Page images
PDF
EPUB

somewhat more intimated in this word, besides a call unto especial attention. And that is, that the thing spoken of is plainly proposed unto them concerned, so as that they may look upon it, and behold it clearly and speedily. And so is this new covenant, here proposed so evidently and plainly, both in the entire nature and properties of it, that unless men wilfully turn away their eyes, they cannot but see it.

Obs. V. Where God placeth a note of observation and at. tention, we should carefully fix our faith and consideration.-God sets not any of his marks in vain. And if upon the first view of any place or thing so signalized, the evidence of it dotha not appear unto us, we have a sufficient call unto farther dili. gence in our inquiry. And if we are not wanting unto our duty, we shall discover some especial impression of divine excellency or another, upon every such thing or place.

Obs. VI. The things and concerns of the new covenant, are all of them objects of the best of our consideration.—As such are they here proposed, and what is spoken of the declaration of the nature of ihis covenant in the next verse, is sufficient to confirm this observation.

Thirdly, The time is prefixed for the accomplishment of this promise, Dx D'', nusqui sexOrtat, the days come.' Known unto God are all his works from the foundation of the world, and he hath determined the times of their accomplishment. As to the particular precise times or seasons of them, while they are future, he hath reserved them unto himself, unless where he hath seen good to make some especial revelation of them. So he did of the times of the sojourning of the children of Israel in Egypt, of the Babylonish captivity, and of the coming of the Messiah after the return of the people, Dan. ix. But from the giving of the first promise, wherein the foundation of the church was laid, the accomplishment of it is frequently referred unto the latter days; see our Exposition on chap. i. 1. Hence under the Old Testament, the days of the Messiah were called the world to come, as we have shewed, ch. ii. 5. And it was a periphrasis of him, that he was ó egzoutvos, Matt. xi. 3. · He that was to come.' And the faith of the church was principally exercised in the expectation of his coming. And this time is here intended. And the expression in the original is in the present tense, husger sexortæl, from the Hebrew, x D12, the days coming,' not the days that come, but the days come. And two things are denoted thereby.

1. The near approach of the days intended. The time was now hastening apace, and the church was to be awakened unto the expectation of it; and this, accompanied with their earnest desires and prayers for it, which were the most acceptable part of the worship of God, under the Old Testament.

2. A certainty of the thing itself was hereby fixed in their

minds. Long expectation they had of it, and now stood in need of new security, especially considering the trial they were falling into, in the Babylonish captivity. For this seemed to threaten a defeat of the promise, in the casting away of the whole nation. The manner of the expression is suited to confirm the faith of them that were real believers among them, against such fears. Yet we must observe, that from the giving of this promise unto the accomplishment of it, was near six hundred years. And yet about ninety years after, the prophet Malachi, speaking of the same season, affirms, that the Lord whom they sought, should suddenly come unto his temple,' Mal. iii. 1.

Obs. VII. There is a time limited and fixed for the accomplishment of all the promises of God, and all the purposes of his grace towards the church; see Hab. ii. 3, 4. And ihe consideration hereof is very necessary unto believers in all ages.

1. To keep up their hearts from desponding, when difficul. ties against their accomplishment do arise, and seem to render it impossible. Want hereof hath turned aside many from God, and caused them to cast their lot and portion into the world.

2. To preserve them from putting themselves on any irregular ways for their accomplishment.

3. 'To teach them to search diligently into the wisdom of God, who hath disposed times and seasons as unto his own glory, so unto the trial and real benefit of the church.

Fourthly, The subject matter of the promise given, is diet izin, 'a covenant,'niga. The Seventy render it by dranxa, a testament.' And that is more proper in this place than a corenant. For if we take covenant' in a strict and proper sense, it hath indeed no place between God and man. For a covenant strictly taken, ought to proceed on equal terms, and a proportionate consideration of things on both sides. But the covenant of God is founded on grace, and consists essentially in a free undeserved promise. And therefore 773, “a covenant,' is never spoken of between God and man, but on the part of God it consists in a free promise, or a testament. And a testament, which is the proper signification of the word here used by the apostle, is suited unto this place, and nothing else. For,

1. Such a covenant is intended, as is ratified and confirmed by the death of him that makes it. And this is properly a testament. For this covenant was confirmed by the death of Christ, and that both as it was the death of the testator, and as it was accompanied with the blood of a sacrifice, whereof we must treat afterwards at large, if God will.

2. It is such a covenant, as wherein the covenanter, he that makes it, bequeathed his goods unto others in the way of a legacy. For this is done by Christ herein, as we must also declare afterwards. Wherefore our Saviour calls this covenant the new testament in his blood. This the word used by the apostle doth properly signify, and it is evident that he intends not a covenant absolutely and strictly so taken. With respect bereunto, the first covenant is usually called the old testament. For we intend not thereby the books of Scripture, or oracles of God, committed unto the church of the Jews, (which yet, as we have observed, are once called the Old Testament, 2 Cor. ji. 14.) but the covenant that God made with the church of Israel at Sinai, whereof we have spoken at large. And this was called a testament for three reasons.

First, Because it was confirmed by death ; that is, the death of the sacrifices that were slain and offered at its solemn esta. blishment. So saith our apostle, · The first testament was not dedicated without blood,' ch. ix. 18. But there is more required hereunto; for even a covenant, properly and strictly so call, ed, may be confirmed with sacrifices. "Wherefore,

Secondly, God did therein make over, and grant unto the church of Israel, the good things of the land of Canaan, with the privileges of his worship.

