after the council at Jerusalem), but because they were trusting in circumcision for justification, thus cutting loose from Christ, and relapsing into idolatry.

 

THE TWO LAWS

I pass to page 33, to your closing remarks on the second chapter, where you say:—

“We have had here nearly two entire chapters in this letter, about one-third of the whole epistle, and hitherto we have not had a single reference to the moral law; but through it all constant reference is made to the other law, that of Moses.”

I think you could not have had in mind the nineteenth verse of the second chapter when you wrote the above. That verse reads,
“For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God.”
The ceremonial law never had power to slay anyone. But even allowing that it did once have that power, it had itself died, having been nailed to the cross at least three years before Paul was converted. Now I ask, How could Paul be slain by a law that for three years had had no existence? This verse shows upon the face of it that the moral law is referred to. It is the same law to which Paul refers when he says,
“I was alive without the law once; but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died. And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death.” Romans 7:9, 10.

The limits of a brief review do not allow me to give an exposition of these references to the law in the second chapter of Galatians, as I hope to do sometime, but it needs very little space to show that the moral law, and no other law, is referred to in Galatians 2:19.

I see you apply Galatians 3:10 to the ceremonial law. In so doing you certainly are taking a new position. I think I have read every book published by Seventh-day Adventists, and I never read that position in any of them. On the contrary, everyone who has written upon this subject has applied this to the moral law, and I do not see how there is any chance to apply it anywhere else.

I do not question the statement that “the book of the law” included both the moral law and the ceremonial law. I am glad that you admit as much, for many who have talked or written on this subject have seemed to claim that “the book of the law” refers exclusively to the ceremonial law.

You will notice, however, that the book of Deuteronomy is devoted almost entirely to moral precepts, and has only one or two references to the ceremonial law, and those references are to the three annual feasts, the antitype of one of which is still in the future. That the moral law occupies the chief place in the book of Deuteronomy must be patent to everyone who carefully reads that book. See chapter 4:5-13; 5; 6; (ch. 6:25 is universally used by Seventh-day Adventists concerning the moral law); 11:8, 18-28; 13; and many others than these which I have selected at random. Deuteronomy 29:29 certainly applies to the moral law, and the expression there used (in the last clause) implies that the moral law is the prominent law under consideration in the book. And in Deuteronomy 27, where the curses are found, the twenty-sixth verse of which is quoted in Galatians 3:10, only the moral law is referred to. But while it is doubtless true that the ceremonial law was included in the “book of the law,” I have yet to find Scripture proof for the statement that there was any curse pronounced for non-performance of the ceremonial law as an independent law. I will try to make clear what I mean.

There can be no moral obligation to perform anything not required by the moral law. That is simply another way of saying that sin is the transgression of the law. Now, if at any time sin can be imputed for the performance or nonperformance of any act not forbidden or enjoined in the moral law, then it necessarily follows that the moral law is not a perfect rule of action. But the moral law is a perfect law. It embodies all righteousness, even the righteousness of God, and nothing more can be required of any man than perfect obedience to it. That law is so broad that it covers every act and every thought, so that it is utterly impossible for a person to conceive of a sin which is not forbidden by the moral law. I do not see how this position can be questioned by one who believes in the divine origin and the perpetuity of the law; yet your position does virtually deny that the moral law is a perfect rule of conduct; for you say that the curse attaches both to the ceremonial law and to the moral law.

That the curse of the law is death, I do not suppose you will deny, and therefore will not stop here to offer extended proof, yet a few words may not be out of place. I simply note the following points:

1. The curse of the law is what Christ bore for us. See Galatians 3:13.

2. This curse consisted in being hanged on a tree. See last part of same verse.

3. This being hanged on a tree was the crucifixion of Christ, for at no other time was He ever hanged on a tree; and Peter said to the wicked Jews: “The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree.” Acts 5:30.

Therefore death is the curse which Christ bore for us; but death is the wages of sin, and sin is the violation of the moral law. Therefore Christ bore the curse of the moral law for us. There is no other law that has any curse attached to it. Certain it is that no curse is or can be pronounced except for sin; therefore if the curse be pronounced for failure to comply with the rites of the ceremonial law, then such failure must be in itself sin, and therefore the ceremonial law is also a standard of righteousness.

I do not see how from your position you can avoid the conclusion that the moral law is not, or at least was not, in the Jewish age, of itself a perfect standard of righteousness. The great fault which I find with the position you hold is that it depreciates the moral law, and correspondingly depreciates the gospel.

Let me repeat the argument:
If the curse attaches to the ceremonial law, then violation of the ceremonial law is sin; and if violation of the ceremonial law is sin, then there is sin not forbidden by the ten commandments; and then the ten commandments are not a perfect rule of action; moreover, since the ceremonial law is done away, it follows that the standard of righteousness is not so perfect now as it was in the days of Moses. If this is not a legitimate conclusion from your premises, I must confess my ignorance of logic.

Another point:
No sin can remove itself, neither can it be atoned for by any subsequent good deed. So then there must be some scheme of atonement for sin. Now if sin were imputed for neglect of the ceremonial law, what remedy was provided for that sin? The ceremonial law was simply the ordinances of the gospel. If condemned sinners were still further condemned by the very remedy provided for their salvation, then indeed it must have been a yoke. A man is in a truly pitiable condition when the remedy given him for a sore disease only aggravates that disease.

But you will say, and correctly too, that those who refused to comply with the requirements of the ceremonial law were put to death. Why was this, if the curse did not attach to the ceremonial law? I will answer. The violator of the moral law justly merited death, but God had provided a pardon for all who would accept it. This pardon was on condition of faith in Christ, and it was ordained that faith in Christ should be manifested through the rites of the ceremonial law.

Now if a man repented of his sins, and had faith in Christ, he would manifest it, and would receive the pardon; and then of course the penalty would not be inflicted upon him. But if he had no faith in Christ, he would not comply with the conditions of pardon, and then of course the penalty for sin would be inflicted. The penalty was not for failure to carry out the rites of the ceremonial law, but for the sin which might have been remitted had he manifested faith.

I think anybody can see the truthfulness of this position. Let us illustrate it. Here is a man who has committed a murder, and is under sentence of death. He is told that the Governor will pardon him if he will acknowledge his guilt, repent of his sin, and make an application for pardon; but this he refuses to do, and the law is allowed to take its course, and he is hanged. Now why is he hanged? Is it because he refuses to make the application for pardon? Not by any means. He is hanged for the murder. No particle whatever of the penalty is inflicted because he refused to sue for pardon, and yet if he had sued for pardon every particle of the penalty would have been remitted. So it is with the sinner in his relation to the law of God. If he despises the offer of pardon, and shows his disregard by a refusal to take the steps necessary to receive the pardon, then the curse of the law, death, is allowed to fall upon him. But refusing to receive pardon is not a sin. God invites men to receive pardon, but He has no law to compel them to be pardoned.

The murderer who has been offered pardon and has rejected it, is no more guilty than another man who has committed the same crime but who has not been offered a pardon. I do not know as this can be made any clearer; I cannot see that it needs to be. The sum of it all is simply this: Sin is the transgression of the moral law, and the violation of no other law; for the moral law covers all duty. There is a curse attached to the violation of the law, and that curse is death; “for the wages of sin is death.” But there is provision for the pardon of those who exercise faith in Christ. And this faith is indicated by a performance of certain rites.

Before Christ, it was by the offering of sacrifices; since Christ it is by baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Those who have real faith will indicate it in the prescribed manner, and will escape the penalty. Those who have not faith will receive the penalty. This is exactly what Christ meant when He Himself said to Nicodemus: “For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved. He that believeth on Him is not condemned; but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” John 3:17, 18.

I marvel how you can read Galatians 3:11, 12, and imagine that the word law in those verses has the slightest reference to the ceremonial law.

I quote them:
“But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident; for, The just shall live by faith. And the law is not of faith; but, The man that doeth them shall live in them.”
It does not seem as though any comment could make more evident the truth that the moral law alone is here referred to. You cannot escape this conclusion by saying that the statement that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God, applies with equal force to any law, and that therefore this may apply to the ceremonial law as well as to the moral.

The question is not what law may be referred to, but what law is referred to? The law here referred to is a law of which it is said,
“The man that doeth them shall live in them.”
Now this is emphatically true of the moral law. It is equivalent to Romans 2:13:
“The doers of the law shall be justified.”

The sad fact that there are no doers of the law does not destroy the truth that the doers of the law shall be justified. Perfect compliance with the moral law alone is all that God can possibly require of any creature. Such service would necessarily give eternal life. But a man might perform every item of the ceremonial law with the most rigid scrupulousness and yet be condemned. The Pharisees were strict observers of the ceremonial law, yet they were cursed; therefore this text cannot have the slightest reference to the ceremonial law.

Again, the text says, “And the law is not of faith.” But the ceremonial law was of nothing else but faith; it was a matter of faith from beginning to end. It was faith that constituted all the difference between the offering of Abel and that of Cain. See Hebrews 11:4. It was faith alone that gave to that system all the force it ever had. And this again is positive evidence that the ceremonial law is not referred to.

It does not seem possible that argument is needed to show that Galatians 3:11-13 has reference to the moral law, and to the moral law exclusively. Until the publication of your pamphlet, a contrary view was never put forth by Seventh-day Adventists. I really cannot believe that you would deliberately deny that the moral law is there under consideration.

The limits of this review will not allow me to take up every occurrence of the word “law” in the book of Galatians, and show its application, but I wish to ask one question:
Is it reasonable to suppose that the apostle would use the words, “the law,” in one place, and then a few verses later, without any change in his subject, or anything to indicate a change, use the same words again, and in the two places have reference to two entirely distinct laws?
You yourself say that it is not. If it were true that the apostle wrote in so indefinite a manner as that, using the term “the law” in one verse with reference to the moral law, and in the next verse with reference to the ceremonial law, then nobody could understand his writings unless he had the same degree of inspiration that the apostle had.

I turn again to your book, page 39, and read the following:—

“If these Galatians were going to re-establish the whole Jewish system, which would be the logical result of their action in adopting circumcision, they must thereby bring themselves under a curse.”

In the same paragraph you say that the statement,

“Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them,”

applies to the ceremonial law, and that the Galatians were bringing themselves under this curse because they were going to re-establish the whole Jewish system! I cannot see logic in that. If it were true, it would be a case of “You’ll be damned if you do, and you’ll be damned if you don’t.”

 

THE ADDED LAW

I pass to your argument on Galatians 3:17-19. On this you say:—

“This law was given four hundred and thirty years after the promise to Abraham. Could it, therefore, be the same as ‘My commandments, My statutes, and My laws’ which Abraham kept? Genesis 25:5. They were evidently the moral law; hence this is not.”— p. 43.

This is an argument that proves too much. It is a reversal of the Campbellite view that the moral law had no existence before it was given upon Mount Sinai. Your argument claims that the moral law was not given upon Mount Sinai,because it existed in the days of Abraham. But it is a fact that God spoke some law from Mount Sinai, and that this event was four hundred and thirty years after the promise to Abraham; therefore your statement that the law given four hundred and thirty years after the time of Abraham cannot be the moral law because Abraham kept the moral law, amounts to the assertion that the law given upon Mount Sinai was not the moral law. Your argument also, if valid, would prove that the law referred to is not the ceremonial law either, because Abraham had that in substance. He had circumcision, which you say stands for the whole ceremonial law, and he had sacrifices. I think that when you revise your book, that argument at least will have to be left out.

You next say:—

“This law was ‘added because of transgressions.’ The original word signifies ‘to pass by or over; to transgress or violate.’ This law, then, had been ‘added’ because some other law had been ‘passed by,’ ‘transgressed,’ or ‘violated.’ It was not ‘added’ to itself because itself had been ‘violated.’ This would be absurd if applied to the moral law; for none of us claim there was any more of the moral law really in existence after the ten commandments were spoken, than there had been before. They all existed before, though Israel may have been ignorant of portions of them.”

