Christ's Life Being the Perfect Rule of Life; Signification of Everlasting; the Place of Law; Oaths; Rule of Life; Old Testament Saints

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1. The word "everlasting"* signifies that this order was not provisional and temporary, but established by God for all time, until there should no longer be a priest: עולם (Olam) is thus used. If there were no longer a priest upon earth, the order would no longer have its application.
2. In the Old Testament the veil of the tabernacle was not yet rent, and God was not yet fully revealed. For this reason the standard was not so severe, so high; thus divorce was permitted if the wife did not please her husband: other things, likewise, were allowed which are not allowed in Christianity. But there is another difference. The opposition of the flesh to the Spirit was not known before the death of Christ as it has been known since. A man could say, ' This is forbidden,' and yet know that his heart desired it, but he could not say, 'This comes from the flesh, and not from the Spirit; it is wrong, I cannot do it.' Thus in this very case the Lord says, when He forbids swearing, "But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh from the evil one," or "of evil." So it is swearing from the evil, the levity of the heart, not swearing before a magistrate who is ordained by the authority of God, which is forbidden. If I am in Christ, the life of Christ is the only and perfect rule of my life.
3. The whole truth of the gospel depends upon the distinction which is pointed out in these words. [John 1:1717For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. (John 1:17).] The law requires from man what man ought to be, in order to be righteous before God. The Lord Jesus Christ is and has done all that was needed to save a sinner The law was not given, it did not come by Him He owned all its authority; He fulfilled it morally in His life; as to its typical meaning, for example the sacrifices, the priestly office, and in many other points, it has been fulfilled in what He has done, or in what He is now doing, or even in what He will do in time to come. But the grace that saves and quickens, and the truth that gives light and makes all things seen as they are, came by Jesus Christ. The law can neither save nor quicken; it cannot take away sins; it can impute them and it brings a curse, but Christ has been made a curse for us, and grace flows freely according to the righteousness of God: we share in this righteousness; we are made the righteousness of God in Him. "Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth." We are "set free from the law, being dead to that in which we were held." The authority of the law is not weakened, but we have died in the death of Christ, and the law has dominion over a man as long as he is alive. But we are dead and the law cannot apply to a dead man: we have been crucified with Christ. The death of Christ confirms the law as nothing else does since it announces its curse, but we believers are set free from the law because we have died with Christ; we are dead to sin as to the law and alive to God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Grace and truth have in no way come by the law, but by Jesus Christ the Son of God. The law was not annulled by His coming, but fulfilled we are not under law but under grace. We do not sin because we have died with Christ; we have died to sin, to the law, by the body of Christ, This is true liberty, being made free from sin that we may live unto God in the new life which we have received from Christ, strengthened by the power of the Holy Ghost, Christ being the only object of our life.
4. The absolutely perfect and living rule is the life of the Lord Jesus Christ. In Him all written rules are united in one solitary living example; but the written rule which ought to govern our whole life is the New Testament. The Old Testament gives the most precious light, and illuminates the path of Christians by the light of divine faith working in hearts; still, before the rending of the veil, it could not be said, "The true light now shineth," save in the life of Jesus Christ: He was the light of the world. For this reason when the Holy Ghost gives as examples of walking in the path of faith, the faithful of the Old Testament, He adds, "Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of faith." The faithful have, each for himself, gone over a little bit of the path of faith: Jesus is the beginner and completer of this path. But whatever be the light that shines in the Old Testament, it is a precious light, and it can, through the faith which is in Christ Jesus, make us wise unto salvation. The precepts of the New Testament furnish a clear, perfect rule adapted to the Christian such as the Old could not do. Christ having suffered with a patience that was perfect, we have learned to walk in the same spirit; "If doing good and suffering, ye shall bear it, this is acceptable with God, for to this have ye been called." "Let the same mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus." He humbled Himself. We are called to walk worthy of the Lord so as to please Him in everything. We must know the Lord in order to walk thus—"worthy of God who hath called you to his kingdom and glory." This absolutely clear and perfect light is found in the New Testament alone; but the Old, if we have learned to distinguish between the dispensation under which the saints lived in those times, furnishes very fine examples of faith, of obedience, of subjection to the will of God, of constancy in His paths. Happy is he who keeps by His side to learn how one ought to walk, and who understands the riches that are in Christ, the beauty of His ways, to enjoy communion with Him, pleasing Him every day more and more.
I send my manuscripts without corrections, and without reading it over; I have not time. You can make use of it as you like, and as will be most useful and profitable.
Yours affectionately in Christ.
London, December, 1870.