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ance of them, without seeking for righteousness or salvation by them, Acts xxi. 20.
2. Such as urged their observance as indispensably necessary to our justification before God, Acts sv. l. Gal. iii. 4. The first sort of these the apostles bore with in all meekness; yea, and using the liberty given them of the Lord, to avoid offend. ing of them, joined with them in their practice, as occasion did require, Acts xvi. 3. ch. xxi. 23, 24. 26. ch. xxvii. 9. 1 Cor. ix. 20. Whence for a long season, in many places, the worship of the gospel, and the synagogue worsbip of the law, were observed together, James ii. 2. though in process of time many disputes and differences were occasioned thereby, between the Gentile aud Jewish worshippers, Rom. xiv. The other sort they opposed, as perverters of the gospel which they pretended to profess, Acts xv. 5. Gal. ii. 13-16. ch. iv. 9-11. ch. v. 2. And of these, some afterwards apostatized to Judaism ; others abiding in a corrupt mixture of both professions, separated them selves from the church, and were called Nazarenes and Ebion. ites.
3d, Others, far the greatest number of the whole people, per. sisted in their old church-state, not receiving the salvation ihat was tendered unto them in the preaching of the gospel ; and these also were of two sorts. 1. Such as, although they had not embraced the faith, yet were free and willing to attend to the doctrine of it, searching the Scriptures for a discovery of its truth, and in the mean time instantly serving God, accord. ing to the light of the Old Testament which they had received, and in these was the essence of the Judaical church preserved to its final dissolution, Acts xvii. 11. ch. xxviii. 22-24. 2. Such as being hardened in their infidelity, blasphemed, scoffed at, and persecuted the gospel, with all that professed it, Acts xiii. 45. 50. ch. xiv. 19. ch. xvii. 5. 1 Thess. ii. 15, 16. Rom. xi. 7–10. whom, not long after, the vengeance of God overtook in their total destruction.
Now our apostle, vehemently thirsting after the salvation of the Hebrews in general, Rom. ix. 1. ch. x. 1. having all these several sorts or parties to deal with, so frames his Epistle unto them, that it might be suited to the good of all, in their conversion, instruction, edification and establishment, as their several conditions did require ; the latter sort only excepted, who being under judicial blindness, were cast out of the care of God, and of the apostle, Acts xii. 46. 51. Hence in part is that admirable contexture of this Epistle, which Peter ascribes to his eminent wisdom, 2 Pet. iii. 18. As it is indeed evident from the story, that he did excel in applying himself to the various principles, capacities and prejudices, of them with whom he had to do. The Lord Christ having set him forth as a great example
Sur and ch. 30. not lortions thirst
of that diligence, zeal and prudence, which he requires in the dispensers of the gospel. Divine reasonings, instructions, exhortations, promises, threats and arguments, are so interwoven in this Epistle from the beginning to the end, that all to whose hands or hearing it should come, might every where meet with that which was of especial and immediate concern to themselves, unto which of the sorts before mentioned soever they did belong And this principle we must have respect unto, in that intermix. ture of arguments to prove the truth of the gospel, with exhor: tations to constancy in the profession of it, which we shall meet with. The several conditions of those to whom the apostle wrote, required that way of procedure. Hence no one chapter in the Epistle is purely dogmatical, the first only excepted, nor purely parænetical ; for though the design that lies in view, and is never out of sight, be exhortation, yet far the greatest part of the Epistle is taken up in those doctrinals, wherein the foundations of the exhortations do lie, and both are interwoven toge. - ther, somewhat variously from the method of the same apostle
in all his other Epistles, as hath been observed ; that to the Galatians, which is of the like nature with this, only except. ed.