It seems as though your principal argument is a play upon words. It is not enough to say that a thing is absurd, in order to controvert it. Some things may seem absurd to one person which appear very reasonable to another. Paul says that the preaching of the cross is to some people foolishness, or absurd, and I have often heard people ridicule the idea that the death of one person could atone for the sins of another. They call such an idea absurd, yet to you and me it is perfectly consistent with reason. So when you say that it is absurd to apply the term “added” to the moral law, you should substantiate your assertion by proof, in order to have it of any value.

You say,

“It could not properly be said that the moral law was ‘appointed’ four hundred and thirty years after Abraham, when we see that it existed and he fully kept it at that time.”

This argument has been noticed already, but I will note it a little further. If the law here referred to means the ceremonial law, and your argument just quoted is valid, then it precludes the possibility of there being any ceremonial law in the time of Abraham; but Abraham had the essential parts of the ceremonial law, although that law had not been formally given.

If you deny that Abraham had the ceremonial law, and insist that that law was not given until 430 years after his time, then I would like to ask what remedial system there was before the exodus? You say that the ceremonial law was added because of transgressions, that is, as a remedial system. Then why was it not added as soon as the transgression was committed, instead of 2,500 years later? I claim that the remedial system entered immediately after the fall, and for proof I cite you to the offering of Abel. Your argument would put off the remedial system until the exodus.

You may say that at that time the ceremonial law was given more formally and circumstantially than before; very good, but if that argument will apply to the ceremonial law, as it undeniably will, why will it not apply equally to the moral law? You cannot deny that the moral law was given at Sinai, although it had been known since the creation. Why was it given then? Because it had never been formally announced. So far as we know, no copy of it had ever been written, and the great mass of the people were almost totally ignorant in regard to it.

You, yourself, say that Israel may have been ignorant of portions of the moral law, and this is undoubtedly true. Then there is abundant reason why it should have been given at that time,—because of transgressions. If all the people had known and obeyed the law, there would have been no necessity for its promulgation on Sinai; but because they were ignorant of its requirements, and had transgressed it, it was necessary that it should then be given as it was.

But you say that it is not proper to apply the term “added” to the moral law. The Bible itself must decide that matter. In the fifth chapter of Deuteronomy Moses rehearses to the children of Israel the circumstances of the giving of the law. Verses 5-21 contain the substance of the ten commandments, and of these Moses says in the twenty-second verse:
“These words the Lord spake unto all your assembly in the mount out of the midst of the fire, of the cloud, and of the thick darkness, with a great voice; and He ADDED no more.”

The term “added,” in this verse, is in the Septuagint exactly the same as that rendered “added” in Galatians 3:19. The Hebrew word is the same that is rendered “add” in Genesis 30:24. That it has unmistakable reference in Deuteronomy 5:22 to the moral law, and to that alone, no one can deny. I care not whether you render it “added,” “spoken,” or “promulgated’‘—it makes no difference.

In Hebrews 12:18, 19 we have unmistakable reference to the voice of God speaking the law from Sinai, and the request of the people that God should not speak to them any more (Exodus 20:18, 19), in the words, “which voice they that heard entreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more.” Here the word rendered “spoken” is the same as that rendered “added” in Galatians 3:19 and Deuteronomy 5:22.

If we chose we might render it, “they entreated that the word should not be added to them any more,” and then we would have a uniform rendering. Or we might render it uniformly “spoken,” and then we would read in Deuteronomy that the Lord spoke all those words in the mount, out of the midst of the fire, etc., with a great voice, “and He spoke no more;” and this would be the exact truth and a good rendering. And likewise for uniformity we might justly render Galatians 5:19, “it was spoken because of transgressions.”

Or we might take the word in Deuteronomy 5:22 in the same sense in which it is used in Genesis 30:24, and the same idea would appear. When Rachel said, “God shall add to me another son,” it was the same as though she had said, “God will give me another son.” So the meaning in Deuteronomy 5:22 is that after the Lord had given them the commandments recorded in the preceding verses, He gave them no more. It seems to me very reasonable to apply the term “added” to the moral law; and whether it is reasonable or not I have certainly quoted two texts besides Galatians 3:19 which apply it so.

But you cannot find in the Bible a single instance of the use of the word “added,” as applied to the ceremonial law, to substantiate your view on Galatians 3:19. Deuteronomy 5:22 plainly says that the ten commandments were spoken by the Lord, and that nothing but the ten commandments was spoken, or given, or “added.”

Galatians 3:19 tells us why they were spoken. It was because of transgressions; that is, because people were largely ignorant, of the law. We may not play upon the word “added,” and use it in a mathematical sense, but must necessarily use it in the sense of declaring or speaking. There was no more moral law after God spoke it from Sinai than there was before, but it was certainly known a great deal better than it was before, and there was less excuse for sin than there was before.

In the preceding verses the apostle has spoken of the promise to Abraham, and the covenant made to him. The statement that that covenant was confirmed in Christ shows plainly that the covenant to Abraham confirmed the forgiveness of sins through Christ. But the forgiveness of sin necessarily implies a knowledge of sin. Only the righteous can be heirs of the promise, and a knowledge of sin and righteousness can only be obtained through the moral law. Therefore the giving of the law in a more specific manner than ever before was necessary, in order that the people might be partakers of the blessings promised to Abraham.

The very same thing is stated in Romans 5:20, “Moreover, the law entered that the offense might abound;” and I never knew any Seventhday Adventist to have any trouble in applying that to the moral law, yet it is certainly as difficult a text as Galatians 3:10. The word rendered “entered” is, literally, “came in.” The revised version has it, “came in beside.”

But the moral law existed before the days of Moses, as is evident from verses 13, 14 of the same chapter, and also from the expression in the same verse, “that the offense might abound,” showing that sin—the transgression of the law—existed before the law came in. Although the law existed in all its force before the exodus, yet it “came in,” “entered,” was spoken or given, or “added” at that time. And why? That the offense might abound, i.e., “that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful;” that what was sin before might the more plainly be seen to be sin. Thus it entered, or was added, “because of transgressions.” If it had not been for transgressions there would have been no necessity for the law to enter at Sinai. Why did it enter because of transgressions? “That the offense might abound;” in order to make sin seem greater than ever before, so that men might be driven to the super-abounding grace of God as manifested in Christ.

And so it became a school-master, pedagogue, to bring men to Christ, in order that they might be justified by faith, and be made the righteousness of God in Him. And so it is stated later that the law is not against the promises of God. It works in harmony with the promise, for without it the promise would be of no effect. And this most emphatically attests the perpetuity of the law.

I do not care for the opinions of commentators, except as they state in a clearer form that which has already been proved from the Bible; but as you in your pamphlet seem to have placed considerable reliance upon the opinion of commentators, it may not be profitless to quote a few here. I do it, however, not because I think they add anything to the argument, but simply as an offset to your quotations, and because they possibly state the case a little more clearly than I have done.

Professor Boise, in his “Critical Notes on the Greek text of Galatians,” says on this text:—

“Because of the transgressions indicates, therefore, this idea, to give a knowledge of transgressions, to make plainly clear and distinct what were actual transgressions of the divine requirements.”

He also says:—

“In keeping with this idea, and perhaps implied, is the interpretation, to restrain transgressions.”

And he cites Erasmus, Olshausen, Neander, DeWette, Ewald, Luther, Bengel, and others, as holding the same view. If the opinions of commentators are to decide this matter, I think that the moral law will come out ahead.

Dr Barnes says on the expression “because of transgressions:—

“On account of transgressions, or with reference to them. The meaning is, that the law was given to show the true nature of transgression, or to show what was sin. It was not to reveal a way of justification, but it was to disclose the true nature of sin; to deter men from committing it; to declare its penalty: to convince men of it, and thus to be ‘ancillary’ to, and preparatory to, the work of redemption through the Redeemer. This is the true account of the law of God as given to apostate men, and this use of the law still exists.”

And Dr. Clarke says:—

“It was given that we might know our sinfulness, and the need we stood in of the mercy of God. The law is the right line, the straight edge that determines the obliquity of our conduct. See the notes on Romans 4:15, and especially on Romans 5:20, where this subject is largely discussed and the figure explained.”

Your argument against the moral law being “added because of transgressions” will apply with equal force against the moral law having “entered that the offense might abound.” If you claim that Galatians 3:19 cannot apply to the moral law, then you must claim also that Romans 5:20 does not apply to that law.

I quote further from your pamphlet, from the paragraph ending at the top of page 44:—

“It would be absurd to suppose that this law was ‘added’ to itself. It does apply reasonably to another law, brought in because the one previously existing had been ‘violated.’ A law cannot be transgressed unless it exists; for ‘where no law is, there is no transgression.’”

I have already shown the force of the term, “added.” I have never claimed that any law was added to itself, or that any mathematical process is referred to by the word rendered, “added.”

What do you mean by saying a law cannot be transgressed until it exists? You seem to imply that the moral law did not exist so that it could be transgressed before it was given upon Mount Sinai.

I know you do not believe this, and yet in another paragraph it is implied still more plainly. I will again quote Romans 5:20: “Moreover the law entered, that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.” This law unmistakably is the moral law, yet you might say it is impossible that it should be the moral law, because offenses existed before the law here spoken of entered, and where no law is there is no transgression; and that therefore the law which here entered was some other law. But you would not argue that here. You would claim as I do, that the meaning of the text is that the law entered, or was given, in order that sin might appear in its true enormity.

As Paul elsewhere says, sin by the commandment became exceeding sinful. The moral law existed from creation, and long before. The patriarchs had a knowledge of it, and also all the antediluvians and the Sodomites, because they were counted sinners; yet it did not exist in written form, and those who were not in immediate connection with God could not have that perfect knowledge of the law which would show them the full heinousness of sin. They could know that the things which they committed were wrong, but they could not realize their full enormity; and especially was this the case when the Israelites came from Egyptian bondage.

But God had made a covenant with Abraham, and had promised wonderful things, but only on condition of perfect righteousness through Christ; and if men ever attain to this perfect righteousness, they must have the law in its fullest extent, and must know that many things were sinful, which they might previously have thought were harmless. So the law entered that the offense might abound; and because the offense abounded, and men saw their depravity, they found that grace super-abounded to cover their sins. The case is so plain, and the argument in Galatians 3:19 is so plainly parallel, that I marvel how anybody who has any just conception of the relation of the law and the gospel can question it for a moment.

Again on page 44 I read:—

“The moral law is referred to as the one transgressed. But the ‘added’ law, of which Paul is speaking, made provision for the forgiveness of these transgressions in figure, till the real Sacrifice should be offered.”

Your misapplication of the word “added” I have already sufficiently noticed, but there is an idea expressed in the quotation just made which I am sorry to see has of late been taught to some extent. And that is that in the so-called Jewish dispensation forgiveness of sins was only figurative. Your words plainly indicate that there was no real forgiveness of sins until Christ, the real Sacrifice, was offered. If that were so, I would like to inquire how Enoch and Elijah got to Heaven. Were they taken there with their sins unforgiven? Had they been in Heaven for two or three thousand years before their sins were forgiven? The very fact that they were taken to Heaven is sufficient evidence that their sins were really pardoned.

When David says, “Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered,” he means just what Paul did when he used the same words. David said to the Lord, “Thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin.” That was no sham forgiveness. And it was expressly declared that if a soul should sin against any of the commandments of the Lord, he should offer his sacrifice and his sins should be forgiven him. Leviticus 4:2, 3, 20, 26, 31. There was no virtue in the sacrifice, which was typical, yet the pardon was as real as any that has ever been given since the crucifixion. How could this be? Simply because Christ is the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. That He should offer Himself as a sacrifice, was promised to our first parents in Eden, and confirmed to Abraham by an oath from God, and therefore, by virtue of that promise, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all who wished, could receive as much virtue from the blood of Christ as we can. That forgiveness was real is shown by the fact that Abel, by his offering, received witness that he was righteous. But there can be no righteousness that has not been preceded by forgiveness. If the pardon were figurative, then the righteousness must also have been figurative. But Abel and Noah and Abraham, and others, were really righteous; they had the perfect righteousness of faith; therefore they must have had actual forgiveness. This is further shown from the fact that forgiveness of sins must precede all righteousness. For there can be no righteousness without faith (Romans 6:23), and faith always brings pardon. Romans 3:24, 25; 5:l.

