Jurisdiction of the Law (Part 2 of 4)

Ellet J. Waggoner

The Signs of the Times : February 11, 1886 

Thus far we have shown the existence of the law of God from the earliest history of mankind. We wish now to carry the argument a step further, as we have already intimated that we should do. We have found the law to be “the righteousness of God,” the rule of his government. Since God has always been supreme ruler, and his rule has always been just and righteous, he must have judged only by his own righteous character, which is embodied in the Decalogue. Now God has created many worlds besides this one (Hebrews 1:2), and since he formed ours that it might be inhabited (Isaiah 45:18), the conclusion is legitimate, in the absence of any evidence to the contrary, that he made the others for the same purpose. No thinking person can suppose that this little earth, one of the smallest among the innumerable planets of the universe, is the only one that is inhabited. Now of all these vast worlds, God is the King. “The Lord hath prepared his throne in the Heavens; and his kingdom rules over all.” Psalm 103:19. And since he can rule by naught except justice and righteousness, and all righteousness, even the righteousness of God himself, is comprised within the Ten Commandments, it follows that they, and they alone, form the rule of action in all God’s universe. Of the correctness of this conclusion we have direct evidence in Psalm 103:20, where we read that the angels “do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word.” If the commandments are the rule in Heaven, where God himself resides, certainly they are the rule “in all places of his dominion.”
This view of the law, and we are confident it is a just view, lifts the law question far, far above the plane on which its opposers would fain confine it. Instead of being imperfect and not calculated to bring man into proper relation to his Maker, it is the righteousness of God; instead of being confined to a small portion of this earth, the bounds of its jurisdiction are as extensive as the universe; instead of being given to one nation of earth, and to that alone, it is that to which all loyal creatures, even the angels of Heaven, bow in humble allegiance; and instead of being limited to a few centuries of existence, it “stands fast forever and ever,” even as long as God exists and his kingdom rules over all.
We are aware that at first sight many will think that this is going too far, and will possibly raise objections, and say that when we consider the nature of certain commandments, it is not reasonable to suppose that they could be in Heaven for the restraint of heavenly beings. We will therefore add one or two more points. But first we would remark that when a case is supported by positive evidence, we are not at liberty to reject it because there are points about it that we do not understand. Nothing can be proved so clearly that no one can raise an objection, or even frame an argument, against it; and many things that are susceptible of the clearest proof, cannot be fully comprehended even by those who present the proof. Take, for instance, the question of the existence of God. Both nature and revelation plainly teach that there is a God, who has existed from eternity; yet it is impossible to state the case so clearly that no one can cavil or raise objections; and there is no one, no matter how clearly he can demonstrate that there is a God, who can comprehend him, or understand how he could exist from eternity. The argument from ignorance is no argument at all. Truth is truth, however great our ignorance of it may be. The merchant sitting in his office can put a question to his agent a thousand miles distant, and receive a reply the next minute. Tell this well-known fact to a savage, and he will not believe you; he cannot comprehend how such a thing can be done, and will present objections and arguments, which, to his mind, show the utter impossibility of such a thing. Yet in spite of his ignorance, the thing is true. So there are many things in connection with God and his government which finite wisdom cannot explain, but which we must accept.
Now to further show the reasonableness and the absolute necessity of the Ten Commandments existing as a rule for all creatures of the universe:
1.               “The law of the Lord is perfect.” Psalm 19:7. Since it is perfect, nothing can be added to it or taken from it without making it imperfect. If, then, any creatures should be governed by more or less than this law, an imperfect law would govern them. But that, of course, would result in imperfect characters, and would further show the lawgiver to be imperfect; therefore such an idea cannot be entertained.
2.               “The law of the Lord is perfect,” because it is a transcript of his will, —his righteousness. Therefore all intelligent creatures must be governed by it. This has already been stated, but it will bear repetition. Too much stress cannot be laid upon it. Wherever God rules, his will must of necessity be law. That the Ten Commandment law, the law out of which the Jews were instructed, is the will of God, Paul shows in Romans 2:17, 18: “Behold, you are called a Jew, and rest on the law, and make your boast in God, And know His will, and approve the things that are excellent, being instructed out of the law.” That the Ten Commandments are here referred to may be seen from verses 21-23. Paul, therefore, speaking to a Jew, said, ‘You know the will of God, because you are instructed out of the law’. No further evidence is needed to show that the Ten Commandments are the will of God. Now, since all intelligent creatures must be governed by the will of God, it is evident that they are governed by the Ten Commandments, unless it could be shown that God changes, having one will at one time and toward one people, and another will at another time and for another people. But this cannot be; for “with him is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” James 1:17. There is, then, one law for all.
3.               There are none who can have a greater interest than the righteous whether of the redeemed or of those who never sinned, in having the Ten Commandments maintained as the standard of right. And this for the very reason that it is the standard of right. It is the badge of their loyalty. If there were a place where the Ten Commandments were not held as the law, the righteous ones would not want to go there; for there would be nothing to show that they were righteous. But enough has been said to prove beyond a reasonable doubt the universality of God’s holy law. In all places of God’s dominion, rational beings are by this law either justified or condemned.

Go to Part 3