Secondly, A second thing to be previously observed is, that although those to whom the apostle wrote, were of the several sorts before mentioned, yet they centred in this, that they were Hebrews by birth and religion, who all agreed in some common principles relating to the subject about which he treated with them. These he makes use of unto them all; for though the unbelieving Jews did deny, or did not yet acknowledge, that Jesus was the Christ, yet they also consented to, or could not gainsay, what in the Old Testament was revealed concerning the person, office, dignity and work of the Messiah, when he should come, that being the faith whereby they were saved before his appearance, Acts xxvi. 6, 7. Upon these general principles wherein they also agreed, and which were the general persuasion of the whole Judaical church, the apostle lays the foundation of all his arguments. And hence he oft-times takes that for granted, which, without this consideration, should we look on any of those to whom he writes under the general notion of unbelievers, would seem to be the thing principally in question. And therefore have we at large already manisested what in those days was the avowed profession of the sounder part of the Judaical church concerning the Messiah, which the apostle here and elsewhere, in dealing with the Jews, built upon, Acts xxvi. 22, 23. 27. ch. xxviii. 23. ch. xiii. 16, 17. &c. which the reader must have constant respect to.
Thirdly, In urging testimonies out of the Old Testament, he doth not always make use of those that seem to be most per
spicuous and apposite to his purpose ; but oftentimes takes others more abstruse, obscure, and which at first view seem to, be of less evident consequence. And that upon a double ac, count. First, that he might instruct the believers amongst them in the more abstruse prophecies of the Old Testament, and thereby incite them to the further search after Christ under the Mosaic veil, and prophetical allegories, whereby he is therein expressed, aining to lead them on towards perfection, ch. v. 12. vi. 1. Secondly, because most of the testimonies he makes use of, were generally granted by the Jews of all sorts to belong to the Messiah, his kingdom and offices; and his des sign was to deal with them chiefly, upon their own concessions and principles. As we have some few other helps remaining to acquaint us with what was the received sense of the Judaical church concerning sundry passages in the Old Testament re. lating unto the promised Christ, so the paraphrases of Scripture that were either at that time in use amongst them, as was the Greek translation amongst the Hellenists; or about that time composed, as the Targums, at least some parts of them, will give us much light into it. What of that ancient sense appeareth yet in the corrupted copies of those translations which remain, being considered, will much evince the reason and suitableness of the apostle's quotations. And this is needful to be observed, to refute that impiety of same (as Cajetan) who not being able to understand the force of some testimonies cited by the apostle as to his purpose in hand, have questioned the authority of the whole epistle ; as also the mistake of Hierome, who in his epistle to Pammachius, rashly affirmed that Paul did quote Scriptures that were not indeed to his purposc, but out of design to stop the mouths of his adversaries, as he himself had dealt with Jovinian ; which was very far from him whose only design was a 119evisy Ex ayati, to promote the truth in love.
Fourthly, He takes it for granted in the whole epistle, that the Judaical church-state did yet continue, and that the wor. ship of it was not yet disallowed of God; suitably to what was before declared concerning his own and the other apostles' practice. Had that church-state been utterly abolished, all observance of Mosaic rites, which were the worship of that church as such, had been utterly unlawful, as now it is, Neither did the determination recorded Acts xv. abolish them as some suppose, but only free the Gentiles from their observance. Their free use was yet permitted unto the Jews. Acts xxi. 20, 22, 26. ch. xxvii. 9. and practised by Paul in particular, in his Nazaretical vow, Acts xxi. 26. which was attended with a sacrifice, Numb. vi. 13. Nor was Mosaic worship utterly to cease, so as to have no acceptance with God until the final ruin of that church, foretold by our Saviour himself, Mat. xxiv. by Peter, 2 epist. iii. by James also, ch. v. 6—9. and by our apostle in this epistle, ch. x. 37. ch. xii. 25–27. was accomplished.
Hence it is that our apostle calls the times of the gospel, the tvorld to come, ch. ii. 5. vi. 5. the name whereby the Jews denoted the state of the church under the Messiah, proper unto it only whilst the legal administrations of worship did continue. Thus as de facto he had shewed respect unto the person of the high priest, as one yet in lawful office, Acts xxii. 5; so doctrinally he takes it for granted, that that office was still continued, Heb. viii. 4, 5. with the whole worship instituted by Moses, ch. xiii. 11, 12. And this dispensation of God's patience being the last trial of that church, was continued in a proportion of time answerable to their abode in the wilderness upon its first erection; which our apostle minds them of, ch. iii. iv.
