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is designed to impress a sense of this upon the minds of the people; and it is summarily expressed by the psalmist, Psal. cxlvii. 19, 20. ; and by the prophet, We are thine, thou never barest rule over them; thy name was not called upon by them,' Isa. Ixiii. 19.
2. This covenant of God was in itself, holy, just, and equal. For although there was in it an imposition of sundry things burdensome, they were such as God in his infinite wisdom saw necessary for that people, aud such as they could not have been without. Hence, on all occasions, God refers it even unto themselves, to judge whether his ways towards them were not equal, and their own unequal; and it was not only just, but attended. with promises of unspeakable advantages to be enjoyed by them, above all other people whatever.
3. God dealing with them in the way of a covenant, whereunto the mutual consent of all parties covenanting is required, it. was proposed unto them for their acceptance, and they did accordingly willingly receive it, Exod. xxiv. Deut. v. so as that they had not whereof to complain.
4. In that state of discipline wherein God was pleased to hold them, yet they enjoyed the way of life and salvation in the promise ; for as we have shewed at large, the promise was not disannulled by the introduction of this covenant. Wherefore, al. though God reserved a better and more complete state for the church under the New Testament, having ordained better things for us, that they without us should not be made perfect ;' yet was that other state in itself good and holy, and sufficient to bring all believers unto the enjoyment of God.
Obs. XI. The state of the gospel, or of the church under the New Testament, being accompanied with the highest spiritual privileges and advantages that it is capable of in this world, two. things do thence follow.
1. The great obligation that is on all believers unto holiness and fruitfulness in obedience unto the glory of God. We have herein the utmost condescension of divine grace, and the greatest effects of it that God will communicate on this side glory. That which all these things tend unto, that which God requireth and expecteth in consequence of them, is the thankful and fruitful obedience of them that are made partakers of them. And they who are not sensible of this obligation, are strangers. unto the things themselves, and are not able to discern spiritual things, because they are to be spiritually discerned.
2. The heinousness of their sin by whom this covenant is neglected or despised, is hence abundantly manifest. This the aposthe particularly asserts and insists upon, chap ii, 2, 3. x. 28, 29.
VER.7.-Ει γαρ η πρωτη εκεινη την αμεμπτος, και αν δευτερας εζήτειτο τοπος. Ver. 7.--For if that first (covenant) had been blameless, then
should no place have been sought for the second. In this verse, and so also in those that follow unto the end of this chapter, the apostle designeth a confirmation of what he had before asserted and undertaken to prove. And this was, that there is a necessity of a new and better covenant, accompanied with better promises, and more excellent ordinances of worship, than the former. Hereon it follows, that the first was to be disannulled and abolished, which was the main thesis he had to prove. And there are two parts of his argument to this purpose. For, First, he proveth, that on the supposition of another better covenant to be introduced, it did unavoidably follow, that the first was to be abolished, as that which was not perfect, complete or sufficient unto its end, which he doth in this verse. Secondo ly, he proves in the verses following, that such a new, better covenant was to be introduced.
What he had before confirmed in sundry particular instances, he summarily concludes in one general argument in this verse, and that built on a principle generally acknowledged. And it is this, All the privileges, all the benefits and advantages of the Aaronical priesthood and sacrifices, do all belong unto the covenant whereunto they were annexed, a chief part of whose outward administrations consisted in them. This the Hebrews nei. ther could, nor did question. The whole of what they pleaded for, the only charter and tenure of all their privileges, was the covenant that God made with their fathers at Sinai. Wherefore that priesthood, those sacrifices, with all the worship belonging unto the tabernacle or temple, was necessarily commensurate unto that covenant. While that covenant continued, they were to continue; and if that covenant ceased, they were to cease also. These things were agreed between the apostle and them.
Hereon he subsumes, But there is mention of another cové. nant to be made with the whole church, and to be introduced long after the making of that at Sinai. Neither could this be denied by them. However, to put it out of controversy, the apostle proves it by an express testimony of the prophet Jeremiah. In that testimony, it is peculiarly declared, that this new covenant that was promised to be introduced in the latter days, should be better and more excellent than the former, as is mania fest from the promises whereon it is established; yet in this verse, the apostle proceeds no further, but unto the general consideration of God's promising to make another covenant with the church, and what would follow thereon.
From this supposition the apostle proves, that the first covenant is imperfect, blameable and removeable; and the force of Vol. VI.
his inference depends on a common notion or presumption, that is clear and evident in its own light. And it is this, Where once a covenant is made and established, if it will serve unto and effect all that he who makes it doth design, and exhibit all the good which he intends to communicate, there is no reason why another covenant should be made. The making of a new, for no other ends or purposes but what the old was every way sufficient for, argues lightness
, and mutability in him that made it. Unto this purpose doth he argue, Gal. iii. 21. If there had been a law given, that could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law.' Could the first covenant have perfected and consecrated the church, could it have communicated all the grace and mercy, that God intended to indulge unto the children of men, the wise and holy Author of it would have had no thought about the introduction and establishment of another. It would have been no way agreeable unto his infinite wisdom and faithfulness so to do. Wherefore the promise hereof doch irrefragably prove, that both the first covenant, and all the ser. vices of it, were imperfect, and therefore to be removed and ta.
