« PreviousContinue »
Christ, so certain is it, according to this Apostle, that Grace and Truth did not come by Moses. This Grace and Truth cannot be understood generically ; for, the grace or favour of God was bestowed on the chosen race, and truth, or the revealed will of God, did come by Moses. It must therefore be some species of grace and truth, of which the Apostle here predicates ; the publication of which species constitutes what is called the Gospel. And this all know to be redemption from death, and restoration to eternal life.
Again, to this part likewise, let us once more hear the learned Apostle: As by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin ; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: for until the Law, sin was in the world, but Sin is not imputed where there is no Law. Nevertheless Death reigned from Adam to Moses.* It is St. Paul's purpose to shew, that death came by Adam through sin, and so passed upon all men ; and that life came by Jesus Christ : But having said that Sin, which brings forth Death, is not imputed where there is no Law, lest this should seem to contradict what he had said of Death's passing upon all men, he adds, nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses ; taking it for granted that his followers would understand it must needs reign from Moses to Christ, as having made Sin's being IMPUTED to consist in there being a Law given, Now I ask how the Apostle could possibly say, that Death reigned under the Mosaic Dispensation, if that People had the knowledge of immortal life to be procured by a Redeemer to come, any more than it can be said to reign now with the same knowledge of a Redeemer past; since we agree that the efficacy of his death extends to all preceding as well as succeeding Ages ? Accordingly in his epistle to the Corinthians he calls the Jewish Law, the MINISTRATION OF DEATH, and the MINISTRATION OF CONDEMNATION.t
2. In his epistle to the Galatians, he says,—Before Faith came, we were kept under the Law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed ;f i. e. we were kept in subjection to the Law of Moses : and, by that means, shut up and sequestered from the rest of the Nations, to be prepared and made ready for the first reception of the faith, when it should in God's appointed time be revealed unto
From these words therefore it appears, that till that time, the Jews had no knowledge of this FAITH.
So much we must have concluded though he had not said, as he does afterwards, That till that time, the Jews were in bondage under the elements of this world. S Now could men acquainted with the doctrine of life and immortality be said, with any sense of propriety, to be in such a state of bondage? For though men in bondage may have an idea of Liberty, yet of this
• Rom. v. 12, et seq.
+ 2 Cor. iii. 7, et seq.
| Gal. iii. 23.
LIBERTY they could have no idea without understanding, at the same time, that they were partakers of its benefits.
3. In his second epistle to Timothy he expressly says, That JESUS CHRIST HATH ABOLISHED DEATH, AND HATH BROUGHT LIFE AND IMMORTALITY TO LIGHT THROUGH THE GOSPEL.* But now if Death were abolished by Jesus Christ, it is certain it had reigned till his coming : and yet it is as certain, that it could reign no longer than while the tidings of the Gospel were kept back; because we agree that Christ's death hath a retrospect operation : therefore those under the Law had no knowledge of life and immortality. Again : If life and immortality were brought to light through the Gospel, consequently, till the preaching of the Gospel, it was kept hid and out of sight. But if taught by Moses and the Prophets, it was not brought to light through the Gospel : therefore the generality of those under the Law had no knowledge of a future state. But Scripture is ever consistent, though men's systems be not. And for this reason we find that life and immortality, which is here said to be brought to light through the Gospel, is so often called the MYSTERY OF THE Gospel:I that is, a mystery till this promulgation of it by the disciples of Christ: Which had been hid from ages and from generations, but was then made manifest unto the Saints. The term was borrowed from those famous Rites of Paganism, so named; and is applied with admirable justness. For as the Mysteries were communicated only to a few of the wise and great, and kept hid from the populace : so life and immortality, as we shall see, was revealed by God, as a special favour, to the holy Patriarchs and Prophets, but kept hid from the body of the Jewish Nation.
4. The Author of the Epistle to the Hebrews says : That The Law MADE NOTHING PERFECT, BUT HOPE DID. Now, that could not be said to be brought in, which was there before. And had it been there before, the Law, it seems, had been perfect ; and, consequently, would have superseded the use of the Gospel. Therefore this better hope, namely of immortality in a future state, is not in the Mosaic Dispensation. Let us observe farther, that as the Gospel, by bringing in a better hope, made the Law perfect, it appears, there was that relation betwen the Law and Gospel which is between the beginning and the completion of any matter.
From whence these two consequences follow: 1. That the Law wanted something which the Gospel supplied : And what was that something but the doctrine of a future State ? 2. That the Law must needs make some preparation for that better hope which the Gospel was to bring in. What it was, the same writer tells us, namely, That it had A SHADOW See note SS, at the end of this book.
THE BRINGING IN OF A BETTER
See note TT, at the end of this book.
!! Heb. vii. 19.
2 Tim. i. 10.
$ Col. i. 26.
[oxiarof good things to come, but not the VERY IMAGE [eixóva) of the things. * Hence it is evident that by this shadow is meant such a typical representation, so faintly delineated, as not to be perceived by vulgar eyes, intent only on a carnal Dispensation. This was contrived for admirable purposes : For if, instead of a shadow or faint outline of a design, the Image itself, in full relief, had glaringly held forth the object intended, this object, so distinctly defined, would have drawn the Jews from that Oeconomy to which it was God's pleasure they should long continue in subjection : And had there been no delineation at all, to become stronger in a clearer light, one illustrious evidence of the Dependency between the two Religions had been wanting.
Again, the same Writer, to the same purpose, speaking of CHRIST says, But now hath he obtained a more excellent Ministry, by how much also he is the Mediator of a BETTER COVENANT, which was established upon BETTER PROMISES. For if the first Covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been found for the Second.t 1. We see that this better Covenant was established by Christ, and not by Moses. 2. If the first Covenant had been faultless, that is, had contained better promises, or taught the doctrine of a future state, there had been no room for a second.