The law of Moses then was not actually abrogated by Christ, who observed the rules of it in the days of his flesh; nor by the apostles, who seldom used their liberty from it, leaving the use of it to the Jews still. But having done the work whereunto it was designed, and its obligation expiring, ending, and being removed, or taken away in the death and resurrection of Christ, and in the promulgation of the gospel that ensued thereupon, which doctrinally declared its aww pencer, or uselessness; God in his providence put an end unto it, as to its observance, in the utter and irrecoverable overthrow of the temple, the place designed for the solemn exercise of its worship; so did it decay, wax old, and vanish away, ch. viii. 13.
And this also God ordered in his infinite wisdom, that their temple, city and nation, and so consequently their whole churchstate, should be utterly wasted by the Pagan Romans, before the power of the empire came into the hands of men professing the name of Christ; who could neither well have suffered their temple to stand as by them abused, nor yet have destroyed it, without hardening them in their impenitence and unbelief.
Fifthly, That which is proposed unto confirmation in the whole epistle, and from whence all the inferences and exhortations insisted on do arise, and are drawn, is the excellency of the gospel, and the worship of God therein revealed and apa pointed, upon the account of its manifold relation to the person and offices of Christ the mediator, the Son of God. Now, because some of those to whom it is directed, did, as hath been declared, adhere to Mosaic ceremonies and worship, in conjunction with the gospel, others with a preterence of them above the gospel, and some to a relinquishment of the gospel, especially when they once found its profession obnoxious to persecution; the apostle institutes, and at large prosecutes a compa. rison between the law of Moses and the gospel, as to their useful. fiess and excellency, in reference unto men's acceptance with God, by the one and the other; as also of the spirituality, order, and beauty of the worship severally required in them. And herein, though he derogates in no respect from the law that which was justiy due unto it, yet on the accounts before mentioned, he preferreth the gospel before it; and not only so, but also manifests, that as Mosaic institutions were never of any other use, but to prefigure the real mediatory work of Christ, with the benefits thereof, so he being exhibited, and his work accomplished, their observance was become needless, and themselves, if embraced to a neglect or relinquishment of the gospel, pernicious.
This comparison, (wherein also the proof of the positive worth and excellency of the gospel is included), omitting for weighty reasons (intimated by James, Acts xxi. 21. and by himself, Acts ix 25. ch. xxii. 19-21.) all prefatory salutations, he enters upon in the first verses of the epistle; and having thereby occasion to make mention of the Messiah, froin whose per: son and office, the difference he was to insist upon did wholly arise, he spendeth the residue of the chapter in proving the divine excellency of his person, and the eminence of his office, as the only king, priest, and prophet of his church; on all which the dignity of the gospel, in the profession whereof he exhorts them to persevere, doth depend.
He then that would come to a right understanding of this epistle must always bear in mind, 1. To whom it was written, namely, the Jews of the several sorts before mentioned. 2. To what end it was written, even to prevail with them to embrace the gospel, and to persist in the profession of it, without any mixture of Mosaic observances. 3. On what principles the apostle deals with them in this argument, which are no other, for the most part, than what were granted by the Jews of all sorts. 4. What testimonies out of the Old Testament he insists on to prove his purpose, namely such as were commonly received in the Judaical church to belong to the Messiah and his office. 5. What he labours to instruct them in, as to the general use of all sorts amongst them, which is the nature and use of Mosaic rites. 6. The main argument he insists on for the ends before mentioned, which is the excellency of the gospel, the worship instituted therein, and the righteousness manifested thereby, upon the account of its author and subject, the principal efficient cause of its worship, and only procurer of the righteousness exhibited in it, even Jesus Christ, the Mes. siah, the Mediator, the eternal Son of God. Unless these things are well borne in mind, and the case of the Jews particularly heeded, our Exposition will, it may be, seem oft times to go