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THE LAW

Brother Beebe: - In the communication signed P., Signs no.2, vol.12, Jan.15th, 1844, there were the following sentences, - "The Decalogue was given exclusively to National Israel, and its duration, in letter, was throughout their generations; and was predictive in all its requirements, and was coupled with the prophets until John, whose mission was to point unto Him in whom both the law and the prophets should concentrate. The burden of prophecy from Adam to Zechariah foretold the coming of Christ in the flesh. The demands of the law being perfect, holy and spiritual, predict the righteousness of Christ being imputed to those who are born of His Spirit: hence Jesus quotes from the law, and He doubtless knew the use of it, saying, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy might, with all thy mind, and with all thy strength. &c."

I waited, thinking there were other brethren who would not let the sentiment advanced in the above quotation and its connection pass unnoticed; feeling quite averse to again appear in the Signs as an opposer of the sentiments of Old School brethren, being aware of the offense I have formerly given to many by my opposition to kindred sentiments with the above. I have wished that I could feel in consistent to let every thing pass as good which appears in the Signs from Old School brethren; but it is not so. With me, error appears as wrong, and perhaps more grievous, when found in the Signs than when advanced by those not of us. But, brethren, though I have been very troublesome to many of you as readers of the Signs, by being, as you think, too strenuous, and even fastidious, bear with me a little longer; I may soon cease to be numbered among you.

What I wish in this case, brother Beebe, if you will permit me, is simply to show my dissent from the sentiment advanced by P., and some of my reasons for such dissent. I have no intention of engaging in a prolonged discussion of the subject. I dissent from the sentiment advanced in the above quotation: 1st. Because, if the Decalogue, or law of Ten Commands, was given exclusively to national Israel, and in the letter of it was restricted to their generations, and in its perfect, holy and spiritual demands, it is to be viewed as a prediction of the righteousness of Christ, then I know of no revealed law which God has ever given showing to the Gentile world what God demands of them as creatures and what sin is. If so, I cannot conceive how Paul could say, "The times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent," unless the gospel is to be viewed as a law to the Gentile world. The world is bad enough now, with all the restraint which the Decalogue evidently has upon them. But it would be worse if they could be persuaded that God has never forbidden their killing, committing adultery, or stealing, &c. Besides, although I have been, and still am, willing to bear the reproach of being called an antinomian, when so called for maintaining that Christ accomplished a complete redemption of His people from the demands of the law, believing with the Apostle that this doctrine instead of making void the law, establishes it (Rom.3:31), and that the charge is false. But I am not willing to countenance a sentiment which would give the enemies of truth just ground to charge us with making void the demands of God's revealed law. It is true, it is not our business to consult consequences in receiving and advocating truth. But what is truth? Christ says to His Father, "Thy word is truth" John 17:17. But certainly the Scriptures tell us nothing of the abrogation of the Decalogue. When Christ came "to the law and to the testimony:" speculations may have been useful in advancing human science, but in reference to the revealed truth of God, they can have no other effect than to obscure that truth, and bewilder the inquirers after it.

2nd. I further dissent from P.'s view of the law, because if we Gentiles were never under the revealed law, then all our convictions of sin and sense of condemnation by the law must have been as completely imaginary and delusive as ever a Campbellite represented them to be. And not only me, but Paul must also have been deceived in reference to his own experience as a child of grace, for he says, "Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin but by the law; for I had not known lust except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet" Rom.7:7. This Paul spoke, as is evident from the connection, of his Christian experience in common with the brethren to whom he wrote. And he shows clearly what he meant by the law, for he quotes the very letter of the Decalogue, that is, from the ten commandments, Thou shalt not covet. But if the Decalogue, in the letter of it, was restricted to fleshly Israel in their generations, what had it to do with Paul in reference to his gospel experience?

3rd. I dissent from P.'s views because, if I can understand the Scriptures on the point, the redemption wrought by Christ was a redemption from the demands of the law. Thus Paul says, "Ye also are become dead to the law, by the body of Christ" Rom.7:4. And again – "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us" Gal.3:13. And further he says, "God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law," &c. Gal.4:4,5. If the Gentiles were never under the law, they, of course, were never under its curse; upon that ground I cannot see what part they could have in redemption accomplished by Christ's death.

4th. I dissent from P. because I am in favor of taking the New Testament, after allowing for parables, prophecies, and figurative expression, as it reads. Certainly, according to the plain reading of the New Testament, those to whom its books were addressed, namely: believers in Christ, were once under the law. Thus they are represented as having stood in a relation to the law similar to that of a wife to her husband, and as having become dead to it by the body of Christ (Rom.7:1-6), and Paul says, that, "Whatsoever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God" Rom.3:19. This certainly looks as though all the world were under the sentence of the written law.

P., I apprehend, has not made the proper distinction between the law, as given as a covenant and in covenant form to national Israel, and the precepts of that law in their spiritual extent as being the revealed and unalterable standard of righteousness. Our Lord, in His instructions, instead of representing the law in its essential nature as passing away at the setting up of His kingdom, illustrates its stability and exceeding broadness as in Matt.5:17-32, and 22:36-40. P. also has evidently mistaken the distinctive nature of the law in confounding it with prediction. The law, being the standard of righteousness, showed what was required of Christ to the redemption and justification of His people from its demands; but instead of merely predicting of foretelling that Christ would bring in such a righteousness, it demanded it of Him, as standing in the law place of His people. I have taken the words of P. according to my capability to understand their natural import. I may have misapprehended his meaning, or he may have a turn for his expressions which I have not thought of; for I know some an give turns to their declarations, which I never should have imagined. Or he may cover himself under the position that the legal dispensation continued in force until the destruction of Jerusalem; but that position I cannot allow. But P. may be a person not wanting to avail himself of such a position. If so, I shall be glad to see him correcting, with candor, any misapprehension of mine concerning his views. Yours to serve,

Centreville, Fairfax County, Virginia,
March 14, 1844.
S. Trott.
From: SIGNS of the TIMES: Vol.12 (1844)

Select Works of Elder Samuel Trott
pgs. 291 - 294