Page images

world to come, as it was called of old, was no way put in subjection unto them.

IV. They differ in their mediators. The mediator of the first covenant was Moses. • It was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator,' Gal. iii. 19. And this was no other but Moses, who was a servant in the house of God,' Heb. ii. 6. And he was a mediator, as designed of God, so chosen of the people, in that dread and consternation which befel them, upon the terrible promulgation of the law. For they saw that they could no way bear the immediate presence of God, nor treat with him in their own persons. Wherefore they desired that there might be an internuntius, a mediator between God and them, and that Moses might be the person, Deut. v. 25-27. But the mediator of the new covenant, is the Son of God himself. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all,' 1 Tim. ii. 5. He who is the Son, and the Lord over his own house, graciously undertook in his own person to be the mediator of this covenant; and herein it is unspeakably preferred before the old covenant.

V. They differ in their subject matter, both as unto precepts and promises, the advantage being still on the part of the new covenant. For.

First, The old covenant, in the preceptive part of it, renewed the command of the covenant of works, and that on their original terms. Sin it forbade, that is, all and every sin, in matter and manner, on the pain of death, and gave the promise of life unto perfect sinless obedience only. Whence the decalogue itself, which is a transcript of the law of works, is called the covenant, Exod. xxxiv. 28. And besides this, as we observed before, it had other precepts innumerable, accommodated unto the present condition of the people, and imposed on them with rigour. But in the new covenant, the very first thing that is proposed, is the accomplishment and establishment of the covenant of works, both as unto its commands and sanction, in the obedience and suffering of the mediator. Hereon the commands of it, as unto the obedience of the covenanters, are not grievous, the yoke of Christ being easy, and his burden light.

Secondly, The old testament, absolutely considered, had,

1. No promise of gracę, to communicate spiritual strength, or to assist us in obedience ; nor,

2. Any promise of eternal life, no otherwise but as it was contained in the promise of the covenant of works, · The man that doth these things, shall live in them; and,

3. It had promises of temporal things in the land of Canaan inseparable from it. In the new covenant all things are otherwise, as will be declared in the exposition of the ensuing verses.

IV. They differ, and that principally, in the manner of their

[ocr errors]

dedication and sanction. This is that which gives any thing the formal nature of a covenant or testament. There may be a promise, there may be an agreement in general, which hath not the formal nature of a covenant or testament; and such was the covenant of grace before the death of Christ. But it is the solemnity and manner of the confirmation, dedication and sanction of any promise or agreement, that gives it the formal nature of a covenant or testament. And this is by a sacrifice, wherein there is both blood-shedding and death ensuing thereon. Now this, in the confirmation of the old covenant, was only the sacrifice of beasts, whose blood was sprinkled on all the people, Exod. xxiv. 5—9. But the new testament was solemnly confirmed by the sacrifice and blood of Christ him. self, Zech. is. 11. Heb. x. 29. xiii. 20. And the Lord Christ dying as the mediator and surety of the covenant, he purchased all good things for the church, and as a testator bequeathed them unto it. Hence he says of the sacramental cup, that it is the new testament in his blood, or the pledge of his be, queathing unto the church all the promises and mercies of the covenant, which is the new testament, or the disposition of his goods unto his children. But because the apostle expressly handleth this difference between these two covenants, chap. ix. 18, 19. we must thither refer the full consideration of it.

VII. They differ in the priests that were to officiate before God in the behalf of the people. In the old covenant, Aaron and his posterity alone were to discharge that office; in the new, the Son of God himself is the only priest of the church. This difference, with the advantange of the gospel-state thereon, we have handled at large in the exposition of the chapter foregoing

VIII. They differ in the sacrifices, whereon the peace and reconciliation with God which is tendered in tbem, doth depend. And this also must be spoken unto in the ensuing chapter, if God permit.

IX. They differ in the way and manner of their solemn writing or enrolment. All covenants were of old, solemnly written in tables of brass or stone, where they might be faithfully preserved for the use of the parties concerned. So the old covenant, as to the principal fundamental part of it, was engraven in tables of stone which were kept in the ark, Exod. xxxi. 18. Deut. ix. 10. 2 Cor. iii. 7. And God did so order it in his providence, that the first draught of them should be broken, to intimate that the covenant contained in them, was not everlasting nor unalterable. But the new covenant is written in the fleshly tables of the hearts of them that do believe, 2 Cor. iii. 3. Jer. xxxi. 33.

X. They differ in their ends. The principal end of the first covenant was to discover sin, to condemn it, and to set bounds unto it. So, saith the apostle, ' It was added because of transgressions. And this it did several ways.

1. By conviction; for the knowledge of sin is by the law; it convinced sinners, and caused every mouth to be stopped before God.

2. By condemning the sinner, in an application of the sanction of the law unto his conscience.

3. By the judgments and punishments wherewith on all occasions it was accompanied." In all it manifested and represented the justice and severity of God. The end of the new cove. nant is, to declare the love, grace and mercy of God, and therewith to give repentance, remission of sin, and life eternal.

XI. They differed in their effects. For the first covenant, þeing the ministration of death and condemnation, it brought the ininds and spirits of them that were under it, into servitude and bondage, whereas spiritual liberty is the immediate effect of the new testament. And there is no one thing wherein the Spirit of God doth more frequently give us an account of the difference between these two covenants, than this of the liberty of the one, and the bondage of the other ; see Rom. viii. 15. 2 Cor. iii. 17. Gal. iv. 1-4. 24, 25. 30, 31. Heb. ii. 14, 15. This therefore we must a little explain. Wherefore the bondage which was the effect of the old covenant, arose from several causes concurring unto the effecting of it.

