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CHRIST’S BEING MADE UNDER THE LAW &c.

EXPOSITION OF GALATIANS 4:4 & 5.

BROTHER JEWETT: - I saw in the ADVOCATE & MONITOR for June 1844, the request of brother Lowe of Missouri for my views on Gal.4:4 & 5. “When the fulness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the Law, to redeem them that were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.” But various circumstances have occurred to prevent my complying with his request till now.

The main points, I presume, of Brother Lowe’s enquiry, are in reference to redeeming them that were under the law; and as to the Son of God being made of a woman and made under the law. But in pursuing these enquiries, others at once arise; namely, whether Paul is here treating of the law given from Sinai, or some other law. And if of the Sinai law, whether the Gentiles were ever under it. The term law is used in the Scriptures in other senses than that of denoting the commandments, which God gave from Sinai; but in such cases the term is generally accompanied with some other identifying expressions. The definite expression, the law, as found in this text, I believe uniformly refers to the Sinai law. But should any doubt as to this being the law the apostle is speaking of, a little attention to the context will, I think, if they are candid examiners, convince them of the fact. Beginning with the 3rd chapter, where Paul commences this particular argument, we find him in verses 2 & 5 contrasting the works of the law with the hearing of faith; here I presume none will dispute his meaning the law which was given by Moses. In verse 10, he asserts, that “as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse,” and quotes from Deut.27:26, with a little variation of expression, in confirmation of this assertion; thereby showing clearly, that he is here speaking of the law of Moses. He then in verse 13 says, “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us.” Thus showing, that, in order to redeem from the curse of the law, He was himself made subject to the curse, of course must have been made subject to, or under the law that cursed, and that law, as proved above, was the Sinai law, or law of Moses. Here then is proof positive, without going further, that the law Christ was made under, was the Sinai law. But Paul goes on further to declare, that the law he is speaking of, was given four hundred and thirty years after the promise made to Abraham. What law will this apply to but the Sinai law? Surely I should think then, that this point is established beyond doubt.

And yet an objection is raised, in opposition to this proof, to the idea that the Sinai law is intended; because it has to be admitted that, if that law is intended, it would prove that both Jews and Gentiles are under it; and the expression, them that are under the law, would involve, they say, the idea that all of both Jews and Gentiles are redeemed. Hence it is supposed that some law, which the elect alone are under, is intended. But the truth is, the Apostle is not here treating of the extent of the redemption, but of the occasion of the redemption, that they who were redeemed had been under the law, and that they were redeemed, that they might be delivered both from the curse and servitude of it. And the expression, “them that were under the law,” is not more general, than Paul uses in that faithful saying of his, “That Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners,” I Tim.1:15; nor than the words of our Lord, that, “The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” Luke 19:10. So that I think this objection cannot militate against the proof we have showed.

We now pass to the other enquiry; namely, Whether the Gentiles were ever under the Sinai law. As above noticed, the establishing of the fact that the Sinai law is here intended, establishes also the point that the Gentiles are under it; else they had no part in that redemption, which God sent forth his Son to accomplish. But Paul writing to the brethren both at Ephesus and at Colosse, Gentiles of course included, connects them with himself in saying, “In whom we have redemption through his blood,” &c. Eph.1:7, Col.1:14. And in the connection of our subject, chapter 3, verses 13 & 14, he speaks of Christ’s being made a curse for us, &c., that the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles; thus showing that the “curse of the law” stood in the way of the Gentiles experiencing the blessing of Abraham. And in chapter 4, verses 6 & 9, he says, “And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the spirit of his Son into your hearts,” &c., “Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son,” &c. What can the Apostle mean here but to show these Galatian brethren, that they were interested in the redemption just spoken of, as evidenced by their receiving the spirit of sonship or of adoption, and that they ought not, therefore, any longer to consider themselves servants under the law? But as the law was given to national Israel, the difficulty with some is, how the Gentiles could be under it. In the mere letter, as a national covenant, the law was given exclusively to national Israel, and in that covenant form, it had nothing to do with the Gentiles, but to bar them from the worship and privileges which belonged to Israel; it was a separating wall between the two. This wall of partition Christ, by his crucifixion, broke down, so that the Gentiles now stand on the same footing with the Jews, as to the privilege of having the revelation of God’s will published to them; and as to acceptance with him. But under the light of the Gospel, the law is manifested as a spiritual law, emanating from God who is a Spirit, and having a demand upon man as a rational being, having a soul as well as body alike derived from God. Hence it shows, that nothing short of loving God with all the heart, with all the soul and with all the strength, and loving his neighbor as himself, is righteousness before God; and it proclaims that a falling short of this, in any point, is sin, and subjects to “the curse of the law.” As our Lord informs us that all the law and the prophets hang upon this obligation thus to love God and our neighbor, it is evident this obligation existed before the giving of the law, and therefore was not limited by that wall of partition. Indeed the Decalogue is but a transcript of this obligation, illustrating its nature by distinct acts. Hence, “until the law, sin was in the world.” As the letter of the law was proclaimed indiscriminately to all Israel; to those that fell in the wilderness, as well as to those that entered the promised land, showing the same standard of national righteousness to the one as to the other, and pronouncing the same thing to be sin in the one case, as in the other; so the law in its spirituality, is under the Gospel proclaimed alike to Jews and Gentiles, to those that perish, and to those that afterwards believe, as the one standard of righteousness, and that by which is the knowledge of sin. Hence Paul says, “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world become guilty before God.” Rom.3:19. According to Paul then, them who are under the law include no less than all the world.

