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NECESSITY OF A PERFECT DISPENSATION
CHRISTIANITY PERFECT, BY BEING IN
3. THE RITUAL LEFT TO
THE DISCRETION OF EACH PARTICULAR CHURCH. 4. REQUIRES INTERNAL PURITY, IN OPPOSITION TO THE VARIOUS WASHINGS OF THE LAW. 5. FORBIDS DIPIVORCES, EXCEPT IN CASE OF ADULTERY. 6, FORBIDS REVENGE. 7. ST. PAUL'S PARALLEL BETWEEN MOSES AND CHRIST. 8. CHRISTIANITY PERFECT IN THREE SEVERAL RESPECTS. CONCLUSION.
THUS have we at length arrived, through Neceffity of the medium of type, prophecy, and prac- difpenfatice, at the true connection between the the ChrifMofaical the imper
SECT. Mofaical and Chriftian difpenfations. We IV. have seen that the former, instead of being deftroyed, has been fulfilled, having refection of ceived the most glorious attestation of its faical. truth, by the completion of its ceremonies, and the accomplishment of its predictions. We have beheld in the Gofpel the exactnefs of this completion; and have observed that Mofes and the Law were only a fhadow of good things to come, preparatory to the manifestation of a greater Prophet, and a purer religion. Let us now finally confider the neceffity of a perfect dispensation like the Chriftian, in confequence of the imperfection of the Jewish.
I. The Law, in what fenfe imperfect.
1.1. The imperfection of the Mofaical dispensation does not confift in its being inadequate to the end and design, with As being which it was promulged, but in its being
only a part
of a whole, only one part of the grand revelation of God's purpose to fave mankind through the blood of the Meffiah. In this fenfe, even Christianity itself, abstracted from Judaism, as it was by the Gnoftics and other heretics, may be deemed imperfect. But, if the end alone of Judaism be confidered, in that refpect it doubtless, as proceeding from God, is perfect; for it certainly anfwered
fwered the defign of its promulgation com- CHAP. pletely and perfectly. Thus, to use the Apoftle's figure, a child may be perfect and complete in all his component parts, as a child, though not as a human being; because he has not attained to all the perfection, of which his nature is capable.
only for a
2. This difpenfation is likewife imperfect in another refpect: it is defigned only calculated for a small nation, not for the whole world. fmall na In fact, a part of its end was, to separate the Ifraelites from the reft of mankind, which it effectually accomplished. Hence many of its ordinances are of fuch a nature, that they are not calculated for general obfervation. The Jews, for inftance, were commanded to appear perfonally in Jerufalem at their great feftivals; and if all men had been converted to Judaism, this law would have been equally binding upon them. But it would be impoffible for the greater part of mankind to repair to Jerufalem three or four times in the year; for if this was a neceffary part of religion, the lives of half the world would entirely be spent in a wearifome, neverending pilgrimage.
fuperfeded by their realities.
SECT. 3. Lastly, most of the Jewish rites were IV. primarily memorials of their deliverance as a particular people; in this sense, thereAs having fore, it would be a manifest abfurdity for pical rites those persons to obferve them, who had plished, and never experienced fuch deliverances, and were not in the least interested in keeping the recollection of them. And if they be taken in their figurative and Secondary fenfe, it would be ftill more abfurd, to be bound to an obfervance of the fhadows, when in poffeffion of the fubftance. Among other rites, circumcifion was inftituted for the exprefs purpose of feparating the defcendants of Abraham from every other nation but when the wall of partition was broken down, a strange impropriety would have been committed, if every nation had adopted what was the peculiar and distinguishing badge of one alone.
II. An univerfal revelation is neceffary
perfect, by for an univerfal converfion of mankind. being in
Hence, when the time appointed in the
point the fecret councils of God arrived, and when
of the Law. the Gentiles were now to be called to the
fame privileges with the Jews, a difpenfation was youchfafed fully adequate to this
this important end. Whatever were the CHAP. imperfections of the Law, their very oppofites were the perfections of the Gospel.
1. If the one was burdened with numberlefs rites and ceremonies, fignificant in- dened by deed, yet gendering to bondage; the other ufes none, but fuch as are necessary for decency and good order, and bleffes us with the enjoyment of a spiritual liberty, which we must not suffer to degenerate into licentiousness. Herein appears the ingratitude of those who abuse that liberty, having itching ears; and who weakly fuffer themselves to be carried about by every wind of doctrine. Though we are fubject to no other Spiritual head but Chrift, and not to any one earthly bishop, as the Romanifts falfely pretend; yet are we equally bound to preferve, as far as in us lies, the unity of Chrift's church, and not to inflict fresh wounds on his precious body, by vain babblings, and diffenfions, and questions, which favour of worldly wisdom, not of heavenly.
2. If the Mofaical difpenfation was confined to one people, the Chriftian, like the for all manglorious luminary of day, extends its be