Indeed, this promise of a new covenant, diverse from that made at Sinai, or not like unto it, as the prophet speaks, is sufficient of itself to overthrow the vain pretences of the Jews wherein they are hardened to this day. The absolute perpetuity of the law and its worship, that is of the covenant at Sinai, is the principal fundamental article of their present faith, or rather unbelief. But this is framed by them in direct opposition unto the promises of God. For let it be demanded of them, whether they believe that God will make another covenant with the church, not according to the covenant which he made with their fathers at Si. nai; if they shall say they do not believe it, then do they plainly renounce the prophets and the promises of God given by them. If they do grant it, I desire to know of them, with what sacrifices this new covenant shall be established; by what priest, with what worship, it shall be administered. If they say that they shall be done by the sacrifices, priests and worship of the law, they deny what they granted before, namely that it is a new and another covenant. For the sacrifices and priests of the law, cannot confirm or administer any other covenant, but that which they belong and are confined unto. If it be granted that this new covenant must have a new mediator, a new priest, a new sacrifice, as it is undeniable it must, or it cannot be a new covenant, then must the old cease and be removed that this may come into its place. Nothing but obstinacy and blindness can resist the force of this argument of the apostle.
The general design of the apostle in this verse being cleared, we may consider the words more particularly. And there are two things in them.
1. A positive assertion included in a supposition ; . if the first covenant had been blameless,' had not been defective; that is, it was so.
2. The proof of this assertion; if it had not been so, place would not have been sought for a second,' which that there was he proves in the following verses.
In the first part of the words there is, 1. A causal conjunction rendering a reason, for.' 2. The subject spoken of, that former covenant.' 3. What is affirmed of it, as the affirmation is included in a negative supposition, it was not blameless.'
1. The conjunction, yag, for,' sheweth that the apostle intends the confirmation of what he had before discoursed. But he seems not to refer only unto what he had immediately before affirmed, concerning the better promises of the new testament, but unto the whole argument that he hath in hand. For the general reason which here he insists upon, proves all that he had before delivered concerning the imperfection of the Levitical priesthood, and the whole worship of the first covenant depend. ing thereon.
2. The subject spoken of is i gwań ixtivn, that first ;' that is, mogurige doce Inxn, that former covenant.' The covenant made with the fathers at Sinai, with all the ordinances of worship there unto belonging, whose nature and use we have before declared.
3. Hereof it is said u apiperlos mo, Vul. Lat. Si culpă vacasset. And so we, if it had been faultless.' I am sure the expression is a little too harsh in our translation, and such as the original word will not bear, at least doth not require: For it seems to intimate, thạt absolutely there was something faulty or blameworthy in the covenant of God. But this must not be admitted. For besides that the Author of it, which was God himself, doth free it from any such charge or imputation, it is in the Scripture every where declared to be good, just and holy. There is indeed an intimation of a defect in it. But this was not with res. pect to its own particular end, but with respect to another general end, whereunto it was not designed. That which is defective, with respect unto its own particular end whereunto it is ordained, or which it is designed to accomplish; is really faulty. But that which is or may be so, with respect unto some other general end, which it was never designed to accomplish, is not so in itself. This the apostle discourseth concerning, Gal. iii. 19 --22. We must therefore state the signification of the word, from the subject matter that he treats about in this place : and this is the perfection and consummation, or the sanctification and salvation of the church. With respect hereunto alone it is that he asserts the insufficiency and imperfection of the first covenant. And the inquiry between him and the Hebrews, was not, whether the first covenant was not in itself good, just, holy and blameless, every way perfect with respect unto its own especial ends; but whether it were perfect and effectual unto the general ends mentioned. This it was not, saith the apostle, and proves it undeniably from the promise of the introduction of another general covenant, for the effecting of them. Whereas therefore, to be not autrios, is either to have some fault or vice accompanying of any thing and adhering unto it, whereby it is unsuited to or insufficient for its own proper end; or that whereunto somewhat is wanting with respect unto another general end which is much to be desired, but such as it was never designed to accomplish : as the art of arithmetic, if it be perfectly taught, is sufficient to instruct a man in the whole science of numeration ; if it be not, it is faulty as unto its particular end. But it is no way sufficient unto the general end of making a man wise in the whole com. pass of wisdom, a thing far to be preferred before its particular end, be it never so perfect in its own kind. And it is in the latter sense only that the apostle affirms that the first covenant was not apsperlos, or blameless. If it had been such, as unto which nothing more was required or needful perfectly to complete and sanctify the church, which was the general end God aimed at, it had been absolutely perfect. But this it was not, in that it never was designed for the means of it. To the same purpose he argues, chap. vii. 11. 19. And with respect unto this end it is said that the law was weak, Rom. vii. 3. Gal. iii. 21, Acts xiii, 38, 39.
In brief, that which the apostle designeth to prove is, that the first covenant was of that constitution, that it could not accom-: plish the perfect administration of the grace of God unto the church, nor was ever designed to that end, as the Jews then falsely, and their posterity also still foolishly, imagine it to have done.
The ensuing words in this verse, include the general proof of his assertion concerning the insufficiency of the first covenant, unto the ends of God towards the church, *x av deutiques 2-11To TOTOS. His argument is plainly this, • The promise of a new covenant doth unavoidably prove the insufficiency of the former, at least unto the ends for which the new one is promised.' For otherwise unto what end serves the promise and covenant promised ? But there is some difficulty in the manner of the expression, 8κ αν δευτερας εζητειτο τοπος, • the place of the second had not been sought;' so the words lie in the original. But the place of the second is no more but the second taking place; the bringing in, the introduction and establishment of it. And this is said to be sought, but improperly and after the manner of men. When men have entered into a covenant which proves insufficient for some end which they intend, they take counsel and seek after other ways and means, or an agreement and covenant on such other terms, as may be effectual unto their purpose.