"TILL THE SEED SHALL COME"

I quote the next paragraph of your pamphlet, page 44:—

“‘Till the seed should come,’ limits the duration of this remedial system, beyond all question. The word ‘till’ or ‘until,’ ever has that signification. The ‘added’ law, then, was to exist no longer than ‘till the seed should come.’ This the language unmistakably declares. Did the moral law extend no further than the full development of the Messiah? No Seventh-day Adventist will admit that. But this was precisely the case with the other law.”

You say that the added law was to exist no longer than till the seed should come, because the word “till,” or “until,” has ever the signification of a certain limited duration.

Let me quote you a few texts. In Ps. 112:8, I read of the good man: “His heart is established, he shall not be afraid, until he see his desire upon his enemies.” Do you think that that implies that as soon as the good man has seen his desire upon his enemies he shall be afraid? Again I read of Christ in Isaiah 42:4, “He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till He have set judgment in the earth.” Do you think the word “till” in this instance limits the duration of the time that Christ should not be discouraged? and does it imply that as soon as He has set judgment in the earth, He shall fail and be discouraged? The question answers itself.

Once more, in Daniel 1:21, I read: “And Daniel continued even unto the first year of King Cyrus.” Does that mean that he did not live any longer? Not by any means, for in the tenth chapter we read of a vision which was given him in the third year of Cyrus. 1 Samuel 15:35 says that “Samuel came no more to see Saul until the day of his death.” Do you think that he went to see him as soon as he died? These texts show that “till” does not necessarily limit the duration of the thing to which it is applied, and does not necessarily imply that the law ceases at the coming of the seed. The exact meaning of the term in this instance I reserve till later.

 

ORDAINED BY ANGELS

I quote again from your pamphlet:—

“The ‘added’ law was ‘ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.’ All agree that this ‘mediator’ was Moses, who went between God and the people. The original word for ‘ordained’ is rendered ‘promulgate’ by Greenfield, who cites this text as an illustration. Was it true that the ten commandments were ‘ordained,’ or ‘promulgated, ’ ‘by angels,’ ‘in’ or ‘by the hand of Moses’? God Himself spoke them with a voice that shook the earth, and wrote them with His own finger on the stone tablets. But the other law was given through angels, and written in a ‘book’ by the ‘hand of Moses.’ If the reader desires to see some of the instances where the same expression substantially is used when speaking of the ‘law of Moses,’ we refer him to Leviticus 2649; Numbers 4~37; 1522, 23, and especially Nehemiah 9:13, 14, where the distinction is clearly made between the laws which God spoke, and the ‘precepts, statutes, and laws’ given ‘by the hand of Moses.’”

There are several points in this paragraph, and we will note them in order. First, was the ceremonial law given by angels? Those who hold as you do, say that it was, and quote Galatians 3:19 as proof. But that is not competent testimony on this point, for it is the text under discussion; but, unfortunately for your theory, it is the only text that you can quote. And so the “proof” that the ceremonial law was given by angels is nothing but reasoning in a circle. Thus: You say that Galatians 3:19 refers to the ceremonial law, because it speaks of a law that was “ordained by angels;” then you “prove” that the ceremonial law was spoken by angels, by quoting Galatians 3:19, which you have already “proved” refers to the ceremonial law. This is not proving anything, but is simply begging the question. You started out to show that Galatians 3:19 has reference to the ceremonial law, because it speaks of a law ordained by angels. In order to make that good, you ought to cite at least one other text in the Bible where it is at least implied that the angels gave the ceremonial law; but this you cannot do.

Now, on the other hand, the connection of angels with the giving of the ten commandments from Sinai is most clearly marked. I first cite
Psalms 68:17: “The chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands of angels; the Lord is among them, as in Sinai, in the holy place.”
Again, I refer to Deuteronomy 33:2: “The Lord came from Sinai, and rose up from Seir unto them; He shined forth from Mount Paran, and He came with ten thousands of saints [holy ones,—angels]; from His right hand went a fiery law for them.”

These texts show plainly that the angels of God were on Sinai when the law was spoken. They were there evidently for a purpose, though we cannot tell what. But we have a still more emphatic testimony in Stephen’s address, Acts 7:51-53: “Ye stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost; as your fathers did, so do ye. Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which showed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers; who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it.”

The law which these wicked Jews had not kept was the moral law, which Stephen said was given “by the disposition of angels,”—the very same term that in Galatians 3:19 is rendered “ordained by angels.”

The word diatasso, rendered “ordain,” means, according to Liddell and Scott, “to range, ordain, establish, to set in order, draw up an army.” The word “disposition,” in Acts 7:53, is from diataxis, a noun derived from the preceding verb, and means, “disposition, arrangement, especially a drawing up of troops, order of battle.” These words have also the signification of “to decree,” to “will,” but the former signification seems to convey the idea of the words as used in the texts quoted.

The text under consideration does not say that the angels spoke the law, and we know very well that they did not speak either the moral or the ceremonial law. The Lord Himself spoke them both, the one directly to the people, and the other to Moses. But the angels were there, evidently in their regular order, as the armies of Heaven. Just what part they had to act no one can tell, for the Bible does not specify. All I claim is that the Scriptures speak of them as being intimately connected with the giving of the moral law; while there is not a text in the Bible which mentions them in connection with the giving of the ceremonial law; and the text in Acts, already quoted, plainly says of the moral law that it was given “by the disposition of angels.” The expression “ordained by angels,” is the one upon which those who argue for the ceremonial law in Galatians, have placed their principal reliance; but even that is against them.

Second, the distinction which is made between the moral and the ceremonial law, namely, that the moral law was spoken by the Lord, and the ceremonial law by Moses, will not hold. The very texts which you cite are against this distinction. I will take the first one, Leviticus 26:46. It reads: “These are the statutes and judgments and laws, which the Lord made between Him and the children of Israel in Mount Sinai by the hand of Moses.” This is the last verse of the chapter. The first two verses of the chapter read thus: “Ye shall make you no idols nor graven image, neither rear you up a standing image, neither shall ye set up any image of stone in your land, to bow down unto it; for I am the Lord your God. Ye shall keep My Sabbaths, and reverence My sanctuary; I am the Lord.” And then the chapter goes on with instructions to keep the commandments of the Lord, to walk in His statutes, tells what judgments shall come upon them if they break the commandments, especially the Sabbath, and closes with the words first quoted. But in all the chapter there is not a shadow of a reference to the ceremonial law.

Your next reference, Numbers 4:37, has no reference to either the moral or the ceremonial law. It simply states that Moses and Aaron numbered the families of the Kohathites, “according to the commandment of the Lord by the hand of Moses.”

Your third reference, Numbers 15:22, 23, has unmistakable reference to the moral law, and to that alone, as will be seen if the twenty-fourth, twenty-fifth, and twenty-sixth verses are read in connection. I will quote them: “And if ye have erred, and not observed all these commandments, which the Lord hath spoken unto Moses, even all that the Lord hath commanded you by the hand of Moses, from the day that the Lord commanded Moses, and henceforward among your generations; then it shall be, if ought be committed by ignorance without the knowledge of the congregation, that all the congregation shall offer one young bullock for a burnt offering. … And the priest shall make an atonement for all the congregation of the children of Israel, and it shall be forgiven them; for it is ignorance; and they shall bring their offering, a sacrifice made by fire unto the Lord, and their sin-offering before the Lord, for their ignorance; and it shall be forgiven all the congregation of the children of Israel.” All this atoning sacrifice was to be made on account of sins against what the Lord commanded by the hand of Moses. But nothing is sin except violation of the ten commandments.

Your last reference, Nehemiah 9:13, 14, may have reference to both the moral and the ceremonial law. I will quote the verses: “Thou camest down also upon Mount Sinai, and spakest with them from Heaven, and gavest them right judgments, and true laws, good statutes and commandments; and madest known unto them Thy holy Sabbath, and commandedst them precepts, statutes, and laws, by the hand of Moses Thy servant.” This is the only text of all to which you have referred, which even by implication refers to the ceremonial law. And it is certainly a strained implication that limits “by the hand of Moses” to the last part of verse 14. All the other texts, at any rate, when they refer to any law at all, refer solely to the moral law, which is said to have been commanded “by the hand of Moses.”

You will perhaps say that I have broken down the distinction between the moral and the ceremonial law, and have opened the way for the enemies of the law to confuse the two. But I have not. I have simply quoted the texts to which you refer, and have shown their exact application. There is no chance for confusion concerning the two laws, for we have this plain distinction: The moral law was spoken by the Lord with an audible voice, from the fire and smoke of Sinai. The ten commandments are all that were given in this manner (Deuteronomy 5:22) and they alone were written on tables of stone by the finger of God. The ceremonial law was given in a more private manner. This certainly forbids any confusion. Both the moral and the ceremonial law, however, are, as we have seen in the texts quoted, said to have been given by the hand of Moses, and both were written in the book of the law.

But there is still this distinction, that the ceremonial law was written only in the book, while the moral law was written on the tables of stone, with the finger of God, and also in a book. That the term, “the law of Moses,” does sometimes refer to the ten commandments, will be evident to anyone who will carefully read Deuteronomy 4:44 to 5:22 and onward; Joshua 23:6, 7; 1 Kings 2:3, 4; 2 Kings 23:24, 25, etc. See also Great Controversy, vol. 2, pp. 217, 218, beginning with last paragraph on page 217. On the other hand, the term “the law of the Lord” is applied to the ceremonial ordinances. For instance, see Luke 2:23, 24. Thus the terms, “the law of Moses,” and “the law of the Lord,” are used interchangeably of both laws.

 

MOSES MEDIATOR?

Third, you say of the latter part of Galatians 3:19, that all agree that this mediator was Moses. I do not agree; and I do not think that the text and the context warrant such an assumption.

The apostle continues in the next verse: “Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one.” Now I turn to 1 Timothy 2:5, and read: “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” God is one party in the transaction, and Christ is the mediator.

I suppose you will not question the statement that Christ was the One who spoke the ten commandments from Mount Sinai. In Great Controversy, vol. 2, page 217 (concerning the sermon on the mount), I read:

“The same voice that declared the moral and the ceremonial law, which was the foundation of the whole Jewish system, uttered the words of instruction on the mount.”

And this is indicated in the text under consideration, and also in Acts 7:38, where Stephen says of Moses:

“This is he that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the Mount Sina, and with our fathers.”

That angel we all understand to be the one that spoke to Moses out of the bush, the one that went before the children of Israel, in whom was the name of God, being none other than our Lord Jesus Christ. If I thought it necessary I could give you plenty of Scripture testimony on this point.

And so the text under consideration, as I have proved in noting your points, teaches that the law was given upon Mount Sinai, because of transgression, that is, that the people might know what sin was, and might appreciate the pardon that was offered in the covenant to Abraham; and that it was thus given till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and the apostle shows the dignity and the value of the law, by the statement that it was disposed, or arranged, or ordained, by angels, in the hand of our great mediator, the Lord Jesus Christ.

"TILL THE SEED COME" MORE FULLY EXPLAINED

I will now give a little attention to the expression, “till the seed should come to whom the promise was made,” and show how it harmonizes with the other expressions in the verse as I have explained them. First, I will quote a reference which you make to that. You say:— “Another argument, a very late invention, designed to avoid the conclusion that the ‘added’ law terminated at the cross, we briefly notice. It is the claim that ‘the seed’ has not yet come, and will not come till the second advent of Christ. It would be hard for the writer to really think that any believer in Christ would take that position, had we not read it in our own beloved Signs of the Times, of July 29, 1886.— p. 46.

