Vol.XVII No.IV Pg.6
June 1980

Sermon On The Law, 1816

Robert F. Turner

Excerpt from A. Campbell's historic address, delivered at the Cross Creek (Va.) Regular Baptist Assoc. Meeting.


"The term 'law' denotes in common usage, "a rule of action." It was used by the Jews, until the time of our Savior, to distinguish the whole revelation made to the Patriarchs and Prophets, from the traditions and commandments of the rabbis or doctors of the law. Thus the Jews called the Psalms of David, law, Jn. 12:34 (Psa. 110:4). And again, our Savior calls the Psalms of David, law, Jer. 10:34 (Psm. 82:6). Thus when we hear David extolling God's law, we are to understand him as referring to all divine revelation extant in his time. But when the Old Testament scriptures were finished, and divided according to their contents for the use of synagogues, the Jews styled them the law, the prophets and the psalms. Lu. 24:44. Christ says, "All things written in the law of Moses, in the prophets and in the psalms concerning me, must be fulfilled."

The addition of the definite article in this instance as well as all others, alters the signification or at least determines it. During the life of Moses, the words "the law," without some explicative addition, were never used. Joshua, Moses' successor, denominates the writings of Moses, "the book of the law"; but never uses the phrase by itself. Nor indeed have we any authentic account of this phrase being used, without some restrictive definition, until the reign of Abijah, 2 Chron. 14:4, at which time it was used to denote the whole legal dispensation by Moses. In this way it is used about thirty times in the Old Testament, and as often with such epithets as show that the whole law of Moses is intended.

When the doctrines of the reign of Heaven began to be... contrasted with the Mosaic economy, the phrase "the law," became very common, and when used without... restrictive definition invariably denoted the whole legal or Mosaic dispensation. In this acceptation it occurs about 150 times in the New Testament. To make myself more intelligible, I would observe that when the terms "the law" have such distinguishing properties or restrictive', definitions as "the law of faith," "the law of Christ," "the law of the spirit of life," etc., it is most obvious the whole Mosaic law or dispensation is not intended. But when we find the phrase "the law," without any such limitations or epithets, as "the law was given by Moses," "then law and the prophets were until John," "if ye be led by the Spirit, ye are not under the law," "ye are not under the law but under grace," etc., we must perceive the whole law of Moses, or legal dispensation, is intended.

I say the whole law, or dispensation of Moses; — for in modern times the law of Moses is divided and classified under three heads, denominated the moral, ceremonial, and judicial law. This division of the law being unknown in the apostolic age, and of course never used by the Apostles, can serve no valuable purpose in obtaining a correct knowledge of the doctrine delivered by the Apostles respecting the law."