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There is no material difference in any translators, ancient or modern, in the rendering of these words; their signification in particular will be given in the exposition. Ver. 6.-But now he hath obtained a more excellent ministry,
by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant,
which was established on beller promises. In this verse beginneth the second part of the chapter, concerning the difference between the two covenants, the old and the new, with the pre-eminence of the latter above the former, and of the ministry of Christ above the high priests on that account. The whole church-state of the Jews, with all the ordinances and worship of it, and the privileges annexed to it, depended wholly on the covenant that God made with them at Sinai. But the introduction of this new priesthood whereof the apostle is discoursing, did necessarily abolish that covenant, and put an end to all sacred mnistrations that belonged to it. And this could not well be offered to them, without the supply of another covenant, which would excel the former in privileges and advantages. For it was granted among them, that is, was the design of God to carry on the church to a perfect state, as hath been declared on chap. vii. Wherefore he would not lead it backward, nor deprive it of any thing it had enjoyed, without provision of what was better in its room. This therefore the apostle here undertakes to declare. And he doth it after his wonted manner, from such principles and testimonies as were admitted among themselves.
Two things to this purpose he proves by express testimonies out of the prophet Jeremiah.
1. That besides the covenant made with their fathers in Sinai, God had promised to make another covenant with the church, in his appointed time and season.
2. That this other promised covenant should be of another nature than the former, and much more excellent as to spiritual advantages to them who were taken into it.
From both these fully proved, the apostle infers the necessity of the abrogation of that first covenant, wherein they trusted, and to which they adhered, when the appointed time was come. And hereon he takes occasion to declare the nature of the two covenants in sundry instances, and wherein the differences between them did consist. This is the substance of the remainder of this chapter.
This verse is a transition from one subject to another ; namely, from the excellency of the priesthood of Christ above that of the law, to the excellency of the new covenant above the old. And herein also the apostle artificially compriseth and confirmeth his last argument, of the pre-eminence of Christ, his priesthood and ministry, above those of the law. And this he doth from the nature and excellency of that covenant whereof he was the mediator in the discharge of his office.
There are two parts of the words.
I. An assertion of the excellency of the ministry of Christ. And this he expresseth by way of comparison, 'He hath obo tained a more excellent ministry:' and after, declareth the degree of that comparison, by how much also.
II. He annexeth the proof of this assertion, in that he is the mediator of a better covenant, established on better or more excellent promises.
In the first of these, there occur these five things. 1. The note of its introduction, But now.'
2. What is ascribed in the assertion to the Lord Christ, and that is a ' ministry.'
3. How he came by that ministry, He hath obtained it.'
4. The quality of this ministry, it is better or more excellent than the other.
5. The measure and degree of this excellency, “By how much also :' all which must be spoken to, for the opening of the words.
1. The introduction of the assertion is by the particles, vont di, . but now.' Nur, 'now,' is a note of time, of the present time. But there are instances where these adverbial particles thus conjoined, do not seem to denote any time or season, but are merely adversative, Rom. vii. 17. i Cor. v. 11. vii. 14. But even in those places there seems a respect to time also, and therefore I know not why it should be here excluded. As therefore there is an opposition intended to the old covenant, and the Levitical priesthood, so the season is intimated of the introduction of that covenant, and the better ministry wherewith it was accompanied. Now,' at this time, which is the season that God hath appointed for the introduction of the new covenant and ministry. To the same purpose the apostle expresseth himself, treating of the same subject, Rom. iii. 26. to declare,' 59 TW vuv raipa, 'at this instant season,' now the gospel is preach. ed, his righteousness.' For,
Obs. I. God in his infinite wisdom gives proper times and seasons, to all his dispensations to and towards the church.So the accomplishment of these things was in the fulness of times, Epb. i. 10.; that is, when all things rendered it seasonable and suitable to the condition of the church, and for the manifestation of his own glory. He hasteneth all his works of grace in their own appointed time, Isa. Ix. 22. And our duty it is, to leave the ordering of all the concerns of the church in the accomplishment of promises, to God in his own time, Actsi. 7.
2. Thai which is ascribed to the Lord Christ is antigria, • a ministry.' The priests of old had a ministry, they ministered at the altar, as in the foregoing verse. And the Lord Christ was a minister also; so the apostle had said before, he was Asitypy); ton sywv, ver. 2.5 a minister of the holy things.' Wherefore he had a liturgy, a ministry, a service committed to him. And two things are included herein.
1st, That it was an office of ministry that the Lord Christ undertook. He is not called a minister with respect to one particular act of ministration ; so are we said to minister to the necessity of the saints, which yet ilenotes no office in them that do so. But he had a standing office committed to him, as the word imports. In that sense also he is called docezovos, a minister in office, Rom. xv. 8.