If this had been written by some men I should think it was deliberate misrepresentation; for it certainly does woefully misrepresent the view which I take and have published. I have carefully re-read my articles to see if by any unfortunate expression I had conveyed the idea that Christ, the promised seed, has not yet come, and I find no hint of such an idea. I have not, however, the slightest thought that you would willfully misrepresent any person, and I can only attribute your failure to state my position properly, to a too hasty perusal of it. It is not at all surprising to me that in the little time which you had to spare, burdened at the same time with a multitude of cares to distract your mind, you did not grasp the whole of the argument, especially as it was one to which your mind had not been previously directed. But although your misrepresentation was unintentional, it does none the less convey an erroneous impression of my teaching.

The argument which I put forth is not so late an invention as you think. I have held the view for several years, and it was not original with me. But even if it were entirely new, that in itself would be nothing against it; for “every scribe which is instructed into the kingdom of Heaven, is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old.” Matthew 13:52.

It is true that I held, and still hold, that the coming of the seed spoken of in Galatians 3:19, means the second coming of Christ; but that does not imply that Christ has not already come, or that He is not now the seed. You often preach that the Lord is coming, and you no doubt quote such texts of Scripture as Psalm 50:3, 4; 1 Corinthians 4:5, and scores of others. Now if a man hearing you preach such a sermon, should go off and say that you did not believe that the Lord came 1,900 years ago, he would be no more out of the way than you are in saying that I have taught that Christ has not come. In the Old Testament we have many references to the coming of Christ; some of them mean His first advent, and some His second. The only way we can distinguish between them is by the events mentioned in connection with the references to the coming. And so we must decide here in Galatians 3:19.

There is only one ground on which you can claim that the coming of the seed cannot refer to the second coming of Christ, and that is by claiming that He will not be the seed then; that He is the seed only at the first advent. But such a claim cannot stand for a moment, for Christ is as surely the seed when He bruises the serpent’s head, as when He Himself was bruised. He will be the seed when the promise is fulfilled to Him.

The matter, then, stands just this way: Christ is the seed; therefore to say, “till the seed should come,” is equivalent to saying, “till Christ should come.” Then the next point is, does the expression, “the coming of Christ,” necessarily apply to the first advent alone? Certainly it does not, for there are two advents, and the simple expression, “the coming of Christ,” may apply to either. Therefore, so far as the expression, “till the seed should come,” is concerned, there is no reason why it should not apply to the second advent as well as to the first. Indeed, we might say that there is an antecedent probability that it should refer to the second coming of Christ, for that is the more prominent coming of the two, and it is the one which we always think of when the expression is unqualified. But in every case of this kind, the context must decide what coming is referred to.

The application of Galatians 3:19 to the first advent of Christ arises largely, I think, from a careless reading of it. You argue as though it read, “till the seed should come of whom the promise was made.” But it is, “till the seed should come to whom the promise was made.”

The apostle is not dealing with the idea that the seed was promised to Abraham, but he is speaking of the promise that was made to Abraham and to his seed, the seed being Christ. Now if you can find a single promise that was fulfilled to Christ at His first advent, there will be some show of reason in applying Galatians 3:19 to the first advent of Christ. But you cannot. There was absolutely nothing that Christ then received; no part of the promise was fulfilled to Him. He received only rebuffs, reproaches, mockings, poverty, weariness, scourging, and death. Moreover, the promise “to Abraham and his seed” is a joint promise; but certainly no promise was fulfilled to Abraham at the first advent of Christ, for Abraham had then been dead 2,000 years.

That the apostle connects the coming of the seed with the fulfillment of the promise to him, is evident from the simple reading of the text. A certain promise had been made to Abraham and his seed, and a certain thing was given for a special purpose, until the seed to whom the promise was made should come. The idea that inevitably follows from the reading of the text, letting each clause have its proper weight, is that at the coming referred to, the seed will inherit the promise. I shall give something more on this point a little further on.

But there is no need of any conjecture as to what the promise is which is referred to in this verse.

The eighteenth verse reads thus: “For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise; but God gave it to Abraham by promise;” and then the nineteenth verse continues: “Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made.”

This shows most conclusively that the promise referred to is the inheritance. This promised inheritance is the whole world (Romans 4:13); and there is no need of presenting argument to show that the inheritance is still future. Christ has not received it, for we are joint heirs with Him; and when He receives it, Abraham and all those who are His children through faith, will likewise receive it.

This makes of no value your argument that

“the promises to this seed, many of them, reach beyond the second advent,—as does this one [Isaiah 9:6, 7 ]—even into eternity. So, according to this reasoning, we may wait to all eternity for the seed to come.”

That argument, if it proved anything in this connection, would simply prove that the promise to Abraham and to his seed will never be fulfilled, which is contrary to the word of God. But, as we have seen, there are not many promises referred to in this nineteenth verse, but only the one promise, the inheritance, and that promised inheritance will be received at the second coming of Christ and not before.

But you say that even this promise is not fulfilled till the end of the thousand years, and that therefore if the coming of the seed is not till the fulfillment of the promise, “the seed cannot come till the end of the one thousand years; for the land is not inherited by Abraham till that time.”

This argument might indeed be called a “late invention.” I am certain it is a new one among our people. It is true that the saints do not dwell on the earth till the close of the one thousand years, but it is not true that they do not possess it, or inherit it, till that time. If they do not, then what does Christ mean in Matthew 25:31-34, where He says that when He comes in His glory and all the holy angels with Him, He shall sit upon the throne of His glory, shall separate the righteous from the wicked, and shall say to the righteous, “Come, ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”

The mistake into which you fall is in supposing that the saints cannot possess the earth till they dwell upon it. If that were true, it would apply equally to Christ, that He cannot possess it until He dwells upon it; but we read, in Psalm 2:8, 9, these words of the Father to the Son: “Ask of Me, and I shall give Thee the heathen for Thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for Thy possession; Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; Thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”

We learn from this, as well as from Revelation 11:15-19, and other texts, that Christ receives the kingdom just before He comes to this earth. And it is not until after the uttermost parts of the earth are given to Him for His possession, that He dashes the nations in pieces like a potter’s vessel. If Christ did not possess the earth, He would not have the right to do this. The wicked subjects of Satan now claim possession of the earth, which has been promised to Christ. When that promise is fulfilled, and the earth is given into His possession, then He will rid it of those who have usurped dominion. He inherits the earth while the wicked are still upon it, but He cannot dwell upon it until they are removed. We say He cannot dwell upon it, not because he has not the power, but because He cannot take up His abode upon it while it is so impure. The fact, however, that He does with the nations according to His will, rooting them out of the earth, shows that the earth is in His possession.

This same argument applies to the saints. They are joint heirs with Christ. This means that they receive their inheritance at the same time He does. When He comes to this earth, having received His kingdom, He calls them to inherit it with Him. They do not at once dwell upon the earth, but they dwell in its capital, the New Jerusalem, and possession of the capital of any kingdom is usually considered as evidence of the possession of the kingdom itself.

Moreover, the saints during the thousand years sit upon thrones, judging the wicked, and determining the amount of punishment that shall be given to them. Thus they are sharers with Christ in the work of ridding their common possession of its incumbrances. It is just as though you and I should be joint heirs of a farm. At a certain time we are given possession, but we find that it is entirely overrun with thorns and briars; and so before we take up our abode upon it, we clear off this growth of rubbish and burn it up. The wicked are the tares that cumber the farm that is promised to Abraham and his seed; when Abraham and his seed shall be given possession, they will clear it of this foul growth, and then will dwell upon it. This brief argument shows clearly, what I thought was already established among us, namely, that Christ and the saints possess the kingdom when He comes the second time.

Having settled these points, namely, that the “promise” means the inheritance of the earth, and that this promise to Abraham and his seed is fulfilled at Christ’s second coming, we are prepared to go on. The prominent idea in this chapter is by what means the promise is to be obtained. The promise is the uppermost thought in this verse. The apostle is showing that the inheritance is gained solely by faith, that it is not of the law, but of faith in the promise, and then he carries us down to the time when the promise shall be fulfilled. That the “coming” that is referred to is the second coming of Christ, when the promise shall be fulfilled, is a most natural and easy conclusion, and makes harmony of the text. I think you overlooked a parallel text which I quoted in my articles. It is Ezekiel 21:26, 27: “Thus saith the Lord God: Remove the diadem, and take off the crown; this shall not be the same; exalt him that is low, and abase him that is high.

I will overturn, overturn, overturn it; and it shall be no more, until He come whose right it is; and I will give it Him.” Here we have unmistakable reference to the seed, in the words, “He whose right it is.” And it is plainly declared that when “He whose right it is” comes, the inheritance will be given Him. These words were written nearly six hundred years before Christ’s first advent, yet it is not necessary for me to enter into an argument to convince you that the first advent of Christ is not referred to here.

In Galatians 3:19 Paul is speaking of the inheritance, and says, “till the seed should come to whom the promise was made;” in the text just quoted from Ezekiel, the prophet is speaking also of the inheritance, and says, “till He come whose right it is.”

Now why is it any more absurd to say that the first expression refers to the second coming of Christ, than to say that the second refers to that event? If you say that the coming of the seed has no reference to the second advent, because when the coming spoken of takes place the ceremonial law is to terminate, you beg the question entirely. If you say, as you do in your pamphlet, that applying that coming to the second advent, and the law which is spoken of to the moral law, would make the moral law terminate at the second coming of Christ, I have already answered that, for I have shown that “till” does not of necessity mean “termination.”

I believe most emphatically that the law referred to is the moral law, and that the coming of the seed is the second advent of Christ, but I do not believe that the moral law is going to terminate when Christ comes; and Galatians 3:19 does not indicate that it will.

In order to establish your point, that the coming of the seed cannot refer to the second advent of Christ, it would be necessary for you to show that Christ was the seed only at the first advent, and that He is not the seed since then. But Genesis 3:15 says not only that the serpent should bruise the heel of the seed (at the first advent), but that the seed should bruise the serpent’s head (at the second advent). When Christ comes the second time He is still the seed. So when Paul says, “till the seed comes,” it need no more be confined to the first advent than when he says, “till the Lord comes.”

Lest it should be objected that Christ does not bruise Satan’s head at His second coming, but only after the close of the 1,000 years, I will remind you that the wicked are not punished until after the close of the 1,000 years; yet they are said to be punished at the coming of the Lord. And so they are; for the second advent, like the first, covers a period of time. The first advent of Christ covered all the time of His earthly ministry; the second advent covers all the time from the appearance of “the sign of the Son of man in heaven,” until the wicked are destroyed out of the earth.

 

THE SCHOOL MASTER AND THE COMING SEED

The argument thus far on the coming of the seed has been negative, in order to meet some of your objections. I will now give some positive argument that the coming referred to is the second advent.

In doing this I shall also proceed to consider verses 22-25, for they have an intimate connection with verse 19. Verses 24 and 25 read thus: “Wherefore the law was our school-master to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a school-master.” By no manner of reasoning whatever can these verses be made to apply to the ceremonial law. The reference must be to the moral law, and to that alone, as I shall show.

1. The text does not read that the law was our school-master to point us to Christ; if it did there might be some show of reason in applying it to the ceremonial law. But “the law was our school-master to bring us to Christ,” or, literally, “the law was our school-master unto Christ,” that is, the law was our school-master till we came to Christ. Now the ceremonial law brought no one to Christ. The performance of it was an act of faith on the part of the performer, showing the belief he already had in Christ.

2. Faith did not release people from the observance of the ceremonial law; on the contrary, the person did not begin the observance of the ceremonial law until he had faith in Christ.

3. The twenty-second verse says that “before faith came, we were kept under the law;” but before faith came, people did not have anything to do with the ceremonial law.

4. If the ceremonial law were referred to in this verse, then, according to verse 25, we should conclude that as soon as people learned to have faith in Christ they had nothing more to do with the ceremonial law; but the truth is that the patriarchs and prophets were most punctual in their observance of the ceremonial law, and no one had more faith than they. Take the case of David; his writings abound with references to sacrifices and to ceremonies in the court of the Lord’s house. He offered multitudes of sacrifices, yet there is no writer in the Bible who shows a more perfect knowledge of Christ, or who exhibits more faith in Him.

