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TiTunaiwns is of an active signification, and denotes an anthoritative act of God upon the old covenant, whereof the calling the other new, was a sign and evidence. Ile would not have done so, but that he had made the other old: for with respect thereunto this is called new. But yet it was the designation of the new covenant, that was the foundation of making the other old.
The word respecting the time past, we must inquire what time it doth reter unto. And this must be either the time of the prediction and promise of the new covenant, or the time of its introduction and establishment. And it is the first season that is intended. For the introduction of the new covenant did actually take away and abolish the old, making it to disappear; but the act of God here intended, is only his making it old in order thereunto. And he did this upon and by the give ing of this promise, and afterwards by various acts, and in various degrees.
First, He did it by calling the faith of the church from resting in it, through the expectation of the bringing in of a better in the room of it. This brought it under a decay in their minds, and gave it an undervalution unto what it had betore. They were now assured, that something much better would in due time be introduced. Hence, although they abode in the observance of the duties and worship it required, it being the will of God that so they should do, yet this expectation of and longing after the better covenant now promised, made it decay in their minds and affections. So did God make it old.
Secondly, He did it by a plain declaration of its infirmity, weakness and insufficiency for the great ends of a perfect covenant between God and the church. Many things unto this purpose might have been collected out of the nature of its institutions and promises, from the first giving of it, as is done by our apostle in his present discourses. But these things were not clearly understood by any in those days; and as to the most, the vail was on them that they could not see at all unto the end of the things that were to be done away. But now when God himself comes positively to declare by that prophet, that it was so weak and insufficient, and that therefore he would make another, a better covenant with them; this made it old, or declared it to be in a tendency unto a dissolution.
Thirdly, From the giving of this promise, God did various. ly by bis providence break in upon and weaken its adininistra. tion, which by its decaying age was more and more manifested, For,
1. Immediately after the giving of this promise, the Babylonian captivity gave a total intercision and interruption unto the whole administration of it, for seventy years. This having never before fallen out from the making of it on mount Sinai,
was an evident token of its approaching period, and that God would have the church to live without it.
2. Upon the return of the people from their captivity, neither the temple, nor the worship of it, nor any of the admini. strations of the covenant, nor the priesthood, were ever restor.' ed unto their pristine beauty and glory. And whereas the people in general were much distressed at the apprehension of its decay, God comforts them, not with any intimation that things under that covenant should ever be brought into a better condition, but only with an expectation of His coming amongst them, who would put an utter end unto all the administrations of it, Hag. ii. 6-9. And from that time forwards, it were easy to trace the whole process of it, and to manifest how it continually declined towards the end.
Thus did God make it old, by variously disposing of it unto its end ; and to give an evidence thereof, called the other covenant which he would make, • a new one.' And it did not de. cay of itself. For no institution of God will ever wax old of ilself; will ever decay, grow infirm, or perish, unless it be dis. annulled by God himself. Length of time will not consume divine institutions, nor can the sins of men abate their force. He only that sets them up, can take them down. And this is the first argument of the apostle, taken from this testimony, to prove that the first covenant was to be abolished. But whereas it may be questioned, whether it directly follows or not, that it must be taken away because it is made old, he confirms the truth of his inference from a general maxim, which hath the nature of a new argument also. Now,' saith he, that which decayeth and waxeth old, is ready to vanish away.' Old is sig. nificative of that which is to have an end, and which draws towards its end. Every thing that can wax old hath an end ; and that which doth so, draws towards that end. So the psalmist affirming that the heavens themselves shall perislı, adds as a proof thereof, they shall wax old as a garment; and then none can doubt but they must have an end, as unto their substance or
1. There is in the words, the notation of the subject, so de, but that,' or that, whatever it be. The general rule gives evidence unto the former inference, whatever it be that waxeth old."
2. The description of it in a double expression, ka haispesvou and yngwoxor. The words are generally supposed to be synonymous, and to be used for emphasis only. We express the first by decay, that which decayeth,' to avoid the repetition of the same word, we having no other to express • waxing old,' or
made old.' by. But Acc8pestov, is not properly that which decayeth, it is ihat which hath the effect passively of tomadawat, that which is made old; and it properly respecteth things.
Things are so said to be made old, not persons. But the other word gngacxor, respects persons, not things. Men, and not inanimate things, are said gagnoser. Wherefore, although the apostle might have used a pleonasm to give emphasis unto his as. sertion, and to aver the certainty of the end of the old covenant; yet nothing hinders, but that we may think that he had respect unto the things and persons that belonged unto its ad. ministration.
That which is affirmed of this subject of the proposition, is, that it is syyus apariovas, near unto a disappearance, that is an abolition, and taking out of the way. The proposition is universal, and holds absolutely in all things, as is evident in the light of nature. Whatever brings things to a decay and age, will bring them to an end; for decay and age are the expressions of a tendency to an end. Let an angel live ever so long, he waxeth not old, because he cannot die. • Waxing old' is absolutely opposed unto an eternal duration, Psal. cii. 26, 27.