1. The renovation of the terms and sanction of the covenant of works, contributed much thereunto. For the people saw not how the commands of that covenant could be observed, nor how its curse could be avoided. They saw it not, I say, by any thing in the covenant of Sinai, which therefore gendered unto bondage. All the prospect they had of deliverance was from the promise.

2. It arose from the manner of the delivery of the law, and God's entering thereon into covenant with them. This was ordered on purpose to fill them with dread and fear. And it could not but do so, whenever they called it to remembrance.

3. From the severity of the penalties annexed unto the transgression of the law. And God had taken upon himself, that where punishment was not exacted according to the law, he himself would cut them off. This kept them always anxious and solicitous, not knowing when they were safe or secure.

4. From the nature of the whole ministry of the law, which was the ministration of death and condemnation, 2 Cor iïi. 6 7. 9. which declared the desert of every sin to be death, and denounced death unto every sinner, administering by itself no relief unto the minds and consciences of men. So was it the letter that killed them that were under its power.

-5. From the darkness of their own minds in the means, ways and causes of deliverance from all these things. It is true, they had a promise before of life and salvation, which was not abolished by this covenant, even the promise made unto Abraham. But this belonged not unto this covenant. And the way of its accomplishment, by the incarnation and mediation of the Son of God, was much hidden from them, yea from the prophets themselves who yet foretold them. This left them under much bondage. For the principal cause and means of the liberty of believers under the gospel, ariseth from the clear light they have into the mystery of the love and grace of God in Christ. This faith and knowledge of his incarnation, humiliation, sufferings and sacrifice, whereby he made atonement for sin, and brought in everlasting righteousness, is that which gives them liberty and boldness in their obedience, 2 Cor. iii. 17, 18. Whilst they of old were in the dark as unto these things, they must needs be kept under much bondage.

6. It was increased by the yoke of a multitude of laws, rites and ceremonies imposed on them, which made the whole of their worship a burden unto them, and unsupportable, Acts xv. 10.

In and by all these ways and means, there was a spirit of bondage and fear administered unto them. And this God did, thus he dealt with them, to the end that they might not rest in that state, but continually look out after deliverance.

On the other hand, the new covenant gives liberty and bold. ness, the liberty and boldness of children, unto all believers. It is the Son in it that makes us free, or gives us universally all that liberty which is any way needful for us, or useful unto us. For where the Spirit of God is, there is liberty, namely, to serve God not in the oldness of the letter, but in the newness of the spirit. And it is declared, that this was the great end of bringing in the new covenant, in the accomplishment of the promise made unto Abraham, namely, that we, being delivered from the hands of all our enemies, might serve God without fear all the days of our lives,' Luke i. 72–75. And we may briefly consider wherein this deliverance and liberty by the new covenant doth consist, which it doth in the things ensuing.

1. In our freedom from the commanding power of the law, as to sinless perfect obedience, in order to righteousness and justification before God. Its commands we are still subject to, but not in order to life and salvation. For to those ends it is fulfilled in and by the mediator of the new covenant, who is * the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth,' Rom. x. 4.

2. In our freedom from the condemning power of the law, and the sanction of it in the curse. This being undergone and answered by him, who was made a curse for us, we are freel from it, Rom. vii. 6. Gal. ij. 13, 14. And therein also are we delivered from the fear of death, Heb. ii. 15. as it was penal, and an entrance into judgment or condemnation, Jolin v. 24.

3. In our freedom from conscience of sin, Heb. x. 2. That is, conscience disquieting, perplexing and condemning our persons, the hearts of all that believe being sprinkled from an evil conscience by the blood of Christ.

4. In our freedom from the whole system of Mosaic worship, in all the rites and ceremonies and ordinances of it; and what a burden this was, the apostles do declare, Acts xv. and our apostle at large in his epistle to the Galatians.

5. From all the laws of men in things appertaining to the worship of God, I Cor. vii. 23. And by all these, and the like instances of spiritual liberty, doth the gospel free believers from that spirit of bondage to fear, which was adıninistered under the old covenant.

It remains only that we point at the heads of those ways whereby this liberty is communicated to us under the new covenant. And it is done,

First, Principally, by the grant and communication of the Spirit of the Son as a spirit of adoption, giving the freedom, boldness and liberty of children, John i. 12. Rom. viii. 15–17. Gal. iv, 6, 7. From hence the apostle lays it down as a certain rule, that where the Spirit of God is, there is liberty, 2 Cor. iii. 17. Let men pretend what they will, let them boast of the freedom of their outward condition in this world, and of the inward liberty or freedom of their wills, there is indeed no true liberty where the Spirit of God is not. The ways whereby he giveth freedom, power, a sound mind, spiritual boldness, courage and contempt of the cross, holy confidence before God, a readiness for obedience and enlargedness of heart in duties, with all other things wherein true liberty doth consist, or which any way belongs to it, I must not here divert to declare. The world judges that there is no bondage, but where the Spirit of God is ; for that gives that conscientious fear of sin, that awe of God in all our thoughts, actions and ways, that careful and circumspect walking, that temperance in things lawful, that abstinence from all appearance of evil, wherein they judge the greatest bondage on the earth to consist. But those who have received him, do know that the whole world doth lie in evil, and that all those to whoni spiritual liberty is a bondage, are the servants and slaves of Satan.

2. It is obtained by the evidence of our justification before God, and the causes of it. With respect to this, men were greatly in the dark under the first covenant, although all stable peace with God doth depend thereon. For it is in the gospel, that the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith,' Rom. i. 17. Indeed the righteousness of God without

« EelmineJätka »