5. But you say that the apostle is reasoning of dispensations, and not of individual experiences, and that bringing them to Christ means bringing them to His first advent, and “to the system of faith there inaugurated.” But that is the weakest position you could take, for if that were the meaning, then it would follow that the law accomplished its purpose only for the generation that lived at Christ’s first advent. No other people ever came to Christ, in the sense in which you use the term. In order for the law to bring men to Christ, in the sense in which you apply it, that is, to His first advent, it would have had to lengthen their lives. Adam would have had to live at least 4,000 years. For, let me again repeat: The text does not say that the law was a school-master to point men to Christ, but to bring them to Him.

6. Again; the text says it brings men to Christ, that they may be justified by faith. Are people justified by faith in a national capacity. I have just shown that, according to the theory that the apostle is arguing of dispensations, only one generation was brought to Christ, namely, the generation that had the good fortune to live at His first advent; but even that generation was not justified by faith. Very few of them had any faith whatever. They didn’t have any faith from first to last. Then they must have remained under the school-master,—the law,—and indeed they did. Justification by faith is an individual, and not a national, matter.

Seventh-day Adventists often speak of the great light which “we as a people” possess. But “we as a people” will derive no benefit from that light unless we as individuals possess it in our own hearts. I repeat, justification by faith is something that each individual must experience for himself. Thousands who lived at Christ’s first advent knew nothing of this experience, while thousands who lived long before He came, were actually brought to Christ for pardon, and they received it. Abel was counted righteous through faith; Noah was heir of the righteousness which is by faith; and Abraham actually saw Christ’s day, and rejoiced in it, although he died 2,000 years before the first advent. And this most positively proves that the apostle, in the third chapter of Galatians, is speaking of individual experience, and not of dispensational changes. There can be no Christian experience, no faith, no justification, no righteousness, that is not an individual matter. People are saved as individuals, and not as nations.

A word of explanation may be in place right here. The term “under the law,” if it be applied to the ceremonial law, cannot have the same meaning that it does when applied to the moral law. When used with reference to the moral law, it means “condemned by the law;” but it cannot have that meaning if it should be applied to the ceremonial law, because that law condemned nobody. So with the supposition that the expression refers to the ceremonial law, we must conclude that not to be under it means not to be subject to it; but when we refer it to the moral law, we come to no such conclusion, because “under the law” means condemned by the law.

7. The strongest argument against the ceremonial law view is found in verse 24: “Wherefore the law was our school-master to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.” Now it is an undeniable fact that the possession of faith led to the offering of sacrifices, and not the offering of sacrifices to faith. “By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain.” Now I ask, How could the ceremonial law lead a man to that which he already had? Since it was faith that prompted Abel and all others to offer sacrifices, how can it be said that those sacrifices served as a school-master to lead them to Christ that they might be justified by faith?

I have already noticed your idea that the word “faith” is here synonymous with “Christ;” that the apostle means that before Christ came we were kept under the law; that the law was our school-master to bring us unto (the first advent of) Christ, that we might be justified by Him; and that verse 25 means that after Christ is come we are no longer under a school-master.

I believe that this is the position that is usually taken by those who hold the ceremonial law view, and it is the only position that can be taken if the ceremonial law is referred to. The only thing that it lacks is proof. There is no warrant whatever for making the term “faith” synonymous with Christ. Besides, if that were true, then the text would teach that no man was justified until Christ’s first coming, which is preposterous and unscriptural. For this reason we must conclude that the ceremonial law is not under consideration in this verse.

It is evident that verses 19 and 24 are closely related, that is, when the law entered, or was added, it was in the capacity of a pedagogue, to bring men to Christ. Now to abolish the law before it has brought to Christ all who can be induced to come to Him, would certainly be an act of injustice. The law must retain its office of pedagogue or task-master, until all have come to Christ who will, and this will not be until probation closes and the Lord comes.

In its office as pedagogue, it is not against the promise, but works in harmony with it. Thus: God made the promise to Abraham that he and his seed should inherit the earth. This promise was made to Abraham, not because of his inherent righteousness, but because of his faith, which was accounted to him for righteousness. The promise was confirmed in Christ, that is, none but those who exercised faith in Christ for the forgiveness of their sins could be heirs of the promise. But forgiveness of sins depends upon repentance of sin, and repentance of sin presupposes a knowledge of sin, and a knowledge of sin can be obtained only by the law. Therefore the law acts as a pedagogue, overseer, or task-master, to overwhelm men with a sense of their sin, that they may flee to Christ to be justified by faith. And this office it must perform until all those who can be influenced to come to Christ have come, and the promise is fulfilled.

Then the law will no longer have the capacity of a task-master. God’s people will all be righteous, walking in the law, and the law will be in their hearts. They will not then need the law written in books or on tables of stone—that is, the added law—because they will have direct access to the throne of God, and will all be taught of God. Thus the law was added, or spoken to be a pedagogue to bring men to Christ; but when all who are worth saving have been brought to Christ, it will cease to have that capacity. But this no more implies the abolition of the law when the Lord comes, than the fact that the law entered at Sinai implies that there was no law before.

There was just as much law before it was spoken upon Mount Sinai and written out for the benefit of mankind, as there is today. And when the law shall cease to be a pedagogue, because it has brought to Christ all who can be induced to come, and all earthly copies of the law shall have been destroyed with the earth, the law will still exist-the foundation of the throne of God, unchanged to all eternity as it has from all eternity.

Perhaps the following from the pen of Elder J. N. Andrews may be considered worthy of perusal. It is from his reply to H. E. Carver, in the Review and Herald of September 16, 1851 (vol. 2, No. 4):—

“The idea that the law is our school-master to bring us to Christ, that we may be justified by faith, is often urged as proof that the law is abolished. How is the law our school-master to bring us to Christ? We answer, It shows our guilt and just condemnation, and that we are lost without a Saviour.

Here the apostle Paul, who was converted since the time when it is said the law was abolished, ‘had not known sin but by the law.’ Romans 7:7. ‘By the law is the knowledge of sin.’ Romans 3:20. Read a full account of Paul’s experience in this school, also his deliverance from the carnal mind, which ‘is not subject to the law of God.’ Romans 7:7-25; 8:1-7.

The instruction of the law is absolutely necessary, for without it we can never know our guilt in the sight of God. It shows our just condemnation, its penalty hangs over our heads; we find ourselves lost, and fly to Jesus Christ. What does He do to save us from the curse of the law? Does He abolish the law that He may save its transgressors? He assures us that He did ‘not come to destroy’ it; and we know that the law being ‘holy, just, and good,’ cannot be taken back, without destroying the government of Him who gave it. Does the Saviour modify its character, and lessen its demands? Far from it. He testifies that ‘one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law till all be fulfilled. Matthew 5:18; Luke l6:17; James 2:10. And He shows that those who in heart commit any act of iniquity, are transgressors of the law. Matthew 5:22, 27, 28; 1 John 3:15.

If the Saviour did not abolish or relax the law, how can those who have fled to Him ‘for refuge,’ hope for salvation? What does He do to save the transgressors from the sentence of the law? He gives up Himself to die in their stead. He lays down His own ‘life a ransom for many.’ Matthew 20:28. ‘God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him, should not perish, but have everlasting life.’ John 3:16. Man, though justly condemned, can now be pardoned without dishonoring God, or making void His law. God can be just, and yet the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. Romans 3:25, 26.

Had the law been abolished at the death of Christ, it could not have been a school-master many years afterward to bring the Galatians to Christ. Paul testifies that he ‘had not known lust except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.’ But an abolished law could never have convinced him of sin as a transgressor. James 2:8, 9; Romans 4:15. We cannot know sin ‘but by the law,’ but if the law was abolished by the death of Christ, the world has never known its sinful state, or realized its need of a Saviour. We may state on the highest authority, that the law brings us to faith for justification, and that faith does not make void the law, but establishes it. Galatians 3:23; Romans 3:31. The fact that the law is our school-master to show us the claims of God, and our own just condemnation, is direct evidence that it has not been abolished, hence, though we have been pardoned through the death of Jesus and thus rescued from its righteous sentence, we can never violate its precepts without being convinced by it as transgressors.”

"THE ROLE OF FAITH"

In your pamphlet (page 50) you make considerable of the words “the faith” or “that faith,” as though the word “faith” were used in a different sense than a personal faith in Christ. But I repeat again,

1. There can be no faith except faith in Christ. And

2. faith in Christ is a personal matter; each one must have faith for himself.

Therefore the coming of faith is to each individual as an individual, and not to any people as a class. For the same reason also I cannot accept your statement that “the faith” refers to “the whole system of truth devised by God for the salvation of men,” and that its coming refers to the revelation of Christ at His first advent. If that were true, it would prove that the system of truth devised by God for the salvation of men, was not known till Christ came, which is so evidently unscriptural as to need no comment.

The theory which you hold, when traced to its conclusion, inevitably makes God have two plans of salvation, one for the people before the coming of the Lord, and another for those after. It makes the Jews judged by one standard, and the Gentiles by another. But the position which I have briefly outlined is consistent with itself, and is consistent with the plainly revealed truth of Scripture concerning the plan of salvation.

 

"KEPT IN BONDAGE"

You say (page 51):—

“We would be much pleased to have our friends who hold that this ‘added’ law was the ten commandments, tell us how the law against blasphemy, murder, lying, stealing, etc., ‘shut individuals up,’ ‘guard’ them ‘in ward,’ in the relation of a ‘child to a guardian,’ to a ‘revelation’ to be made ‘afterwards.’”

This I can readily do. First, sinners are, in the Bible, represented as being in bondage, in prison. See 2 Peter 2:l9; Romans 7:14; 2 Peter 3:19, 20; Zechariah 9:l2; Isaiah 61:l; Psalms 68:6; l02:l9, 20; Acts 8:23; Hebrews 2:14, 15. Note this last text particularly. Christ died to “deliver them who through fear of death were all their life-time subject to bondage.”

It is sin that brings the fear of death, therefore it is sin that causes men to be subject to bondage.

Second, whenever men are in prison, it is the law that puts them there. Only a few weeks ago I heard a Judge pronounce the death sentence upon a murderer, and I took particular note of his statement that he was compelled to pronounce the sentence; that he was simply the law’s agent; that since the man had been found guilty, the law demanded his death, and that he was simply the mouthpiece of the law.

It is the law which arrests the criminal; the sheriff is simply the visible agent of the law. It is the law which locks the prisoner in his cell; the jailer, the iron walls, and heavy bars which surround the prisoner, are simply the emblems of the iron hand of the law which is upon him. If the government is just, and if the man is indeed guilty, there is no way in which he can escape the punishment, unless he has a powerful advocate who can secure his pardon from the Governor.

So it is with the sinner against God’s government. The eyes of the Lord are in every place, so that there is no possibility that he can escape arrest. As soon as he has sinned, he is seized by the law, and is at once under condemnation of death, because it has already been declared that the wages of sin is death. Now he is shut in on every side by the law. There is not one of the commandments which is not against him, because there is not a man on earth who has not broken every one of them.

At first the sinner may not be conscious of his imprisonment; he has no sense of sin, and does not try to escape. But when the law is so applied to him that he can realize its claims and his failure to meet them, he is convicted. To carry out the figure, we might say that the Spirit of God causes the prison walls to close in upon him, his cell becomes narrower, and he feels oppressed; and then he makes desperate struggles to escape.

He starts out in one way, but there the first commandment rises up against him and will not let him go free. He turns in another direction, but he has taken the name of God in vain, and the third commandment refuses to let him get his liberty in that direction. Again he tries, but he has committed adultery, and the seventh commandment presents an impenetrable barrier in that direction, and prevents his escape. So with all the commandments. They utterly refuse to grant him liberty, because he has violated every one of them, and only those who keep the commandments can walk at liberty. Psalm 119:45. He is completely shut in on every side.

There is, however, just one avenue of escape, and that is through Christ. Christ is the door (John 10:9), and entrance through that door gives freedom (John 8:36). Since the sinner is in prison, and cannot get freedom except through faith in Christ, it is exactly the truth to say that he is “shut up,” to the faith which may be revealed to him. The translation “kept in ward,” affects the case for you not in the least. It is the same as saying that we were kept in prison. Pharaoh’s butler and baker were put “in ward,” in the same prison where Joseph was. Genesis 40:3.