It being the removal of the old covenant, and all its administrations, that is respected, it may be inquired why the apostle expresseth it by apawiopeos, ' a disappearance or vanishing out of sight.' And respect may be had herein, 1. To the glorious outward appearance of the administrations of it. This was that which greatly captivated the minds and affections of those Hebrews unto it. They were carnal themselves, and these things, the fabric of the temple, the ornaments of the priests, the or. der of their worship, had a glory in them, which they could behold with their carnal eyes, and cleave unto with their carnal affections. · The ministration of the letter was glorious.' All this glory, saith the apostle, shall shortly disappear, shall vanish out of your sight, according to the prediction of our Lord Jesus Christ, Mat. xxiv. 2. To the gradual removal of it.
It departed as a thing will by its removal out of our sight. We by little and little lose the prospect of it, until it utterly disappear. How it was made so to disappear, at what time, in what degrees, by what acts of divine authority, must be spoken unio distinctly elsewhere. All the glorious institutions of the law, were at best but as stars in the firmament of the church, and therefore were all to disappear at the rising of the Sun of righteousness.
To Oin doze.
Tue general design of the apostle in these discourses, is to manifest and prove, that the old covenant made with the church at Sinai, with all the ordinances of worship and privileges thereunto belonging, was taken away, or ceased to be of any force in the church. Hereon did a total alteration of the whole present church-state of the Hebrews depend; which, it is easy to thiok how difficult it was with them to forego. For they both looked on it to be of God's own appointment, as it was, and expected all their happiness by a strict adherence unto it. Wherefore, that they might with the more readiness embrace the truth, he not only declares that de facto that covenant liad ceased, but evinceth by all sorts of reasons, that it was necesa sary that so it should do ; and that unspeakable advantages did accrue unto the church thereby.
In the pursuit of this design, he unfolds unto them the greatest mysteries of the wisdom and counsel of God, that ever were revealed unto the church, before he spake unto us by the Son. For,
1. On this occasion he takes off the vail from the face of Moses, declaring the nature and end of the old covenant, the use, signification and efficacy of all the institutions and ordinances of worship thereunto belonging. They were all prescribed unto the diligent observance of the church of the Old Testament; and their adherence unto them, was the great trial of their obedience unto God, whilst that church-state continued, Mal. iv. 4, 5. Howbeit, the best among them were much in the dark as to their proper use and signification. For the vail was so on the face of Moses, that the children of Israel could not look stedfastly to the end of that which was to be abolished, 2 Cor. iii. 13. This he now doctrinally removes; and the sole reason why the Hebrews did not hereon behold the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, nor yet do unto this day, is, because there was and is a vail of blindness on their minds, as well as there was a vail of darkness on the face of Moses; and it is only converting grace that can remove it. • When they shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away,' ver. 16.
2. He takes occasion from hence, to declare the great mys. tery of the redemption of the church by Christ; of the office that he bare, and of the work that he performed therein. This was that which he principally designed, as being indeed the sole foundation of Christian religion. Wherefore, we have in this epistle, a clear exposition of the first promise, with all those which were given in the explication or confirmation of it; and also of the law and of its worship, which were afterwards introduced'; that is in general of the whole Old Testament, or of the instruction which God gave to the church under it. Hence that blessed light which now shines forth in the promises and legal institutions of the Old Testament, is derived unto us, through the exposition of them given unto us by the Holy Ghost, in this epistle. We are, therefore, to remember, that in our inquiries into these things, we are conversant in the deepest mysteries of the wisdom and counsel of God; those which animated the faith and obedience of both churches; which calls not only for our utmost diligence, but for continuat reverence and godly fear.
Unto the general end mentioned, the apostle makes use of all sorts of arguments, taken from the constitution, nature, use, efficacy, officers and ordinances of the one covenant and the other; comparing them together. And in all his arguings, he openly designs the demonstration of these two things; 1. That the old covenant, with all its administrations, was to
2. That it was not only to the advantage of the church, that they should so do, but absolutely necessary, that it might be brought unto that perfect state which it was designed unto, s
In order unto the first of these, he hath done two things in the preceding chapters. 1. He hath declared, that there were prefigurations and predictions of the cessation of the first cox venant, and of all its administrations. As also, that God had so ordered all things in and under that covenant, as that they must necessarily expire and cease at a certain appointed time. 2. He hath evinced the necessity hereof, because that covenant could not consummate the state of the church, nor give assura ed rest and peace unto the consciences of them, that approached unto God in and by its services. And both these he cona firms, by the consideration of the typical nature of all its or dinances and institutions. For whereas, there was in and by them a representation made of heavenly things, those heavenly things themselves could not be introduced, without their removal:
It is the second thing mentioned, or the advantage of the church by the taking away of the first covenant, and all its sa+ cred administrations, that he principally insists upon. For herein he designed (as was before observed) to declare the glo