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reproof, and correction, forms and prepares us for every good work.
XV. The assertions of Paul respecting the curse evidently relate, not to the instruction itself, but to the power of binding the conscience. For the law not only teaches, but authoritatively requires, obedience to its commands. If this obedience be not yielded, and even if there be any partial deficiency of duty, it hurls the thunderbolt of its curse. For this reason the apostle says, that " as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, Cursed is every one that cdntinueth not in all things." (w) Now he affirms them to be "of the works of the law," who place not their righteousness in the remission of sins by which we are released from the rigour of the law. He teaches us therefore that we must be released from the bondage of the law, unless we would perish in misery under it. But what bondage? the bondage of that austere and rigid exaction, which remits nothing from its strictest requirements, and permits no transgression to pass with impunity: from this curse, I say, Christ, in order to redeem us, was "made a curse for us. For it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree." (w) In the following chapter indeed he tells us, that Christ was "made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law:" but in the same sense; for he immediately adds, " that we might receive the adoption of sons." (x) What is this? that we might not be oppressed with a perpetual servitude, which would keep our consciences in continual distress with the dread of death. At the same time this truth remains for ever unshaken, that the law has sustained no diminution of its authority, but ought always to receive from us the same veneration and obedience.
XVI. The case of ceremonies, which have been abrogated, not as to their effect, but only as to their use, is very different. Their having been abolished by the advent of Christ, is so far from derogating from their sanctity, that it rather recommends and renders it more illustrious. For as they must have
(») Gal. iii. 10. (w) Gal. iii. IS. (*) Gal. iv. 4, 5..
exhibited to the people in ancient times a vain spectacle, unless they had discovered the virtue of the death and resurrection of Christ: so, if they had not ceased, we should in the present age have been unable to discern for what purpose they were instituted. To prove therefore that the observance of them is not only needless, but even injurious, Paul teaches us that they were shadows, the body of which we have in Christ, (y) We see then, that the truth shines with greater splendour in their abolition, than if they still continued to give a distant and obscure representation of Christ, who hath openly appeared. For this reason, at the death of Christ, "the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom:" (z) Because, according to the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews, the living and express image of the heavenly blessings, which before had been only sketched in obscure lineaments, was now clearly revealed. The same truth is conveyed in the declaration of Christ, that "the law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached." (a) Not that the holy fathers had been destitute of that preaching, which contains the hope of salvation, and of eternal life; but because they saw only at a distance and under shadows, what we now contemplate in open day. But the reason, why it was necessary for the Church of God to ascend from those rudiments to sublimer heights, is explained by John the Baptist; "the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ." (A) For although expiation of sin was truly promised in the ancient sacrifices, and the ark of the covenant was a certain pledge of the paternal favour of God: all these would have been mere shadows, if they had not been founded in the grace of Christ, where alone we may find true and eternal stability. Let us firmly maintain then that though the legal rights have ceased to be observed, yet their very discontinuance gives us a better knowledge of their great utility before the advent of Christ, who, abolishing the observance of them, confirmed their virtue and efficacy in his death.
XVII. The reasoning of Paul is attended with more difficulty: " And you, being dead in your sins, and the uncircum.
(g) Col. ii. 17. (i) Matt, xxvii. 51.
(a) Luke xvi. 15. (&) John >■ 17.