Now it is not the Jews alone who are spoken of as “shut up.” You yourself say that the Jews were in as bad case as the Gentiles were. The twenty-second verse of this third of Galatians also says that “the Scripture hath concluded [literally, “shut up together”] all under sin.”

This shows in what the shutting up consists. They are in jail because they have sinned. So Paul says to the Jews, “What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise; for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin.” Romans 3:9. And again he says that “God hath concluded them all [margin, “shut them all up together”] in unbelief.” Romans 11:32. These statements are identical with that in Galatians.

Now notice that in all places the shutting up is said to be for the same purpose. Galatians 3:22 says that the Scripture hath concluded or shut up all under sin, “that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.” In the third of Romans Paul shows that Jews and Gentiles are alike under sin, in order to prove that “the righteousness of God, which is by faith of Jesus Christ,” may be “unto all and upon all them that believe; for there is no difference; for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” Verses 22-24. And in Romans 11:32 he states that God hath shut them all up together (both Jews and Gentiles) in unbelief, “that He might have mercy upon all.” All are in the same bondage—all are under the law—and none can be delivered from their prison until they come to Christ. He is the only door to freedom.

Let me ask you if you think that it is the ceremonial law that shuts men up under sin? If you do, then you hold that the ceremonial law is a rule of righteousness, and thereby you detract from the ten commandments. But if you do not hold this opinion, and I cannot believe that you do, then you admit that it is the moral law that shuts men up and acts as their task-master, to drive them to Christ; that they may be justified by faith. How anybody can hold a different view, I cannot imagine.

 

"UNDER THE LAW"

Again you say:—

“We claim that this expression, ‘under the law,’ has two significations: (1) Primarily meaning under the authority of the law, or under obligation to keep it; (2) under the condemnation of the law, with its penalty impending over us, or already suffering it. The expression itself does not decide which of these meanings is to be understood; the connection must decide that.”

It would have been more to the point if you had quoted some instances outside of the one under discussion, to show that “under the law” is ever used in the sense of “subject to the law.”

To be sure, you quote from Greenfield’s Lexicon, where it is stated that the word hupo is used with the sense “of subjection to the law.” But you should remember that it is the province of lexicons simply to give the meaning of a word, and not to decide upon points of doctrine. When Greenfield says that hupo means “under,” he states a simple truth; but when he says that it is used in the sense of “subjection to the law,” he gives merely his opinion upon a text of Scripture; and his opinion on the meaning of a text of Scripture is no better than that of any other man.

Indeed, I think that if you had examined Greenfield a little more closely you would have left his opinion in this matter out entirely, for he cites Romans 6:14 as an instance of the use of the word hupo in the sense of “subjection to the law,” and that is the only text that he does give as an illustration. There is no more doubt in your mind than there is in mine that that text refers to the moral law, and to that alone. So if you accept Greenfield as a commentator, you will read that text thus: “For ye are not subject to the law, but under grace.” This would suit the enemies of the truth, but I know that you do not accept it.

Your argument from Greenfield is certainly an unfortunate one for you.
You say:

“Greenfield gives a variety of definitions [comments, you should have said], such as the sense in many places requires, one of which is, ‘of subjection to law,’ etc. He gives no instance where it is used in the sense of being subject to the condemnation of the law.”

That is, he gives no instance where he thinks it is used in the sense of under the condemnation of the law. And the instance he gives where he thinks it is used in the sense of subject to the law, is one where it does unquestionably mean condemned by the law. I have not time here to give an exposition of every text where the expression “under the law” occurs; I have done this in my articles, and you have not noticed or attempted to overthrow a single position which I took upon those texts. I therefore repeat that (with the exception of Romans 3:19 and 1 Corinthians 9:21, where the word hupo is not found, and which should properly be translated “in the law”) the term “under the law,” wherever it occurs in the New Testament, means “condemned by the law.” It never has any other signification. Christians are all subject to the moral law, but they are not under it. If they were under it they would not be Christians.

You say:—

“The moral law never led a man to Christ and left him. It always stays with him. We may be delivered from its condemnation; but its supreme authority must be regarded then as before. Its claims never leave us.”

I agree with that most heartily, The law does not leave the man when he comes to Christ, but the man’s relation to it is changed. Before he was “under the law,” now he is “in the law” (Psalm 119:l) and the law is in him (Psalm 37:31). He is in Christ, who is the personification of the law, and in Him he is made the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21.

"LAW, GRACE AND THE CONSCIENCE"

Again you say of the moral law:—

“There is nothing in that law about Christ, not a hint. All the law does, is to condemn those who break it, and justify those who keep it. It is the sense of guilt in the man’s conscience, which is acted upon by the Spirit of God, which makes him go to Christ; not anything in the moral law itself.”

This admits my whole argument. Pray tell me what makes the sense of guilt in the man’s conscience? Paul says that “by the law is the knowledge of sin.” Have you found something else besides the law of God, which will make a man conscious of his sinful condition?

If conscience has the power in itself to make a man conscious of his guilt, what office, pray tell me, has the law? What is the use of the law, if the conscience alone convicts of sin? And if conscience possesses the quality of making a man conscious of his guilt, why is it that all men are not equally conscious of guilt? The reason, and the only reason that can be given, is that some men are better instructed in the law than others are. You cannot escape the conclusion that it is the law which produces the sense of guilt in the man’s conscience, by which he is driven to Christ, unless you deny that by the law is the knowledge of sin.

Since it is the sense of guilt in the man’s conscience that makes him go to Christ, and nothing but the law can produce a sense of guilt, it is emphatically the law which drives men to Christ. That is the office of the law to sinful men—to overwhelm them with a sense of guilt, and so to drive them to Christ that they may be justified by faith.

True, the ten commandments say nothing about Christ, but does the sense of guilt in the man’s conscience say anything about Christ? That is, does every man have naturally a knowledge of Christ? Of course not. But the law begets in the man a consciousness of guilt. The law does this only by the aid of the Spirit, of course, for the word of God is the Spirit’s sword. But when the law, through the Spirit, has produced this sense of guilt, the man feels oppressed and seeks for ease from his load, and is forced to go to Christ, because there is nowhere else that he can go.

In trying to avoid my conclusion, you have in the above quotation deliberately walked into it. There was nothing else that you could do.

 

"WERE ISRAELITES JUSTIFIED BY FAITH OR BY LAW?"

You continue:—

“But this ‘added’ law did lead to Christ. Every type, every sacrifice, every feast day, holy day, new moon, and annual Sabbath, and all the priestly offerings and services pointed out something in the work of Christ. They were as a body ‘shut up,’ ‘guarded,’ under the control of this ‘severe,’ ‘imperious’ pedagogue, till the great system of justification by faith was reached at the cross of Christ. Mr. Greenfield could readily see that this pedagogue must be used as an illustration of the ‘Mosaic law.’ It is strange that all others cannot see the same.”

Here you yourself admit the charge which I have brought against your theory, namely, that it virtually makes two plans of salvation.

If the “great system of justification by faith” was not reached till the cross of Christ, pray tell me whether anybody was ever justified before Christ came, and if so, how?

My reading of the Bible convinces me that “the great system of justification by faith” was known as soon as sin entered into the world. I read that “by faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous.” Hebrews 11:4. And in Psalms 32:1, 2; 68:6, 13; Isaiah 1:18; 53:10, 11; 65:6, 7; Habakkuk 2:4, and scores of similar texts, I find the clearest reference to the great system of justification by faith.

Some say that we have a better knowledge of the plan of salvation than the ancients had. Indeed, in one meeting of the Theological Committee, both you and Elder Canright claimed that the patriarchs had very limited, if any, knowledge of Christ’s real work; and you sustained Elder Canright in his assertion that Christ introduced the gospel at His first advent. I do not think that you would have taken such a stand, only that your theory drove you to it. But Christ and Paul based all their instruction concerning that great system upon the Old Testament, and I have never seen a man with so much knowledge of God that he could not study with profit the words of David and Isaiah concerning justification by faith.

In Great Controversy, vol. 1, in the paragraph beginning at the bottom of page 58, I read that angels held communication with Adam after his fall, and informed him of the plan of salvation. Certainly if Adam was ignorant of the great system of justification by faith, it was not because of the incompetency of his teachers.

After the battles which we have had to wage with Campbellites concerning the value of the Old Testament Scriptures, and the unity and universality of God’s plan of salvation, it seems almost incredible that anyone should be called on to defend, against Seventh-day Adventists, the idea that the well-informed Jew had a full knowledge of Christ, and was justified only through faith.

The quotation from your pamphlet which I made last, closes thus:

“Mr. Greenfield could readily see that this pedagogue must be used as an illustration of the ‘Mosaic law.’ It is strange that all others cannot see the same.”

I might with equal propriety say, “Mr. Greenfield could readily see that Christians ought to keep the first day of the week; it is strange that others cannot see the same.” Or again I might say, “Mr. Greenfield could readily see that the expression ‘under the law,’ in Romans 6:14, means ‘subject to the law;’ it is strange that others cannot see the same.” The only strange thing I can see about it is that you should use such an argument as that. I care nothing for what a man says. I want to know what God says. We do not teach for doctrine the word of men, but the word of God. I am verily convinced that you would not quote Greenfield if you could find Scripture argument instead.

Again on page 64 I read:—

“All God now requires is a humble heart, repentance, and confession of sin, faith in the precious blood of Christ, and a determination to serve God and obey all His requirements.”

This you say of the time after Christ, and it still further emphasizes the charge which I bring against your theory, that it makes two plans of salvation. Can you tell me what else or more than that God required of the Jews? Were they accepted in any other way than by humility of heart, repentance, confession of sins, faith in the blood of Christ, and a determination to obey God? Nay, verily.

 

THE ELEMENTS OF THE WORLD

I will now pass to a brief notice of your comments on chapter four; and first your arguments on the “elements of the world.”

You say (page 58):—

“What are these ‘elements’ which the apostle speaks of, in which they were in bondage until God sent forth His Son made under the law? Are they the commandments of God, the law of liberty, that holy, pure law which will be the rule in the Judgment? We think this would be a conclusion most absurd. We claim with great confidence that these ‘elements’ refer to a different system. The original word is defined by Greenfield: ‘Elementary instruction, first principles, the lowest rudiments in knowledge, science, etc.’ The word is translated ‘rudiments’ in the revised version and in the Diaglott. The same word occurs in Colossians 2:20, where it is translated ‘rudiments.’”

I have never been guilty of the absurdity of claiming that these “elements” are the commandments of God. I am just as confident as you are that they refer to something else.

Paul tells me what they are, when he says they are the “elements of the world.”

You say this means the ceremonial law. Will you please tell me what the world had to do with the ceremonial law? If the ceremonial law was the elements of the world, then the world ought to have adopted it, instead of despising the Jews because of it, for we know that the world will love its own. And will you tell me how you reconcile the statement that the ceremonial law is the elements of the world, with your previous statement that it was “given by angels”?

It does not change the argument a particle to translate the word “rudiments.” I readily grant that the rudiments of the world in Colossians 2:20, mean the same as the “elements of the world” in Galatians 4:3. I also claim, what I think you will hardly deny, that the term “rudiments” in Colossians 2:8 has the same meaning that it has in the twentieth verse. It is precisely the same term.

Now in Testimony No. 7, in the chapter on “Philosophy and Vain Deceit,” Sister White quotes Colossians 2:8, and says that she was shown that this verse has especial reference to Spiritualism. That is, philosophy and vain deceit, or Spiritualism, is “after the rudiments of the world.”

Will you claim that there is any connection whatever between the ceremonial law and Spiritualism? Is Spiritualism according to the ceremonial law which God gave to the Jews? Impossible. But it is according to the elements of the world, to the carnal mind, which is enmity against God; it is “according to the course of this world [according to the rudiments, or elements of the world], according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience; among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind,” when “we were by nature the children of wrath.” Ephesians 2:2, 3. The “elements of the world” are “the things that are in the world,” namely, “the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.” 1 John 2:15, 16. These are not “of the Father,” but are “of the world;” they are practiced by those who know not God, and to these things we were all subject before we were quickened by grace. It is not, as you say, on page 57, that “their being under these ‘elements,’ or ‘rudiments,’ brought them into ‘bondage,“’ but their being under these elements was in itself the bondage—the bondage of corruption.

