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Wherefore this signifies no alteration, no defect in the wisdom and counsel of God, as unto what is now to be done, but only the outward change which he would now effect in the introduction of the new covenant. For as such changes among men are the issue of the alteration of their minds, and the effect of new counsels, for the seeking out of new means for their end; so is this outward change, in the taking away of the old covenant and introduction of the new, represented in God; being only the second part of his counsel or purpose, ' which he had purposed in himself before the foundation of the world.' And we may hence observe,
Obs. I. That whatever God had done before for the church, yet he ceased not in his wisdom and grace, until he had made it partaker of the best and most blessed condition whereof in this world it is capable.—He found out place for this better covenant.
Obs. II. Let those unto whom the terms of the new covenant are proposed in the gospel, take heed to themselves, that they sincerely embrace and improve them, for there is neither promise nor hopes of any farther or fuller administration of grace. VER. 8.-Μεμφομενος γκρ, αυλοις λέγει, Ιδε ήμεροι ερχονlαι, λέγει Κυριος,
και συντελεσω επι τον οικον Ισραηλ, και επι των οικον Ιεδα, διαθηκην καινην. VER. 8.–For finding fault with them, (complaining of them),
he saith, Behold the days come, saith the Lord, and I will make (when I will make) a new covenant with the house of Israel,
and the house of Judak. In this verse the apostle entereth upon the proof of his argus ment laid down in that foregoing. And this was, that the first covenant was not a EUTTOS, • unblameable,' or every way sufficient for God's general end, because there was room left for the introduction of another, which was done accordingly. Of this covenant so to be introduced, he declareth, in the testimony of the prophet afterwards, two things.
1. The qualification of it, or its especial adjunct; it was new, ver, 8.
2. A description of it, Ist, Negative, with respect unto the old, ver. 9. ; 2dly, Positive in its nature and effectual properties, ver. 10–12. From all which he inferreth the conclusion which he was contending for, enforced with a new consideration confirming it, ver. 13. which is the sum of the last part of this chapter.
There are two general parts of this verse.
1. The introduction of the testimony, to be improved from the occasion of it, as expressed by the apostle.
2. The testimony itself, which he insists on.
First, The first is in these words, for finding fault with them, he saith.' Wherein we have, 1. The note of connexion. 2. The ground whereon the testimony is built. 3. The true reading of the words is to be considered.
1. There is the causal conjunction was, 'for," which gives them connexion unto the foregoing verse. That which is designed, is the confirmation of the foregoing argument. This is the proof of the assertion, that place was sought for another covenant, which evinced the insufficiency of the former, for;' and the reason it intimates doth not consist in the word where. with it is joined, ' finding fault with them ;' but respects those following, he saith : for he saith, the days come, which di rectly prove what he had affirmed.
2. There is the ground intimated, of what is affirmed in the ensuing testimony. For the new covenant was not to be introduced absolutely without the consideration of any thing foregoing; but because the first was not a perperlos, or únblameable.' Therefore the apostle shews, that God brought it in, in a way of blame. He did it jesu popteros, ó finding fault with them.'
3. These words may be diversely distinguished and read. For placing the note of distinction thus, μιμφομενος γας, αυθοις λέγει, the sense is, ' for finding fault, complaining, blaming; he saith to them;' so that expression, pepe Popuesvos,finding fault, respects the covenant itself. 'Piscator was the first that I know of, who thus distinguished the words, who is followed by Schlictingius and others. But place the note of distinction at avions, as it is by most interpreters and expositors, and then the sense of the words is rightly expressed in our English translation ; for finding fault with them,' (that is the people) he saith,' and xuloss Imay be regulated either by μεμφομενος Or λεγει.
The reasons for fixing the distinction in the first way, are, 1. Because wespe popesyos, ' finding fault,' answers directly to 8x a piperlos,
was not without fault.?' And this contains the true reason why the new covenant was brought in. And, 2. It was not God's complaint of the people, that was any cause of the introduction of the new covenant, but of the old covenant itself, which was insufficient to sanctify and save the church.
But these seem not of force to change the usual interpretation of the words. For,
1. Although the first covenant was not every way perfect, with respect to God's general end towards his church, yet it may be it is not so safe to say, that God complained of it. When things or persons change the state and condition wherein they were made or appointed of God, he may complain of them, und that justly. So when men filled the world with wickedness, it is said, that'he repented him at his heart that he made man upon the earth.' But when they abide unaltered in the state wherein they were made by him, he hath no reason to complain of them; and so it was with the first covenant. So our apostle disputes about the law, that all the weakness and imperfection of 'it arose from sin, where there was no reason to complain of the law, which in itself was holy, just and good.
And we may
2. God doth in this testimony actually complain of the people, namely, that they brake his covenant, and expresseth his indignation thereon, he regarded them not.' But there is not in this testimony, nor in the whole context or prophecy whence it is taken, nor in any other place of Scripture, any word of com. plaint against the covenant itself, though its imperfection as to the general end of perfecting the church-state, be here intimated.