2dly, Subordination to God is included herein. With respect to the chureh, his office is supreme, accompanied with sovereign power and authority ; he is Lord over his own house. But he holds his office in subordination to God, being faithful to him that appointed him. So the angels are said to minister to God, Dan. vii. 10. ; that is, to do all things according to his will, and at his command. So had the Lord Christ a ministry. Und we may observe,
Obs. Iİ. That the whole office of Christ was designed to the accomplishment of the will and dispensation of the grace of God. - For these ends was his ministry committed to him. We can never sufficiently admire the love and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, in undertaking this office for us. The greatness and glory of the duties which he performed in the discharge thereof, with the benefits we receive thereby, are unspeakable, being the immediate cause of all grace and glory. Yet we are not absolutely to rest in them, but to ascend by faith to the eternal spring of them. This is the grace, the love, the mercy of God, all exerted in a way of sovereign power. These are every where in the Scripture represented as the original spring of all grace, and the ultimate object of our faith, with respect to the benefits which we receive by the mediation of Christ. His office was committed to him of God, even the Father, and his will did he do in the discharge of it. Yet also,
Obs. Ill. The condescension of the Son of God to undertake the office of the ministry on our behalf, is unspeakable, and for ever to be admired.-- Especially will it appear so to be, when we consider who it was who undertook it, what it cost him, what he did and underwent in the pursuance and discharge of it, as it is all expressed, Phil. ii. 6_5. Not only what he continueth to do in heaven at the right hand of God, belongeth to this ministry, but all that he suffered also on the earth. His ministry in the undertaking of' it, was not a dignity, a promotion, a revenue, Mat. xx. 23. It is true, it is issued in glory, but not till he had undergone all the evils that human nature is capable of undergoing. And we ought to undergo any thing cheerfully for him who underwent this ministry for us.
Obs. IV. The Lord Christ, by undertaking this office of the ministry, hath consecrated and made honourable that office unto all, that are rightly called unto it, and do rightly discharge it. It is true his ministry and ours are not of the same kind and nature; but they agree in this, that they are both of them a ministry unto God, in the holy things of his worship. And considering that Christ himself was God's minister, we have far greater reason to tremble in ourselves, on an apprehension of our own insufficiency for such an office, than to be discouraged with all the hardships and contests we meet withal in the world, upon the account of it.
3. The general way whereby our Lord Christ came unto this ministry, is expressed, tilsyys, he obtained it.' Televyi is either sorte contingo, to have a lot or portion,' or to have any thing befal a man, as it were by accident; or assequor oblineo, to attain,' or obtain any thing which before we had not. But the apostle designeth not to express in this word, the especial call of Christ, or the particular way whereby he came unto his ministry, but only in general, that he had it, and was possessed of it, in the appointed season, which before he had not. The way whereby he entered on the whole office and work of his mediation, he expresseth by xexangovouenxs, chap. i. 4. he had it by inheritance,' that is, by free grant and perpetual donation, made unto him as the Son. See the exposition on that place.
There were two things that concurred unto his obtaining this ministry. 1. The eternal purpose and counsel of God, designing him thereunto; an act of the divine will, accompanied with infinite wisdom, love and power. 2. The actual call of God, whereunto many things did concur, especially his unction with the Spirit above measure, for the holy discharge of his whole office. Thus did he obtain this ministry, and not by any legal constitution, succession, or carnal rite, as did the priests of old. And we may see, that,
Obs. V. The esaltation of the human nature of Christ, into the office of this glorious ministry, depended solely on the sovereign wisdom, grace and love of God. When the human nature of Christ was united unto the divine, it became, in the person of the Son of God, meet and capable to make satisfaction for the sins of the church, and to procure righteousness and life eternal for all that do believe. But it did not merit that union, nor could do so. For as it was utterly impossible that any created nature, by any act of its own, should merit the hypostatical union ; so it was granted unto the human nature of Christ, antecedently unto any act of its own in way of obedience unto God. For it was united unto the person of the Son by virtue of that union. Wherefore, antecedently unto it, it could merit nothing. Hence its whole exaltation, and the ministry that was discharged therein, depended solely on Vol. VI.
the sovereign wisdom and pleasure of God. And in this election and designation of the human nature of Christ unto grace and glory, we may see the pattern and example of our own. For if it was not upon the consideration or foresight of the obedience of the human nature of Christ, that he was predestinated and chosen unto the grace of the hypostatical union, with the ministry and glory which depended thereon, but of the mere sovereign grace of God; how much less could a foresight of any thing in us, be the cause why God should choose us in him, before the foundation of the world, unto grace and glory!
4. The quality of this ministry, thus obtained, as untó a comparative excellency, is also expressed, die Pogatigas, more excellent.' The word is used only in this epistle, in this sense, chap. i. 4. and in this place. The original word denotes only a difference from other things; but in the comparative degree, as here used, it signifies a difference with a preference, or a comparative excellency. The ministry of the Levitical priests, was good and useful in its time and season. This of our Lord Jesus Christ so differed from it, as to be better than it, and more excellent, hodov ausinoy. And,
5. There is added hereunto, the degree of this pre-eminence, so far as it is intended in this place, and the present argument, in the word oow, • by how much.' So much more excellent by how much. The excellency of his ministry above that of the Levitical priests, bears proportion with the excellency of the covenant whereof he was the mediator, above the old covenant wherein they administered; whereof afterwards.
So have we explained the apostle's assertion, concerning the excellency of the ministry of Christ. And herewith he closeth bis discourse which he had so long engaged in, about the pre-eminence of Christ in his office above the high priests of old. And indeed, this being the very hinge whereon his whole controversy with the Jews did depend, he could not give it too inuch evidence, nor too full a confirmation. And as unto what concerns ourselves at present, we are taught thereby, that,
Obs. VI. It is our duty and our safety to acquiesce universally and absolutely in the ministry of Jesus Christ. That which he was so designed unto, in the infinite wisdom and grace of God; that which he was so furnished for the discharge of, by the communication of the Spirit unto him in all fulness; that which all other priesthoods were removed to make way for, must needs be sufficient and effectual for all the ends unto which it is designed. It may be said, this is that which all men do; all that are called Christians, do fully acquiesce in the ministry of Jesus Christ. But if it be so, why do we hear the bleating of another sort of cattle ? What mean those other priests, and reiterated sacrifices, which make up the worship of the church of Rome? If they rest in the ministry of Christ, why do they