To sum up all, This admirable writer gives in the last place, the fullest evidence to both parts of the proposition, namely, “That temporal rewards and punishments were the sanction of the Jewish Dispensation and that it had no other.” For in the second chapter we find these remarkable assertions.
Ver. 2. For if the word spoken by Angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience RECEIVED A JUST REWARD, How shall we escape, &c.
Ver. 5. For unto the Angels hath he not put in subjection the world TO COME, whereof we speak.
Ver. 14, 15. He [Christ]also himself likewise took part of the same [flesh and blood] that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death; that is, the Devil ; and deliver them, who through fear of Death were all THEIR LIFE-TIME subject to bondage.
Let us lay these three texts together. And we shall find, 1. from ver. 2. that the sanction of the Law, or the word spoken by angels, was of a temporal nature--every transgression received a just recompence. 2. From ver. 5. that the Law taught no future state— the world to come not being put in subjection to these angels. And 3. from ver. 14, 15. that the people had not the knowledge of such a state--being all their life-time subject to bondage. For the Devil is here said to have power of death, as he brought it into the world by • lleb. x. I.
† Heb. viii. 6, 7.
the delusion of the first Man. Therefore, before death can be abolished, He, who had the power of it, must be destroyed. But his destruction is the work of the SECOND Man. Till his coming therefore, the Jews, as we are here told, were through fear of death all their life-time subject to bondage. Christ then brought them into the glorious liberty of the children of God,* by setting before them life and immortality.
To all this, I hope, the reader will not be so inattentive to object, “That what is here produced from the New Testament to prove
that the followers of the Law had no future state, contradicts what I have more than once observed, That the later Jewish Prophets had given strong intimations of an approaching Dispensation, with a future state.” For the question is concerning a future state's being the Sanction of the Law, not of later intimations, of its being ready to become the sanction of the GOSPEL.
As inconsiderate would be this other objection, “That my point is to prove that this Dispensation had no future state of reward and punishment at all, and my evidence from the New Testament only shews they had not the Christian Doctrine of it.” For to this I answer, 1. That those I argue with, if they hold any difference between the Christian and general Doctrine of a future state of reward and punishment, it is only this, that the Christian Doctrine was revealed; the other, a conclusion of natural reason. Now if the Jews had this Doctrine, they must needs have it, as revealed ; consequently the same with the Christian. 2. That though I myself suppose the natural and the Christian Doctrine of a future state of reward and punishment to be very different things; yet I shall shew, in due time, that if Moses were indeed God's Messenger, and would teach a future state, it could be no other than the Christian Doctrine of it.. But as those, I have to do with, may be ready to tell me, that this due time, like that of the Jews' Messiah, is either past or will never come, they will, I suppose, readily bear with me while I anticipate the subject, and in a very few words prove what is here asserted. Revelation teacheth that mankind lost the free gift of immortal life by the transgression of Adam ; and, from thence became mortal, and their existence confined to this life. Revelation likewise teacheth that the MEAN which Divine Wisdom thought fit to employ in restoring man from death to his first state of immortality, was the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. Hence it appears to be a thing impossible, that any Messenger from God, any Agent or Instrument made use of for conducting this grand Dispensation towards its completion, could (were
• Rom. viii. 21.
# For the further illustration of this matter, I would recommend to the Reader's serions perusal the first chapter of “ The free and candid Examidation of the Bishop of London's Principles."
it in his choice or in his office to promulgate the doctrine of a future State) speak of any other but that purchased by Christ, and promulged and proclaimed in the Gospel, since in fact, on the principles of Revelation, there is no other; and to inculcate another, would be impeaching the veracity of God, and the eternal stability of his councils.
To conclude, There is one thing which plainly evinceth that if the Jews had the knowledge or belief of a FUTURE STATE of reward and punishment, they must have had the knowledge of the REDEMPTION of man by the death and suffering of Jesus Christ, likewise. And it is this, That all the Sacrifices in the Jewish Ritual regarded only temporal things. A very competent judge in these matters assures us,—“Universa Judæorum simul congesta Sacrificia ad assequenda hujus vitæ commoda omnia facta erant." The
consequence is this, That if the Jewish religion taught its followers a future state of rewards and punishments, it either afforded them no means of attaining future happiness, or it instructed them in the doctrine of the Redemption. To say the first, contradicts the nature of all Religion ; to say the latter, makes the Jewish useless, and the Christian false, as contradicting its repeated declarations, that life and immortality, or the doctrine of the Redemption, was brought to light through the Gospel.
But what was asked by St. Paul's Adversaries, will perhaps be asked by mine, Is the Law then against the PROMISES of God ? does the Law, because it had no future state, contradict the GOSPEL, which hath? The Apostle's answer will serve me,—God forbid : For if there had been a Law which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the Law.t That is, if the genius of the Law had produced such a Dispensation as was proper to convey to mankind the free gift of life and immortality, this gift would have been conveyed by it. All this shews that the Law was not contrary to the Gospel, but only that it was not of sufficient excellence to be the vehicle of God's last best gift to mankind. And it shews too (and it is a very fit remark, as the result from the whole, with which to conclude this fifth Book) that a future state was not the Sanction of the Law of Moses, or, in the Apostle's more emphatic words, that the Law did not (because it could not) give life.
Thus, I presume, it is now proved beyond all reasonable question,
DID MAKE PART
FOUND IN, NOR OF, THE Mosaic DISPENSATION.
It will be asked then, “What were the real sentiments of these early Jews concerning the soul?” Though the question be a little out of time, yet as the answer is short, I shall give it here. They were doubtless the same with those of the rest of mankind, who have
• OUTRAM De Sacr. p. 305.
+ Gal. iji. 21.