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and without any image. But there is some ground for believing, that, although the preternatural apparition of the Cherubim was doubtless withdrawn after the deluge, consecrated images, formed after their similitude, were used by the postdiluvian patriarchs as well as by the Israelites, and occupied the same relative position in their domestic oratories as the Levitical Cherubim did in the tabernacle or in the temple. These Cherubic figures were denominated Seraphim or (in the Chaldee dialect which was spoken by the ancestors of Abraham) Teraphim: and, although they were too soon abused to the purposes of superstition, whence Jacob under the divine impulse discards them from his family; yet the very abuse itself serves to prove the existence of the use." We find likewise images of a similar description among the Gentiles; which, as Paganism is nothing more than depraved Patriarchism, they must have bor rowed from the Cherubic figures which were in use anterior to the dispersion. But, if such figures were then in use, they must have been employed in the ritual of the first dispensation, as well as in that of the second.3
It is foreign to my present purpose to follow this, curious subject any further: enough has been said, to shew, that we may not unreasonably judge the
Kichim et R. Solom. in Hagg. i. 8. ii. R. Bechai in Leg, fol. 59. col. 4. Lipman. Nizachon. p. 141. apud Kidder's Demons. part i. c. 1. p. 28, 29. Tacit. Hist. lib. v. c. 9.1
Gen. xxxi. 19, 34. xxxv. 2.
See my Orig, of Pagan Idol. book ii. c. 6.
Cherubim to -have been used in the Patriarchal Church prior to the founding of the Levitical.
2. In a similar manner, the Christian dispensation has borrowed largely from its predecessor though upon a somewhat different principle.
(1.) Our Lord declared, that he came, not to destroy the Law, but to fulfil it.
Now, as all the shadowy or ceremonial part of the Law respected himself; when he, who was the substance, came, it followed of necessity that the mere typical obumbrations of himself should pass away: just as the mould is broken up as no longer valuable, when the metallic image, whose future lineaments it expressed, has been completed. But, with respect to the moral part of the Law, so far from abrogating that righteous and immutable declaration of God's will; he magnified and made it honourable by his own perfect obedience to it, and solemnly adopted it into his own consummating dispensation as a rule of conduct for ever obligatory upon his disciples.
Those persons therefore err most grievously, who dream of a repealing of the moral Law in consequence of the promulgation of the Gospel, and who vainly fancy that an obligation to obedience is inconsistent with what they are pleased to denominate evangelical privileges; as if truly it could ever be the privilege of a Christian, to be allowed freely to trample, with the bestial hoofs of antinomianism, upon a code which rests on the eternal and necessary distinction between good and evil. Hence the Church of England most
soundly and rationally teaches, that no Christian man whatsoever is free from the obedience of the commandments which are called moral.1
In fact, the perpetual obligation of this part of the Law is the very thing, which practically demonstrates our need of an atonement. According to the strictly logical argument of the great apostle of the Gentiles, no man renders a perfect obedience to the moral Law: therefore by the moral Law no man can be justified; for it is clearly impossible for a man to be justified by that, which he daily and hourly violates. If then a man cannot be justified by the Law, he must be justified by something else otherwise, he can have no justification whatsoever. But, if he have no justification whatsoever, he must perish everlastingly for, as it is written, cursed is every one that continueth not in all the things of the Law to do them. Hence the perpetual obligatoriness of the moral Law compels him to look out for some extraneous and better justification: and hence at length, so far as meritoriousness is concerned, he is brought to rest all his hopes of acceptance upon him who alone ever rendered perfect obedience to it.
Thus it appears, that those persons as much mistake the true nature and design of the moral Law, though after a directly opposite manner; who suppose, either that we are to be justified in consequence of our obedience to it, or that we are to be justified by it to a certain extent while the
Redeemer's merits serve only to eke out our occasional deficiencies. By the deeds of the Law shall no flesh be justified. The conferring therefore of justification is not the office of the Law.
Nor did the truth of this doctrine commence only with the Christian dispensation; as if the Law might justify the Israelites before the advent of the Messiah, though it cannot justify his disciples subsequent to his advent. Never since the fall was it possible for man to be justified by the deeds of the moral Law; whether he lived under the Patriarchal, or the Levitical, or the Christian, dispensation. And, in each case, the reason was still the very same. If a man would be justified by the Law, he must perfectly keep the Law. But no man, save the predicted Seed of the woman, ever did perfectly keep it. Therefore by the Law can no man, save that one, be justified.
Agreeably to this conclusion, all the three dispensations look the very same way, however they might be externally modified in respect to their several periods. A mighty deliverer, who should bruise the head of the infernal serpent, who should act as a mediator between God and man, and who on principles radically different from those of perfect individual obedience should accomplish a new and wonderful mode of justification, is alike the object of the Patriarchal and the Levitical and the Christian dispensation. Whosoever is justified and accepted before God, no matter under what dis
Rom. iii. 20.
pensation he may have lived, is not justified by his obedience to the moral Law, but by the perfect obedience of the man Christ imputed to him and accounted as his own at the bar of heaven.
The hand or instrument, which thus appropriates Christ's perfect obedience, is the same under each dispensation; even as, under each, the principle, on which fallen man is justified before God, is still the same. This hand or instrument is faith, agreeably to what St. Paul very largely teaches us in a copious enumeration of particulars. From Abel under the Patriarchal dispensation, to the latest prophets under the Levitical, every one, who is justified, is justified by the same faith in a Redeemer as that which is uniformly said to be the very basis of Christianity. Our faith differs from their faith, only as retrospective faith differs from prospective. In each case, the object is one and the same; and always has been one and the same, from the day when the Seed of the woman was first promised to our apostate parents.
But, while the office of justification is not to be ascribed to the moral Law, and while we look for acceptance with God through the sole merits of Christ; we are not on that account rashly to undervalue the Law itself, or madly to fancy that it is abrogated by the Gospel. Sinful as man may be, the Law is honourable and just and holy: and, since it declares the mind of God as to the good or evil of particular actions and dispositions; God