CHRIST BORN UNDER THE LAW

On page 58 is a paragraph which contains some points that I wish especially to notice, and so I quote it entire. It is the following:— 58

“In verse four, where Paul speaks of God’s sending forth His Son, made of a woman, we have the expression, ‘made under the law.’ We have already considered the meaning of this term, ‘under the law,’ and have already shown that it does not always mean under the condemnation of the law, but rather under the authority of the law, or under obligation to keep it. The term evidently has this meaning here. Both the revised version and the Diaglott translate ‘made under the law,’ ‘born under the law.’
Greenfield, in the definition of the original word, which has a great variety of significations, quotes its use in this fourth verse with the definition, ‘subject to the law.’ This evidently is the correct sense in which it should be used. It is not true that our Saviour was born under the condemnation of the law of God. This would be manifestly absurd. That he did voluntarily take the sins of the world upon Him in His great sacrifice upon the cross, we admit; but he was not born under its condemnation. Of Him that was pure, and had never committed a sin in His life, it would be an astonishing perversion of all proper theology to say he was born under the condemnation of God’s law.”

1. Concerning the meaning of the term, “under the law,” you say that you have shown that “it does not always mean under the condemnation of the law, but rather under the authority of the law, or under obligation to keep the law.” I have carefully reread all previous references to it, and while I find several assertions to that effect, I find not one item of proof.

To be sure you quote from Greenfield, but I don’t consider his assertion as of any more value than that of any other man. I cannot take the space here to quote all the occurrences of the term, “under the law,” and show its meaning; but I wish to make this point: In Romans 6:14, 15, and Galatians 5:18, the expression occurs, and there cannot be the slightest doubt but that it means “condemned by the law.” You would not dare give it the meaning, “subject to the law,” in those places. There can be no controversy concerning its use in those texts.

Now it is a fixed principle in biblical interpretation that controverted texts must be settled by appeal to texts which are uncontroverted. Moreover, consistency requires that any term should have the same meaning wherever it occurs in the Bible, unless the context shows beyond question that it must have a different meaning.

Now there is no place in the Bible where it does not make good sense to interpret “under the law” as “condemned by the law.” But in the texts which I have just referred to, it cannot possibly mean “subject to the law.” If the limits of this review would warrant it, I would show by positive evidence from Scripture, and not by quotations from commentaries; that “under the law” invariably means “condemned by the law,” and that it cannot by any possibility mean anything else. Of course I except the two places, 1 Corinthians 9:21 and Romans 3:19, where it is not found in the original.

2. I must protest once more against your dependence upon the opinion of commentators. You say: “Greenfield, in the definition of the original word, which has a great variety of significations, quotes its use in this fourth verse, with the definition, ‘subject to the law.’ This is evidently the correct sense in which it should be used.”

Why is it evidently the sense in which it should be used? Because Greenfield says so? Must we accept everyone of Greenfield’s opinions as of final authority in matters of faith? I am not prepared to do this. Do not misunderstand me. I am not casting any reflections upon Greenfield as a lexicographer, but as a commentator. When Greenfield gives a simple definition of a word, it is to be accepted, provided it agrees with the definition given in the classical lexicons; for words are not used in Scripture in a special, scriptural sense, but in their ordinary acceptation. But when Greenfield, or any other man, says that a word which has several different shades of meaning is used in a certain sense in any specified text, he is simply giving his opinion, not of the meaning of the word, but of the meaning of the text. And when he does that, anybody may challenge his opinion, and demand the proof.

If we are to quote the opinions of men as authority, on points of doctrine, we might as well turn Papists at once; for to pin one’s faith to the opinions of man is of the very essence of the Papacy. It matters not whether we adhere to the opinions of one man, or to the opinions of forty; whether we have one Pope or forty. Because a man has written a commentary on the Bible, or on any part of it, that is no reason why his opinion should pass unchallenged. He is only a man still. Seventh-day Adventists, of all people in the world, ought to be free from dependence upon the mere opinion of men. They should be Protestants indeed, testing everything by the Bible alone.

3. Now as to the rendering of the expression “under the law,” in Galatians 4:4. I have no fault to find with the rendering, “born under the law,” but think that it is the correct rendering. I will go farther than you do, and will offer some Scripture evidence on this point. John 1:1, 14: “in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.” The word rendered “made” is the same as that in Galatians 4:4, and evidently signifies “born.” The Word was God, yet was born flesh of the Virgin Mary. I don’t know how it could be so; I simply accept the Bible statement. Now read Romans 8:3, and you will learn the nature of the flesh which the Word was made:— “For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh.” Christ was born in the likeness of sinful flesh.

Philippians 2:5-7: “Have this mind in you, which was also in Christ Jesus; who, being in the form of God, counted it not a prize to be on an equality with God, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men.” Revised version. Now note the next verse: “And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, becoming obedient even unto death, yea, the death of the cross.” And now compare the above with,
Hebrews 2:9: “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that He by the grace of God should taste death for every man.”

These texts show that Christ took upon Himself man’s nature, and that as a consequence He was subject to death. He came into the world on purpose to die; and so from the beginning of His earthly life He was in the same condition that the men are in whom He died to save.

Now read, Romans 1:3: The gospel of God, “concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David accord ing to the flesh.”

What was the nature of David, “according to the flesh”? Sinful, was it not? David says: “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.” Psalm 51:5.

Don’t start in horrified astonishment; I am not implying that Christ was a sinner. I shall explain more fully in a few moments. But first I wish to quote, Hebrews 2:16, 17: “For verily He took not on Him the nature of angels; but He took on Him the seed of Abraham. Wherefore in all things it behooved Him to be made like unto His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.”

His being made in all things like unto His brethren, is the same as His being made in the likeness of sinful flesh, “made in the likeness of men.” One of the most encouraging things in the Bible is the knowledge that Christ took on Him the nature of man; to know that His ancestors according to the flesh were sinners.

When we read the record of the lives of the ancestors of Christ, and see that they had all the weaknesses and passions that we have, we find that no man has any right to excuse his sinful acts on the ground of heredity. If Christ had not been made in all things like unto His brethren, then His sinless life would be no encouragement to us. We might look at it with admiration, but it would be the admiration that would cause hopeless despair.

And now as another parallel to Galatians 4:4, and a further source of encouragement to us, I will quote,
2 Corinthians 5:21: “For He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.”

Now when was Jesus made sin for us? It must have been when He was made flesh, and began to suffer the temptations and infirmities that are incident to sinful flesh. He passed through every phase of human experience, being “in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.”

He was a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.” “He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows” (Isaiah 53:4); and this scripture is said by Matthew to have been fulfilled long before the crucifixion. So I say that His being born under the law was a necessary consequence of His being born in the likeness of sinful flesh, of taking upon Himself the nature of Abraham. He was made like man, in order that He might undergo the suffering of death. From the earliest childhood the cross was ever before Him.

4. You say:

“That He did voluntarily take the sins of the world upon Him in His great sacrifice upon the cross, we admit; but He was not born under its condemnation. Of Him that was pure, and had never committed a sin in His life, it would be an astonishing perversion of all proper theology to say that He was born under the condemnation of the law.”

It may be a perversion of theology, but it is exactly in harmony with the Bible, and that is the main point. Can you not see that your objection lies as much against your position as it does against mine?

You are shocked at the idea that Jesus was born under the condemnation of the law, because He never committed a sin in His life. But you admit that on the cross He was under the condemnation of the law. What! had He then committed sin? Not by any means. Well, then, if Jesus could be under the condemnation of the law at one time in His life, and be sinless, I see no reason why He could not be under the condemnation of the law at another time, and still be sinless. And Paul declares that God did make Him to be sin for us.

I simply give Scripture facts; I don’t attempt to explain them.

“Without controversy, great is the mystery of godliness.” I cannot understand how God could be manifest in the flesh, and in the likeness of sinful flesh. I do not know how the pure and holy Saviour could endure all the infirmities of humanity, which are the result of sin, and be reckoned as a sinner, and suffer the death of a sinner. I simply accept the Scripture statement, that only so could He be the Saviour of men; and I rejoice in that knowledge, because since He was made sin, I may be made the righteousness of God in Him.

What a wonder! Christ had all the glory of Heaven; we had nothing; and so He “emptied Himself,” became nothing, in order that we might be glorified together with Him, and inherit all things. Christ was sinless, the very embodiment of holiness; we were vile and full of sin, having no good thing in us; He was made sin in order that we might be partakers of His righteousness. Christ was immortal, having life in Himself; we were mortal, doomed to eternal death; He suffered death for us, in order that we might share His immortality. He went to the very lowest depths to which man had fallen, in order that He might lift man to His own exalted throne; yet He never ceased to be God, or lost a particle of His holiness.

5. Again; why was Jesus baptized? He said that it was “to fulfill all righteousness.” We may not say that it was simply as an example; for that would be really denying the vicarious nature of the atonement. It must have been for the same reason that He died, namely, for sin. Not His own sin, but ours; for as in His death, so in His life, our sins were counted as His. And thus it is that He could be all His life, even from His birth, under the condemnation of the law. It was not on His own account, but on ours.

I think that I have shown clearly, by abundance of Scripture testimony, that Christ was born under the condemnation of the law, and that this was necessarily incident to the fact that He was born of a woman; “for man that is born of woman is of few days, and full of trouble;” and this was literally true of Christ. He was in all things like His brethren, in His life of temptation and suffering, and even to length of days; for His earthly life was exactly the length of an average human life.

6. I must make one more argument, taking your standpoint. I will allow for the moment, what is not true, that “under the law” means “subject to the law,” and that the law referred to is the ceremonial law. Now the statement is that Christ was made “under the law, to redeem them that were under the law.” He redeems none who were not in the condition which He was made. And since only the Jews were subject to the ceremonial law, your theory would make it that He came to save only the Jews. I am glad that a proper interpretation does not oblige us to limit the plan of salvation in this way. Christ died for all men; all men were under the condemnation of the law of God; and so He was made under its condemnation. By the grace of God He tasted death for every man.

7. But this requires that I should show another absurdity in which your theory lands you. The ceremonies of the Mosaic ritual were simply the gospel ordinances for that time. They were the things by which the people manifested their faith in the gospel of Christ. But your theory, besides making Christ die for the sole purpose of allowing the Jews to stop offering lambs, etc., makes Him die to deliver them from the gospel. If that were true, what kind of state would they then be in? And again it makes Christ die to redeem men from that which had no power to condemn. In short, it nullifies the whole plan of salvation, and makes nonsense of it. And so it is most positively proved that Galatians 4:4, 5 cannot by any possibility refer to what is commonly called the ceremonial law. It does refer to the moral law, by which all men are condemned, and from the condemnation of which Christ redeems all who believe in Him, making them sons and heirs of God.

MORE ON THE "ELEMENTS OF THIS WORLD"

In your claim that these elements refer to the ceremonial law you say:—

“The language concerning ‘elements of the world’—these ‘weak and beggarly elements’ to which they desired to return, under which they had been in servitude—it is utterly inconsistent to apply to the law which is ‘spiritual,’ ‘holy, just, and good.’”—p. 60.

That is exactly the truth. Those elements of this world, those weak and beggarly elements, must be the exact opposite to the pure and holy law of God; and the opposite of that holy, just, and good law is sin. And sin, as I have already shown, is the elements of the world. It is that which worldly men practice by nature. It is that which comes naturally from the human heart (Mark 7:21-23], and which, therefore, are the first things—the elements—that people practice.

I marvel how you can read Galatians 4:3 in connection with verses 8-10, and then say that the ceremonial law is referred to. Those elements to which they had been in bondage, and to which they wished to return, were the elements which they practiced when they knew not God, and the service which they did to them that were no gods.

