|Faith Strengthened||Chapter 19||Part 1|
Many Christians oppose us with the opinion that the Mosaic Law had not been established for a permanent, but only for a limited period, and was totally abrogated by Jesus, who bequeathed to his disciples and followers a new law which dispensed them from conforming to the ancient statutes and ordinances laid down in the Mosaic code. For (they allege) according to the old law, they (the Israelites) had been given over to the power of death, while the new dispensation was a law of grace and easy to practice. The commandments given, they say, were so rigorous that no man could observe them properly. Hence it came that the fundamental laws, such as circumcision and the observances of the Sabbath, were but temporary, and continued only to the time of the coming of Jesus the Nazarene, who immediately substituted baptism instead of circumcision, and the consecration of the first day instead of the seventh.
Refutation. – This statement of the Christians is fallacious. The Gospel itself refutes their opinion, for in Matthew 5:17-20, Jesus says to his disciples, "Think not that I am come to destroy the Law or the Prophets; I am not come to destroy but to fulfill; for verily I say unto you, till Heaven and earth pass one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law till all is fulfilled;" "Whosoever, therefore, shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of Heaven; but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of Heaven."
The Christians themselves must admit that Jesus and his Apostles were circumcised; for we find that Paul circumcised his disciple, Timotheus, as is recorded in the Acts 16:3, which fact proves, according to their own statement, that the law was not abolished even after the existence of Jesus. The seventh day was also kept sacred by the founders of the Christian religion and its disciples. The Sabbath was observed (the translator refers to the book of Feasts and Fasts published 1825) for nearly 500 years after the vulgar era, when one of the Popes instituted the sanctification of the first day of the week instead of the proper Sabbath-day. See the record thereon in Zemach David.
The seventh day is not merely instituted as a ceremonial law, prescribing to us cessation of all labor, but is to be held universally sacred by the express word of the Almighty, "Remember the Sabbath-day to keep it holy," Exodus 20:8. See also ibid 16:29, "Behold the Lord giveth you the Sabbath; therefore He giveth you, on the sixth day, food for two days." The supply of manna during the six days of the week, and the allotment of double the quantity on the sixth day afford a miraculous confirmation of the sanctity of the Sabbath.
Therefore the Divine Ordinance of the Sabbath cannot be abrogated; more especially as this command is included in the Decalogue, the authority of which is acknowledged by all followers of Christianity. It appears, however, that the Christians have been anxious to abolish the law of Moses on their own accord and responsibility, for they have no authority whatever for doing so from Jesus and the Apostles. If Jesus had really absolved them from the commandments contained in our Bible, wherefore did he urge the observance of a part of them; as, for instance, the honor due to parents, neighborly love and charity? Wherefore did he warn them against homicide, adultery, theft, and false testimony? See Matthew 19. On what foundation rests the Apostle’s prohibition to abstain from idolatry, incest, and eating of blood and strangled animals? (See Acts 15:20.) Nor can we comprehend the assertion that the law of Moses must discontinue because the Israelites had been guilty of death according to it, but not according to the law of Jesus, which was called the law of Grace. Did not Paul order the death of one marrying his father’s wife? (See 1 Corinthians 5:1). Even at the present day, Christians inflict death on the murderer, the adulterer, and the thief (translator’s note: This was perfectly true at the date when the author wrote.); while, according to the Mosaic dispensation, pecuniary thefts were not punished with death. See Exodus 21:16, where it is said "He who stealeth man and selleth him, he shall be put to death," etc. Equally untrue is it that the law of Jesus is more easy to practice than that of Moses. In Matthew 19:21, we find, "If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor." The same is repeated in Luke 18:22. This shows that it is required by the laws of Jesus, that man shall dispose of his property and devote it to charitable purposes; the law of Moses, however, decrees that only the tenth part of the harvest shall go for charitable purposes, and the remainder be enjoyed by the owner. This proves that the legislative system of Moses is by no means oppressive; but on the contrary, serves to benefit both the body and the soul. Again, if men have been dispensed from obedience to the laws of Moses, why do they acknowledge some of the laws on consanguinity, and prohibit intercourse between the following six degrees of affinity, namely, with the mother, the father’s wife, the sister, the brother’s wife, the daughter, and the son’s wife? With regard to other relations they are not guided by the Divine enactments transmitted to us through Moses; but occasionally they permit the unlawful, and forbid the legitimate degrees of intermarriage.