3. There is an especial remedy, expressed in the testimony, against the evil which God complains of, or finds fault with in the people. The complaint against them was, that they continued not in his covenant. This is expressly provided against in the promise of this new covenant, ver. 10. Wherefore,
4. God gives this promise of a new corenant, together with a complaint against the people, that it might be known to be an effect of free and sovereign grace. There was nothing in the people to procure it, or to qualify them for it, unless it were that they had wickedly broken the former. hence observe,
Obs. I. God hath oft-times just cause to complain of his people when yet he will not utterly cast them off-It is mere incrcy and grace that the church at all seasons lives on; but in some seasons, when it falls under great provocations, they are signalized
Obs. II. It is the duty of the church to take deep notice of God's complaints of them.-This indeed is not in the text, but ought not to be passed by, on this occasion of the mention of God's complaining, or finding fault with them. And God doth not thus find fault only when he speaks immediately by new revelations, as our Lord Jesus Christ found fault with, and rebuked his churches, in the revelation made to the apostle John, but he doth it continually by the rule of the word.' And it is the especial duty of all churches, and of all believers, to search diligently into what God finds fault withal, in his word, and to be deeply affected therewith, so far as they find themselves guilty. Want hereof is that which hath laid most churches in the world under a fatal security. Hence they say, or think, or carry themselves, as though they were ' rich and increased in goods, and had need of nothing,' when indeed they are wretched and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked." To consider what God blames, and to affect our souls with a sense of guilt, is that trembling at his word which he so approves of . And every church that intends to walk with God to his glory, ought to be diligent in this duty. And to guide them herein, they ought carefully to consider,
1. The times and seasons that are passing over them. God brings his church under variety of seasons; and in them all, requires especial duties from them, as those wherein he will be glorified in each of them. If they miss it herein, it is that which God greatly blames and complains of. Faithfulness with God in their generation, that is, in the especial duties of the times and seasons wherein they live, is that which Noah and David, and other holy men, are commended for. Thus there are seasons of the great abounding of wickedness in the world, seasons of great apostasy from truth and holiness, seasons of judgment and of mercy, of persecution and tranquillity. In all these, and the like, God requireth especial duties of the church, whereon bis glory in them doth much depend. If they fail here, if they are not faithful as to their especial duty, God in his word finds fault with them, and lays them under blame. And as much wisdom is required hereunto, so I do not judge that any church can discharge its duty in any competent measure, without a due consideration of it. For in a due obserą vance of the times and seasons, and an application of ourselves to the duties of them, consists that testimony which we are to give to God and the gospel, in our generation. That church which considers not its especial duty in the days wherein we live, is fast asleep, and it may be doubted whether, when it is awaked, it will find oil in its vessel or not.
2. The temptations which are prevalent, and which unavoid, ably we are exposed unto. Every age and time hath its especial temptations. And it is the will of God, that the church should be exercised with them and by them; and it were easy to manifest, that the darkness and ignorance of men, in not dis. cerning the especial temptations of the age wherein they have lived, or neglecting of them, have been always the great causes and means of the apostasy of the church. Hereby hath superstition prevailed in one age, and profaneness in another, and false and noxious opinions in a third. Now, there is nothing that God requires more strictly of us, than that we should be wakeful against present prevalent temptations, and chargeth us with guilt where we are not sq. And those who are not awake with respect unto those temptations which are at this day prevalent in the world, are far enough from walking before. God unto all well-pleasing. And sundry other things of the like nature might be mentioned unto the same purpose.
Obs. III. God often surpriseth the church with promises of grace and mercy.--In this place, where God complaineth of the people, findeth fault with them, charging them for not continuing in his covenant, and declares that, as unto any thing in themselves, he regarded them not, it might be easily expected that he would proceed unto their utter casting off and rejection. But instead hereof, God surpriseth them as it were with the most eminent promise of grace and mercy that ever was made, or could be made, unto them. So he doth in like manner, Isa. vi. 13, 14. xliii. 22–25. And this he will do,
1. That he may glorify the riches and freedom of his grace. This is his principal end in all his dispensations towards his church. And how can they be made more conspicuous, than in the exercise of them; then, when a people are so far from all appearance of any desert of them, as that God declares his judg. ment that they deserve his utmost displeasure ?
2. That none who have the least remainder of sincerity, and desire to fear the name of God, may utterly faint and despond at any time, under the greatest confluence of discouragements. God can come in, and will oft-times, in a way of sovereign grace, for the relief of the most dejected sinners. But we must proceed with our exposition.
Secondly, The second'thing contained in this verse, is the testimony itself insisted on. And there is in the testimony,
1. The author of the promise declared in it, he saith ;' as afterwards, saith the Lord.'
2. The note of its introduction, signalizing the thing intended, Behold.
3. The time of the accomplishment of what is here foretold, and here promised, the days come wherein.'
4. The thing promised is a covenant, concerning which is expressed, 1st, He that makes it : •1;' • I will make. 2d, Those with whom it is made, the house of Israel, and the house of Judah.' 3d, The manner of its making, curtidsow. 4th, The property of it; it is a new covenant.
First, He who gives this testimony, is included in the word deyss, he saith. . For finding fault with them, he saith.' He who complains of the people for breaking the old covenant, promiseth to make the new. So in the next verse it is expressed, Saith the Lord.' The ministry of the prophet was made use of in the declaration of these words and things, but they are properly his words from whom they are by immediate inspiration.
Obs. IV. ' He saith,' that is, 07179 Dx, saith the Lord,' is the formal object of our faith and obedience.--Hereunto are they to be referred, herein do they acquiesce, and in nothing else will they so do. All other foundations of faith, as Thus saith the pope, or Thus saith the church, or Thus said our ançestors, are all but delusions. Thus saith the Lord, gives rest
Secondly, There is the note of introduction calling unto attendance, 77377, ide, · Behold.' That to which our attention is thus called, is always found eminent, either in itself, or in some of its circumstances; for the word calls for more than ordinary diligence, in the consideration of, and attention unto, what is proposed. And it was needful to signalize this promise ; for the people unto whom it was given were very difficultly drawn from their adherence unto the old covenant, which was inconsistent with that now promised. And there seems to be