You yourself say:
“The language clearly shows that the persons referred to had in some period of their lives been the worshipers of other gods.”
Then why not frankly admit that these elements to which they had been in bondage were the sinful practices of licentious idolaters?

But I pass to your crowning argument on this point. I quote from page 65:—

“The identification of these ‘elements of the world’—these ‘weak and beggarly elements’ into which the Galatians desired to return into bondage—with the ceremonial law, is an important link in this argument. There can be no question but that our position on this point is correct. Dr. Schaff, in his comments on these ‘rudiments,’ says: ‘According to my view, the expression applies in any case only to Judaism, especially to the law (an apostle Paul could not possibly comprehend heathenism and Judaism under one idea, regarding them thus as virtually equivalent).’ We trust our friends who sometimes endeavour to apply these ‘rudiments’ partially to heathenism, will consider this well. “Dr. Clarke says, ‘On rudiments of the world,’ ‘the rudiments or principles of the Jewish religion.’ He says, also, that the ‘weak and beggarly elements were the ceremonies of the Mosaic law.’ Dr. Scott takes the same position.”

If it were not so serious a matter, it would be amusing to see the argument which you bring to identify the elements of the world with the ceremonial law. One would think that on this point, which you say is an important link, and which is indeed the point upon which your theory must stand or fall, you would pile up the Scripture argument; and so indeed you would, if there were any to pile up; but instead we have the opinion of Dr. Schaff, Dr. Clarke, and Dr. Scott—three very good men, no doubt, but three men who are responsible for a vast amount of doctrinal error and false theology.

After quoting Dr. Schaff’s view that these weak and beggarly elements apply only to Judaism, you say:

“We trust our friends who sometimes endeavor to apply these ‘rudiments’ partially to heathenism, will consider this well.”

Has it come to this among Seventh-day Adventists, that the mere opinion of a doctor of divinity must be accepted as final in any discussion? Is Dr. Schaff so unimpeachable an authority that when he speaks no tongue may wag dissent?

Let me construct an argument from Dr. Schaff. He says:—
“The Christian Church keeps the first day of the week, which celebrates the close of the spiritual creation, just as the last day celebrates the close of the physical creation. We have the fullest warrant for this change.”—Bible Dictionary, art. Sabbath.

And now having announced this dictum of the infallible Dr. Schaff, the Sunday-keeper may say, “We trust our friends who still regard Saturday as the Sabbath will consider this well.” Would you admit such an argument as worthy of a moment’s consideration? Would you say, “There can be no question but that this position is correct,” because Dr. Schaff says so? I know you would not; yet if you really regard your argument on Galatians 4:8 as of any value at all, you will be obliged to accept it.

I want to call special attention to your argument here, in order to reveal the inherent weakness of your position. You say that the “elements of the world”—those “weak and beggarly elements”—are identical with the ceremonial law. Then you add, “There can be no question but that our position on this point is correct.” If there can be no question on this point, it must be because it is so well fortified by the clearest proof as to admit of no argument. And what is the proof which you quote? The mere words of Dr. Schaff, Dr. Barnes, and Dr. Scott.

Then the inevitable conclusion is that you regard the statement of those men as sufficient to establish any point of doctrine. But I do not. I don’t consider their statement as sufficient to establish any doctrine. I don’t consider their statement sufficient to help, even to the slightest degree, to establish any point of doctrine. Further, I do not consider the statement of any man on earth as of sufficient weight to help establish any point of doctrine. The word of God alone can decide what is right; it alone can establish a point of doctrine; and when it has spoken, nothing that any man can say can make the case any stronger. And when a thing cannot be proved by the Bible, it cannot be proved by what any man says, no matter how good he is.

All men understand this; all men know that the word of God is better than that of any man; and so they always appeal to the Bible instead of to man, whenever they have anything that can be sustained by the Bible. I sincerely hope that at this late day we shall not have introduced among us the custom of quoting the opinion of doctors of divinity to support any theory. When our Sunday friends quote the opinions of commentators concerning the supposed change of the Sabbath, we all say that it is because they have no scriptural authority to bring forward. If I am wrong in arriving at the same conclusion concerning your quotation to prove the identity of the ceremonial law with the elements of the world, I trust you will pardon me, and will convince me of my error by bringing forward some Scripture evidence.

If you want the opinion of a man on this subject, I will quote one for you. It is the opinion of a man whom I regard as being as much superior to Dr. Schaff as a biblical expositor, as Dr. Schaff is superior to me in the knowledge of Greek and Latin. I refer to Elder J. N. Andrews. In his work The History of the Sabbath, in the foot-note on page 186 I find the following statement concerning Galatians 4:10.

“To show that Paul regarded Sabbatic observance as dangerous, Galatians 4:l0 is often quoted: notwithstanding the same individuals claim that Romans 14 proves that it is a matter of perfect indifference; they not seeing that this is to make Paul contradict himself. But if the connection be read from verses 9-11, it will be seen that the Galatians before their conversion were not Jews, but heathen; and that these days, months, times, and years, were not those of the Levitical law, but those which they had regarded with superstitious reverence while heathen. Observe the stress which Paul lays on the word ‘again’ in verse 9.”

I cannot refrain from saying that I trust our friends who sometimes endeavor to apply these “rudiments” to the ceremonial law “will consider this well.”

I will add, also, the following from Elder Andrews:—

“The bondage of the Jewish church did not consist in that God had given them His law, but because they were its transgressors—the servants of sin. John 8:33-36. The freedom of the children of ‘Jerusalem which is above,’ does not consist in that the law has been abolished, but in that they have been made free from sin. Romans 6:22.”—Review and Herald, vol. 2, No. 4.

 

REJECTORS OF GRACE DESIRE TO BE UNDER CONDEMNATION?

But I must not prolong this letter much further. I pass to a brief notice of your strictures upon my argument upon Galatians 4:21. You say:—

“Here we have the expression ‘under the law’ repeated once more. We have already dwelt at some length upon this phrase, and have claimed that its uses in the letter to the Galatians referred to being subject to the law, under its authority.

But one of our friends who is enthusiastic in his devotion to the view that the law in Galatians is the moral law, goes so far as to claim that in every case where this expression is used, it signifies being in a state of sin or condemnation; i.e., in a position where the penalty of the law hangs over one’s head. That penalty is the ‘second death’ in ‘the lake of fire.’

We have, then, according to that view, these Galatian brethren desiring to be in a state of guilt, which would expose them to the lake of fire. ‘Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law,’ with this equivalent expression substituted, would read, Tell me, ye that desire to be under the condemnation of the law—Tell me, ye that desire the condemnation of the second death.

We have known men to desire many strange things, but we never before knew one to desire the second death. But if that view of the subject is correct, and this jaw is the moral law, and all these expressions ‘under the law’ mean under its condemnation, then we have no possible escape from this conclusion. But to think of these new, zealous converts to Christianity desiring to go into a state of condemnation, exposed to such a doom, is too preposterous for a moment’s consideration.”

I gladly acknowledge that I am the identical one of your friends who has claimed that in every case where the expression “under the law” occurs in the original, it signifies “being in a state of sin or condemnation, that is, in a position where the penalty of the law hangs over one’s head.” And I trust that I shall never be counted as your enemy because I tell you this truth.

You make sport of this idea, and say that you never knew anyone who desired the second death. My knowledge is not very extensive, but I have known that very thing. In the eighth chapter of Proverbs, Wisdom, which is the fear of God, is personified and in the last verse of that chapter she says, “All them that hate me love death.” There you have a plain Bible statement that there are some that love death. It is not to be supposed that men deliberately desire death, but they do deliberately choose and love the course which must result in death, and consequently they are said to love death.

In Acts 13:45 we read that Paul and Barnabas said to the Jews who had rejected the word of God, “contradicting and blaspheming:” “Seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.” Here we have a similar statement. The apostle did not mean to indicate that those self-conceited Jews thought that they were not fit to enter Heaven; on the contrary, they thought that they were the only ones who were worthy of that privilege. But they were unwilling to receive the only truth which could fit them for everlasting life, and so they could justly be said to be unwilling to receive everlasting life.

So Paul could say to the Galatians who were turning aside from the gospel of Christ, that they desired to be under the law. Not that they deliberately chose death, but they were seeking justification by something which could not bring them justification. They were losing their faith in Christ, and being removed from God (Galatians 1:5); and such a course, if carried out, would inevitably bring them under the condemnation of the law. I see nothing absurd in this position. If it is absurd, then you must attach absurdity to the words of Solomon in Proverbs 8:36.

Let me prove the point in another way. You will admit that a man’s own way, if followed, will always end in death. Says Solomon: “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.“ And this way which seems right to a man, is his own way. Now since a man’s own way is the way of death, it can truly be said that all who love their own way love death. The Galatians had turned to their own way, which is opposed to the ways of God. And so they were desirous to be under the condemnation of the law.

But I have already made this letter longer than I anticipated. I have done so only because I have a deep sense of the tremendous importance of this question, and I am morally certain that your theory is opposed to the truth. That those who have held it have not oftener been discomfited by the enemies of the truth, is due rather to the providential blindness of those enemies, than to the strength of the argument with which they have been met on this question.

 

CONCLUSION: PERFECT HARMONY BETWEEN GRACE AND LAW

I have written this brief review, as I did my articles in the Signs, with the desire to vindicate the law of God, and to show its perpetuity, its binding claims upon all mankind, and the beautiful harmony between it and the gospel. The law of God is the groundwork of all our faith. It may be said to be the backbone of the Third Angel’s Message. That being the case, we must expect, as we approach the end, that all the forces of the enemy will be concentrated upon it. We shall have to do more valiant service for it than we ever yet have done.

Every point in our argument will have to be subjected to the test of the most rigid criticism, and we shall have to fortify every point. If there is any inconsistency in any of our arguments, we may be sure that the enemies of the truth will not always remain blind to it.

I know you will say that it will be a humiliating thing to modify our position on so vital a point as this, right in the face of the enemy. But if a general has a faulty position, I submit that it is better to correct it, even in the face of the enemy, than to run the risk of defeat because of his faulty position. But I do not see anything humiliating in the matter. If our people should today, as a body (as they will sometime), change their view on this point, it would simply be an acknowledgment that they are better informed today than they were yesterday. It would simply be taking an advance step, which is never humiliating except to those whose pride of opinion will not allow them to admit that they can be wrong. It would simply be a step nearer the faith of the great Reformers from the days of Paul to the days of Luther and Wesley. It would be a step closer to the heart of the Third Angel’s Message.

I do not regard this view which I hold as a new idea at all. It is not a new theory of doctrine. Everything that I have taught is perfectly in harmony with the fundamental principles of truth which have been held not only by our people, but by all the eminent reformers. And so I do not take any credit to myself for advancing it. All I claim for the theory is, that it is consistent, because it sticks to the fundamental principles of the gospel.

Before I close, I cannot refrain from expressing my regret to see in your book (on page 78) the expression, “The much-vaunted doctrine of justification by faith.” Do you know of any other means of justification? Your words seem to intimate that you think that doctrine has been overestimated.

Of one thing I am certain, and that is, that those who have held to the theory of the law, which you are endeavoring to uphold, have not overestimated the doctrine of justification by faith; because that theory leads inevitably to the conclusion that men are justified by the law. But when I read Romans 3:28, and read also that Paul knew nothing among the Corinthians but Jesus Christ and Him crucified, and that “the just shall live by faith,” and that “this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith” (1 John 5:4), and that Paul wanted to be found when Christ comes, having nothing but “the righteousness which is of God by faith” (Philippians 3:9), I conclude that it is impossible to overestimate the doctrine of justification by faith. You may call it a “much-vaunted”doctrine if you please; I accept the word, and say with Paul: “God forbid that I should glory [or vaunt], save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.”

Hoping that you will read this letter in the spirit in which it is written, and that you will believe that I have written it with only the utmost good-feeling and brotherly love for you personally, and praying that God will guide both of us and all His people to the most perfect knowledge of the truth as it is in Jesus, I remain your brother in Christ,

E.J. Waggoner


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