The Christians seem here to abandon the solid foundation on which we rest our hopes, and act from self-formed opinions. The Gospel presents no express code on the points in question, and if these laws are no longer valid which determine the relationship of consanguinity, why did not Jesus introduce new regulations in lieu of the laws of Moses? In modern days the Christians are partly guided by the Mosaic code, and partly by human enactments at various periods. They make changes and alterations, accommodating them to the customs of the day, and render established principles subservient to temporary wants and arbitrary innovations. Convinced, as we Israelites are, that the divine revelation proceeds from Infinite Wisdom, and is, therefore, in itself complete and perfect in its aim, we cannot possibly admit of any change, deviation, addition, or diminution. Holy Writ warns us on this point. Deuteronomy 4:2, "Every word which I command you ye shall observe and do. Thou shalt not add unto it, and not diminish therefrom." Further (Deuteronomy 4:8), "Where is a nation so great which has such just and righteous statutes as all this law which I place before you this day?" Ibid, "If thou wilt obey the voice of the Lord thy God to observe His commandments and His statutes which are written in this book of this law," etc. In the same book (Deuteronomy 33:4) we read, "The law that Moses commanded unto us is an inheritance of the congregation of Jacob." To this we add the words of the Psalmist (Psalm 19:8-10 [19:7-9]), "The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul; the testimony of the Lord is faithful, making wise the foolish; the statutes of the Lord are just, rejoicing the heart; the commandments of the Lord are pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the Lord is clean, standing forever; the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether." In the same book (Psalm 119:44) he says, "And I will keep thy commandments for ever and ever." We refer also to the conclusion of the prophecy by Malachi, who says, "Remember ye the law of my servant Moses which I commanded him in Horeb, concerning all Israel (giving them), statutes and judgments." These verses give satisfactory evidence, that the divine law in its sublime perfection and simplicity is not to be enlarged or curtailed, and much less to be abrogated and superseded by any other code. The immutability of the law is pronounced in Deuteronomy 28:1, "And thou shalt listen to the voice of the Lord, and do all His commandments which I command thee this day." The same is repeated in a subsequent passage, it being said, "If thou wilt but listen to the voice of the Lord thy God to observe His commandments which are written in the book of this law."
This manifestly proves that the gracious promises and assurances will only be realized provided we rigidly follow the precepts prescribed in the books of Moses. The expression, "this day," points out the impossibility of a subsequent legislation, and the unchangeableness of the revealed Will of the Almighty. In a like manner, we learn from the passage, "The law which Moses commanded us," is an inheritance of the congregation of Jacob; that, contrary to the Christian belief, no period whatever has been assigned to limit the duration of the Mosaic code. The law of Moses is to remain an everlasting inheritance to the congregation of Jacob forever. "For it shall not be forgotten out of the mouth of his seed." The term, "congregation of Jacob," (instead of house or seed of Jacob), shows that the law is not merely an inheritance to the children of Jacob but to all who may congregate with them, "from the sons of the stranger, who join themselves to the Lord to serve Him, and to love the name of the Lord, and to be His servants. Every one that keepeth the Sabbath from polluting it, and taketh hold of my covenant." "They shall," as Isaiah says (Isaiah 14:1), "be joined with them, and be included in the house of Jacob." The expression, "All His commandments are sure, they stand fast for ever and ever," is no less an evidence of the eternity of the laws contained in the Pentateuch, as לָעַד ("for ever"), and לְעוֹלָם ("eternally), imply an uninterrupted and endless course of time. We meet with an unmistakable use of the two words in the Psalm 148:6, "And He has established them for ever and ever, He has given an ordinance and it shall not be infringed." The passage, "And I will keep Thy commandments continually for ever and ever," alludes to a period unlimited by time. In accordance with this, we find in Exodus 15:18, the words יהוה יִמְלֹךְ לְעֹלָם וָעֶד "The Lord shall rule for ever and ever." So likewise in the exhortation of the last of the prophets (Malachi 3:22 [4:4]), "Remember ye the law of Moses, which I commanded unto him on Horeb, concerning all Israel (giving him statutes and judgments)," we discover that there will never be any other law besides the law given unto Moses on Mount Sinai. We likewise meet with the Gentile authorities, who state that the law of God given to Israel is eternal and perfect – that no succeeding law has ever been given – that those are mistaken who assert that Moses gave the first and Jesus the second law – and that Jesus gave no new law, but merely confirmed the commandments given through Moses. Thus in all these doctrinal points they are found to agree with us.
Note: chapter and verse numbers in brackets  are the numbers used in the English bible.