Paul, in his figure of the schoolmaster, and of the heir being a child &c., seems to me to refer to that collective body of Christ, in which there is neither Jew nor Greek, neither bond nor free, &c. The childhood state of this body, or church, had its existence in the type, in the natural seed of Abraham, having the Messiah in it yet undeveloped. In this state it was in servitude “under the law,” differing nothing from a servant; the law as a schoolmaster enforced its instructions by the rod; and tutors and governors, the priesthood, were enforcing and expounding the requisitions of the law, and directing the conscience. But since Christ, the object, the author and finisher of faith, has come, the church is no longer under a schoolmaster. He has taken the hand-writing of ordinances, the Sinai covenant, out of the way, and the church is brought into the liberty of sonship. But in the second place, as the body and members are one, and therefore the travel of the church and of the individual members correspond, so Paul shows by the same figures the experience of the elect in their quickened state; and how, when faith is come, or given, they have Redemption through Christ’s blood, and receive the Spirit of God’s Son. But the elect in their state of unregeneracy, like others, are aliens, living as having no hope and without God in the world. Eph.2:12. Whatever educational knowledge they may have, they are like Paul alive without the law. But when quickened by the Spirit, like Israel when brought out of Egypt, they are put to work under the law, and differ nothing from a servant, toiling to obey and to be accepted upon their obedience; but are only learning more of the broadness of the law, of the infinite purity of that God they have to do with, and of the depth of their own pollution and depravity; so that the Law is continually wasting them and their hopes, as Israel was wasted in the wilderness. And like them they frequently murmur saying, “Behold, we die, we perish; we all perish; whosoever comes anything near unto the tabernacle of the Lord shall die.” Or thus, “Wherefore have ye made us to come out of Egypt to bring us into this evil place? It is no place of seed, or of figs, or of vines, or of pomegranates; neither is there any water to drink.” Num.17:12,13 & 20:5. Thus, though the law does not bring them to Christ, as the translators make the passage read, Gal.3:24, by adding the words to bring us; yet it was unto or until Christ; that is, it held its dominion over them, until they were stripped of all hope, condemned and just ready to be in justice forever banished, and thus made to know themselves to be in that desperate case, as to be just fit objects for the display of God’s mercy, and of the power of Jesus to save; and when faith comes, they see that the salvation by Christ is just fitted and adapted to the case of such polluted, ruined, helpless sinners, as they are. By the application of this salvation they find themselves delivered from the law and brought into the relation of sons to God.

But probably, owing to the many speculations which have been set afloat by man’s wisdom, brother Lowe may want to know my views concerning Christ’s being made of a woman and made under the law.