Thirdly, The principal reason of this denomination, 'the old testament,' is taken from its being typically significative of the death and legacy of the great Testator, as we have shewed.

We have treated somewhat before concerning the nature of the new testament, as considered in distinction from, and opposition unto the old. I shall here only briefly consider what concurreth unto the constitution of it, as it was then future, when this promise was given, and as it is here promised. And three things do concur hereunto.

1st, A recapitulation, colleetion, and confirmation of all the promises of grace that had been given unto the church from the beginning, even all that was spoken by the mouth of the holy prophets that had been since the world began, Luke i. 70. The first promise contained in it the whole essence and substance of the covenant of

grace.

All those afterwards given unto the church on various occasions, were but explications and confirmations of it. In the whole of them, there was a full declaration of the wisdom and love of God in sending his Son, and of his grace unto mankind thereby. And God solemnly confirmed then with his oath, namely, that they should be all accomplished in their appointed season. Whereas therefore the covenant here promised included the sending of Christ for the accomplishment of those promises, they are all gathered into one head therein. It is a constellation of all promises of grace.

2dly, All these promises were to be reduced into an actual covenant or testament two ways.

1. In that, as unto the accomplishment of the grace princie pally intended in them, they received it in the sending of Christ; and as to the confirmation and establishment of them for the

communication of grace unto the church, they received it in the death of Christ, as a sacrifice of agreement or atonement.

2. They are established as the rule and law of reconciliation and peace between God and man. This gives them the nature of a covenant. For a covenant is the solemn expression of the terms of peace between various parties, with the confirmation of them.

3dly, They are reduced into such form of law, as to become the only rule of the ordinances of worship and divine service, required of the church. Nothing unto these ends is now presented unto us, or. required of us, but what belongeth immediately unto the administration of this covenant, and the grace thereof. But the reader must consult what hath been discours ed at large unto this purpose on the 6th verse.

And we may see from bence, what it is that God here promiseth and foretelleth, as that which he would do in the days that were coming. For whereas they had the promise before, and so virtually the grace and mercy of the new covenant, it may be inquired what is yet wanting that should be promised solemnly under the name of a covenant. For the full resolution of this question, I must, as before, refer the reader unto what hath been discoursed at large about the two covenants, and the difference between them, on ver. 6. Here we may

brief. ly name some few things, sufficient unto the exposition of this place. As,

First, All those promises which had before been given out unto the church from the beginning of the world, were now reduced into the form of a covenant, or rather of a testament. The name of a covenant is indeed sometimes applied unto the promises of grace, before or under the Old Testament. But non, the word used in all those places, denoteth only a free, gratuitous promise, Gen. ix. 9. ch. xvi. 4. But they were none of them, nor all of them together, reduced into the form of a testament, which they could not be but by the death of the testator. And what blessed privileges and benefits were included herein, hath been shewed before, and must yet further be insisted on, in the exposition of the ninth chapter, if God permit.

Secondly, There was another covenant superadded unto the promises, which was to be the immediate rule of the obedience and worship of the church. And according unto their observa ance of this superadded covenant, they were esteemed to have kept or broken covenant with God. This was the old covenant in Sinai, as hath been declared. Wherefore the promises could not be in the form of a covenant unto the people, in as much as they could not be under the power of two covenants at once, and those, as it afterwards appeared, absolutely inconsistent. For this is that which our apostle proves in this place, namely, that where the promises were brought into the form, and had the use of a covenant unto the church, the former covenant must needs disappear, or be disannulled. Only they had their place and efficacy to convey the benefits of the grace of God in Christ unto them that did believe ; but God here foretelleth, that he will give them such an order and efficacy in the administration of his grace, as that all the fruits of it by Jesus Christ shall be bequeathed and made over unto the church in the way

of a solemn covenant. Thirdly, Notwithstanding the promises which they had received, yet the whole system of their

worship sprang from, and related unto the covenant made at Sinai. But now God promiseth a new state of spiritual worship, relating only unto the promises of grace, as brought into the form of a covenant.

Obs. VIII. The new covenant, as collecting into one all the promises of grace given from the foundation of the world, accomplished in the actual exhibition of Christ, and confirmed in his death, and by the sacrifice of his blood, and thereby becoming the sole rule of new spiritual ordinances of worship suited thereunto, was the great object of the faith of the saints of the Old Testament, and is the great foundation of all our present mercies.

All these things were contained in that new covenant, as such, which God here promiseth to make. For,

First, There was in it a recapitulation of all promises of grace. God had not made any promise, any intimation of his love or grace unto the church in general, nor unto any particular believer, but he brought it all into this covenant, so as that they should be esteemed, all and every one of them, to be given and spoken unto every individual person that hath an interest in this covenant. Hence all the promises made unto Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, with all the other patriarchs, and the oath of God whereby they were confirmed, are all of them made unto us, and do belong unto us no less than they did unto them to whom they were first given, if we are made partakers of this covenant. Hereof the apostle gives an instance in the singular promise made unto Joshua, which he applies unto believers, ch. xiii. 5. There was nothing of love nor grace in any of them, but was gathered up into this covenant.

Secondly, The actual exhibition of Christ in the flesh, belonged unto this promise of making a new covenant; for without it, it could not have been made. This was the desire of all the faithful from the foundation of the world; this they longed after, and fervently prayed for continually. And the prospect of it was the sole ground of their joy and consolation. < Abraham saw luis day, and rejoiced.' This was the great privilege, which God granted unto them that walked uprightly before him; such an one, saith he, shall dwell on high, his place of defence shall be the munition of rocks: bread shall be given

« EelmineJätka »