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the law, is witnessed by the law and the prophets, Rom. iii. 21. ; that is, testimony is given to it in legal institutions, and the promises recorded in the prophets ; but these things were obscure to them, who were to seek for what was intended, under the vails and shadows of priests and sacrifices, atonements and expiations. But our justification before God in all the causes of it, being now fully revealed and made manifest, it hath a great influence into spiritual liberty and boldness.
3. By the spiritual light which is given to believers into the mystery of God in Christ. This the apostle affirms to hase been hid in God from the beginning of the world, Eph. iii. 9. It was contrived and prepared in the counsel and wisdom of God from all eternity. Some intimation was given of it in the first promise, and was afterwards shadowed out by sundry legal institutions. But the depth, the glory, the beauty and fulness of it was hid in God, in his mind and will, till it was fully revealed in the gospel. The saints under the old testament believed that they should be delivered by the promised Seed, that they should be saved for the Lord's sake, that the Angel of the covenant would save them, yea, that the Lord himself would . come to his temple ; and they diligently inquired into what was fore-signified concerning the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. But all this while their thoughts and conceptions were exceedingly in the dark, as to those glorious things which are made so plain in the new covenant, concerning the incarnation, mediation, sufferings and sacrifice of the Son of God, concerning the way of God's being in Christ reconciling the world to himself. Now as darkness gives fear, so light gives liberty.
4. We obtain this liberty by the opening of the way into the holiest, and the entrance we have thereby with boldness to the throne of grace. This also the apostle insists on peculiarly in sundry place, of his ensuing discourses, as chap. ix. 8. x. 19 -22.; where it must be spoken to, if God permit, at large. For a great part of the liberty of the New Testament doch consist herein. 5. By all the ordinances of gospel-worship. How
How the ordia nances of worship under the Old Testament did lead the people into bondage, hath been declared. But all those of the New Testament, through their plainness in signification, their immediate respect to the Lord Christ, with their use and efficacy to guide believers in their cominunion with God, do all conduce to our evangelical liberty. And of such importance is our liberty in this instance of it, that when the apostle saw it necessary for the avoiding of offence and scandal, to continue the observance of one or two legal institutions, in abstinence from some things in themselves indifferent, they did it only for a season, and declared that it was only in case of scandal, that
they would allow this temporary abridgment of the liberty given us by the gospel.
XII. They differ greatly with respect to the dispensation and grant of the Holy Ghost. It is certain, that God did grant the gift of the Holy Spirit under the Old Testament, and his operations during that season, as I have at large elsewhere declared. But it is no less certain, that there was always a promise of his more signal effusion, on the confirmation and esta. blishment of the new covenant. See in particular that great promise to this purpose, Joel ii
. 28, 29. as applied and expound. ed by the apostle Peter, Acts ii. 17, 18. yea, so sparing was the communication of the Holy Ghost under the Old Testament, compared with his effusion under the New, as that the evangelist affirms, that the Holy Ghost was not yet, because that Jesus was not yet glorified,' John vii. 39. that is, he was not yet given in that manner in which he was to be given, on the confirmation of the new covenant. And those of the church of the Hebrews who had received the doctrine of John, yet affirmed that' they had not so much as heard whether there were any Holy Ghost or not, Acts xix. 2. that is, any such gift and communication of him, as was then proposed as the chief privilege of the gospel. Neither doth this concern only the plentiful effusion of him, with respect to those miraculous gifts and operations wherewith the doctrine and establishment of the new covenant was testified unto and confirmed; however, that also gave a signal difference between the two covenants. For the first covenant was confirmed by dreadful appearances and operations effected by the ministry of angels; but the new, by the immediate operation of the Holy Ghost himself. But this difference principally consists herein, that under the New Testament, the Holy Ghost hath graciously condescended to bear the office of the comforter of the church. That this unspeakable privilege is peculiar to the New Testament, is evident trom all the promises of his being sent as a comforter, made by our Saviour, John xiv. 15, 16. especially that, wherein he assures his disciples, that unless he went away, in which going away, he confirmed the new covenant, the comforter would not come, but if he so went away, he would send him from the Father, chap. xvi. 7. And the difference between the two covenants which ensued hereon, is inexpressible.
XIII. They differ in the declaration made in them, of the kingdom of God. It is the observation of Austin, that the very name of the kingdom of heaven, is peculiar unto the New Testament. It is true, Ged reigned in and over the church under the Old Testament; but his rule was such, and had such a relation unto secular things, especially with respect unto the land of Canaan, and the flourishing condition of the people herein, as that it had an appearance of a kingdom of this world. And that it was so, and was so to be, consisting in empire, power, victory, wealth and peace, was so deeply fixed in the minds of the generality of the people, that the disciples of Christ themselves, could not free themselves of that apprehension, until the New Testament was fully established. But now in the gospel, the nature of the kingdom of God, where it is, and wherein it consists, is plainly and evidently declared, unto the unspeakable consolation of believers. For whereas it is now known and experienced to be internal, spiritual and heavenly, they have no less assured interest in it, and advantage by it, in all the troubles which they may undergo in this world, than they could have in the fullest possession of all earthly enjoyments.
XIV. They differ in their substance and end. The old covenant was typical, shadowy and removeable, Heb. x. 1. The new covenant is substantial and permanent, as containing the body, which is Christ. Now, consider the old covenant comparatively with the new; and this part of its nature, that it was typical and shadowy, is a great debasement of it. But consider it absolutely, and the ihings wherein it was so, were its greatest glory and excellency. For in these things alone, was. it a token and pledge of the love and grace of God. For those things in the old covenant which had most of bondage in their use and practice, bad most of light and grace in their signification. This was the design of God in all the ordinances of worship belonging unto that covenant, namely, to typify, shadow and represent the heavenly substantial things of the new covenant, or the Lord Christ, and the work of his mediation. This the tabernacle, ark, altar, priests and sacrifices, did do, and it was their glory that so they did. However, compared with the substance in the new covenant, they have no glory.