First: The expression made of a woman, as well as that used by the Angel, {Luke 1:35,} “that holy thing which shall be born of thee,” forbids my believing, that the body of Jesus was a super-human or previous existence, which dwindled itself down to pass through Mary in the form of a child. I believe, the child Jesus was born of Mary, the fetus receiving its nourishment and growth from her, the same as any other child is born of its mother. Some have objected, that as Mary was of the same depraved stock with the rest of the human family, if the child Jesus was made of her or received its growth from her, it must have partaken of her depravity. But not so; the depravity of the human family proceeded from Adam, not from Eve, and is therefore communicated by the father, not the mother. Besides, the depravity or sin is not inherent in the mere flesh and bones and blood of the body, that thing which was born of Mary, these in depraved man are instruments of unrighteousness, as Paul speaks; but it has its existence in that principle of life, which animates and gives life to that thing which is born of the woman; and this principle of life which in ordinary cases is communicated from the man, was, in the case of Jesus, the immediate and uncontaminated production of the Holy Ghost, which came upon her. So then, though Jesus was made of a woman, he was holy, harmless, undefiled and separate from sinners; not conceived in sin.

Second: Christ’s being made under the law, at the same time that he was “made of a woman,” shows that he was made a rational being, and therefore we have proof in this of the error of another speculation; namely, that what was as a soul to the body of Jesus, was a preexistent being, which was the beginning {or first} of the creation of God, and which had existed from before the foundation of the world, as the Head and Representative of the Church or spiritual body of Christ. Now we know that the law has nothing to do with irrationality; that it was prescribed to man as a rational being, as having a soul or mind, as well as an animated body; Christ therefore in being made under the law, must have been made such a being. His assumption of a mere body could not have constituted him any more under the Law, than he was before. The declaration that he was made flesh, which is quoted to support the other notion, evidently means, that he was made man in distinction from his antecedent existence, as “the Word,” and having that life in him, which was the life of men, and which he had as the Head of that life; just as the same term is used, “That which is born of the flesh, is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit, is spirit.” It may be said, that Jesus in his human body existing in union with his preexistent life, rendered him as much a rational being, as though he had had a human soul. Admitting this to be so, {of the correctness of it, however, I have no means of judging;} there is another difficulty, Christ as the Head of his people and fountain of that life, which manifests them as sons of God, was not like Adam, set up under the law, but under that everlasting covenant ordered in all things and sure. This life never in the members, and of course never in the Head, for Christ is it, was in a state of servitude under the law, but always in a state of sonship; it is the Spirit of God’s Son. Gal.4:6. He therefore, to come into the law place of his people, must be made of a woman and made under the law. In conformity with the idea I am contending for, it is written that, in taking upon him the form of a servant, he was made in the likeness of men, Phil.2:7; he must of course been made with a soul as well as a body like men. In Rom.8:3, we read of God’s sending forth his Son in the likeness of sinful flesh. There are other sinful beings, as I believe; namely, the devils; but as the design of the Son of God was not to represent them, “he took not on him the nature of angels;” and sinful flesh is not to be found, except as it exists in personal union with a human soul. Christ therefore, to be in the likeness of sinful flesh, must have flesh in union with a human soul. But more clearly, if possible, to the point, we read in Heb.2:17, that “in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren.” Now, his brethren exist as perfect men having souls and bodies, besides having the spirit of Christ, the spirit of God’s Son, or Christ who is their life in them. The Son of God therefore, to be in all things made like unto his brethren, must not only be the Head of spiritual life, and as their Elder Brother have it in common with them as brethren, but he must also be a complete man having a human soul and body, and therefore human passions, though not swayed by depravity. Being such, he could know what his brethren suffer in mind, as well as body, from being tempted; and having been in like manner tempted, he knows how to succor them and have compassion on them. And having a human soul, he could know and feel in soul as well as body, the condemnation and curse of the law; and thus feeling it, he said, “My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death.” Matt.26:38.

Christ being thus made fully under the law, and being at the same time one with his people in that life of which he is the Head, and they are the members of his body, of his flesh and of his bones, he could fully represent them under the law; and being their Elder Brother he could claim the right to redeem according to law; and being at the same time God and having all the fulness of the Godhead dwelling bodily in him, He by his obedience could and did completely cancel the demands of the Law upon his people; and becoming the end of the law for righteousness unto them, he removed every barrier, which the law could present, out of the way of their being brought experimentally to a oneness with him, and to participate with him in the privilege of being sons of God and in the glory, which He had with the Father before the world began.

I have thus given my views on those points in this text, which brother Lowe most probably had in view. If there are other points which I have not so particularly noticed, on which he wishes my views more fully, and will signify the same through the ADVOCATE & MONITOR, I will try, if spared, to satisfy him.

S. TROTT.
Sept.6, 1844.