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cision of your flesh, hath he quickened "together with him. having forgiven you all trespasses; blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross," &c. (c) For it seems to extend the abolition of the law somewhat further, as though we had now no concern with its "ordinances." For they are in an error, who understand it simply of the moral law, the abolition of which they nevertheless explain to relate to its inexorable severity, rather than to its precepts. Others, more acutely and carefully considering the words of Paul, perceive that they belong particularly to the ceremonial law: and prove that the word "ordinances" is more than once used by Paul in that signification. For he thus expresses himself to the Ephesians: "He is our peace, who hath made both one; having abolished the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man." (d) That he there speaks of the ceremonies, is very evident: for he calls the law "the middle wall of partition," by which the Jews were separated from the Gentiles. Wherefore, I allow that the former commentators are justly censured by these: but even these do not appear to me clearly to explain the meaning of the apostle. For to compare these two passages as in all respects similar, is what I by no means approve. When he designs to assure the Ephesians of their admission into fellowship with the Israelites, he informs them, that the impediment which formerly prevented it was now removed. That consisted in ceremonies. For the rites of ablutions and sacrifices, by which the Jews were consecrated to the Lord, caused a separation between them and the Gentiles. But in the Epistle to the Colossians he treats of a sublimer mystery. The controversy there relates to the Mosaic observances, to which the false apostles were strenuously attempting to subject the Christians. But as in the Epistle to the Gala. tians he goes to the depth of that controversy, and reduces it to its source; so also in this place. For if in the rites you contemplate nothing but the necessity of performing them, to what purpose were they called a "hand.writing that was against
(e) Col. ii. 13,14. (rf) Ephes. ii. 14, 15,
us?" and almost the whole of our redemption made to consist in its being " blotted out?" Wherefore it is evident, that here is something to be considered beside the external ceremonies. And. I am persuaded that I have discovered the genuine meaning, at least if that be conceded to me as a truth, which Augustine somewhere very truly asserts, and which he has even borrowed from the positive expressions of an apostle, (e) that in the Jewish ceremonies there was rather a confession of sins than an expiation of them. For what did they do in offering sacrifices, but confess themselves worthy of death, since they substituted victims to be slain in their stead? What were their purifications, but confessions that they were themselves impure? Thus the hand.writing both of their sin and of their impurity was frequently renewed by them: but that confession afforded no deliverance. For which reason the apostle says that the death of Christ effected " the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament." (/") The apostle therefore justly denominates the ceremonies " a hand.writing against those who observe them:" because by them they publicly attested their condemnation and impurity. Nor does any objection arise from their having been also partakers of the same grace with us. For this they obtained in Christ, not in the ceremonies, which the apostle there distinguishes from Christ, for being practised at that time after the introduction of the Gospel, they obscured the glory of Christ. We find then that the ceremonies, considered by themselves, are elegantly and appositely called a "hand.writing that was against" the al. vation of men; because they were solemn instruments testifying their guilt. When the false apostles wished to bring the Church back to the observance of them, the apostle deeply investigated their signification, and very justly admonished the Colossians into what circumstances they would relapse, if they should suffer themselves to be thus inslaved by them. For they would at the same time be deprived of the benefit of Christ: since by the eternal expiation that he has effected, he has abolished those daily observances, which could only attest their sins, but could never cancel them.
(c) Heb. x. 3—14. (/) Heb. ix. 15.
An Exposition of the Moral Law.
HERE I think it will not be foreign to our subject to introduce the ten precepts of the law, with a brief exposition of them. For this will more clearly evince. what I have suggested, that the service which God hath once prescribed always remains in full force; and will also furnish us with a confirmation of the second remark, that the Jews not only learned from it the nature of true piety, but when they saw their inability to observe it, were led by the fear of its sentence, though not without reluctance, to the Mediator. Now in giving a summary of those things which are requisite to the true knowledge of God, we have shewn that we can form no conceptions of his greatness, but his majesty immediately discovers itself to us, to constrain us to worship him. In the knowledge of ourselves we have laid down this as a principal article, that being divested of all opinion of our own strength, and confidence in our own righteousness, and on the other hand discouraged and depressed by a consciousness of our poverty, we should learn true humility and self.dejection. The Lord accomplishes both these things in the law, where, in the first place, claiming to himself the legitimate authority to command, he calls us to revere his Divinity, and prescribes the parts of which this reverence consists: and in the next place, promulgating the rule of his righteousness (the rectitude of which, our nature, being depraved and perverted, perpetually opposes; and from the perfection of which, our ability, through its indolence and imbecility towards that which is good, is at a great distance) he convicts us both of impotence and of unrighteousness. Moreover, the internal law, which has before been said to be inscribed and as it were engraven on the hearts of all men, suggests to us in some measure the same things which are to be learned from the two tables. For our conscience does not permit us to sleep in perpetual insensibility, but is an internal witness and monitor of the duties we owe to God, shews us the difference between good and evil, and so