XV. They differ in the extent of their administration, according unto the will of God. The first was confined unto the posterity of Abraham according to the flesh, and unto them especially in the land of Canaan, Deut. v. 3. with some few proselytes that were joined unto them, excluding all others from the participation of the benefits of it. And hence it was, that whereas the personal ministry of our Saviour himself, in preaching of the gospel, was to precede the introduction of the new covenant, it was confined unto the people of Israel, Matt. xv. 24. And he was the minister of the circumcision, Rom. xv. 8. ; such narrow bounds and limits had the administration of this covenant affixed unto it by the will and pleasure of God, Psal. cxlvii. 19, 20. But the administration of the new covenant is extended unto all nations under heaven, none being excluded on the account of tongue, language, family, nation, or place of habitation. All have an equal interest in the risiøg sun. The partition wall is broken down, and the gates of the new Jerusalem are set open unto all comers upon the gospel invisation. This is frequently taken notice of in the Scripture ; see Matt. xxviii. 19. Mark xvi. 15. John xi. 51, 52. xii. 32. Act; xi. 18. xvii. 30. Gal. v. 6. Eph. ii. ll_16. iii. 8-10. Col. iii, 10, 11. John ii, 2. Rev. v. 9. This is the grand chater of the poor wandering Gentiles. Having wilfully fallen off from God, he was pleased in his holiness and severity to leave all our ancestors for many generations to serve and wors ship the devil. And the mystery of our recovery was hid in God from the foundation of the world, Eph. iii. 8-10. And although it was so foretold, so prophesied of, so promised under the Qid Testament, yet such was the pride, blindness and obstinacy of the greatest part of the church of the Jews, that its ac-. complishment was one great part of that stumbling-block whereat they fell; yea, the greatness and glory of this mystery was such, that the disciples of Christ themselves comprehended it not, until it was testihed unto them, by the pouring out of the Holy Ghost, the great promise of the new covenant, upon some of those poor Gentiles, Acts xi. 18.
XVI. They differ in their efficacy. For the old covenant made nothing perfect; it could effect none of the things it did represent, nor introduce that perfect or complete state, which God had designed for the church. But this we have at large insisted on in our exposition of the foregoing chapter.
XVII. They differ in their duration ; for the one was to be removed, and ihe other to abide for ever, which must be declared on the ensuing verses.
It may be other things of a like nature may be added unto these that we have mentioned, wherein the difference between the two covenants doth consist ; but these instances are sufficient unto our purpose. For some, when they hear that the covenant of grace was always one and the same, of the same nature and efficacy under both Testaments, that the way of salvation by Christ was always one and the same, are ready to think that there was no such great difference between their state and ours as is pretended. But we see that on this supposition, that covenant which God brought the people into at Sinai, and under the yoke whereof they were to abide until the new covenant was established, had all the disadvantages attending it which we have insisted on. And those who understand not how excellent and glorious those privileges are, which are added unto the covenant of grace, as to the administration of it by the introduction and establishment of the new covenant, are utterly unacquainted with the nature of spiritual and heavenly things.
There remaineth yet one thing more, which the Socinians give us occasion to speak unto, from these words of the apostle, that • the new covenant is established on better promises. For from hence they do conclude, that there were no promises of life under the Old Testament, which, in the latitude of it, is a senseless and brutish opinion. And,
1. The apostle in this place, intends only those promises whereon the New Testament was legally ratified, and reduced into the form of a covenant, which were, as he declares, the promises of especial pardoning mercy, and of the efficacy of grace in the renovation of our natures. But it is granted that the other covenant was legally established on promises which respected the land of Canaan. Wherefore it is granted, that as to the promises whereby the covenants were actually established, those of the new covenant were better than the other.
2. The old covenant had express promises of eternal life. He that doth these things shall live in them.' It was indeed with respect unto perfect obedience that it gave that promise ; however that promise it had, which is all that at present we inquire after.
3. The institution of worship which belonged unto that covenant, the whole ministry of the tabernacle as representing heavenly things, had the nature of a promise in them; for they all directed the church to seek for life and salvation in and by Jesus Christ alone.
4. The question is not, what promises are given in the law itself, or the old covenant formally considered as such ; but what promise they had who lived under that covenant, and which were not disannulled by it. For we have proved sufficiently, that the additions of this covenant, did not abolish or supersede the efficacy of any promise that God had before given unto the church. And to say that the first promise, and that given unto Abraham, confirmed with the oath of God, were not promises of eternal life, is to overthrow the whole Bible, both Old Testament and New. And we may observe from the foregoing discourses,
Obs. X. That although one state of the church hath had great advantages and privileges above another, yet no state had whereof to complain, while they observed the terms prescribed unto them.-We have seen in how many things, and those most of them of the highest importance, the state of the church under the new covenant, excelled that under the old, yet was that in itself a state of unspeakable grace and privileges ; for,
1. It was a state of near relation unto God, by virtue of a co. venant. And when all mankind had absolutely broken covenant with God by sin, to call any of them into a new covenant relation with himself, was an act of sovereign grace and mercy. Herein were they distinguished from the residue of mankind, whom God suffered to walk in their own ways, and winked at their ignorance, while they perished all in the pursuit of their foolish imaginations. A great part of the book of Deuteronomy,