Page images

members are visible and external ; and cumcision outwardly in the flesh, and a cirthere is an invisible church, which is con- cumcision inwardly in the Spirit. stituted of invisible and internal members; XIll. The scal of circumcision, as it but as to the formal cause and reason of did hold forth and confirm the truth of their being such, viz. faith in Jesus Christ, God's promises, upon his part, unto the it is not very obvious to all, for here we worthy receivers; so, upon the part of read of some that are Jews outwardly, such as were circumciled, it held forth and some such inwardly.

their engagement to cast off sin and corX. Tho' it be no small privilege to be ruption, and every evil way, that their externally within the houte' of God; yet louis might be pure unto the Lord; for it is not enough for a man to be a consti- this is the circumcision of the heart, and in tuant member of the visible church ; but the spirit. before he expect to be approven of God, Xiv. It is a great folly for any to think he must be a member of the invisible it enough that they have participated of church: for it is he who is a Jew inward- the facraments, seeing many may have rely, whose praise is not of men but of God.. ceived the external part of the facrament

XI. Whoever they be who by faith have who are utter strangers into the inward fed into Chriit, and become living mem- part thereof; for circumcision in the flesh bers of his mystical body, however they may be where circumcifion in the spirit is be in small account with the men of this world ; yet they are in high estimation XV. Whoever would expect salvation, with God, for though their praise be not should not settle on the external and literal of men, yet it is of God.

part of the facraments, but should endeaXII. In every facrament, as there is an vour after the spirirual part thereof, and exrernal symbol representing, so, there is that which is in the heart ; for that is onfoine inward grace represented, partly as ly circumcifion worth the name, which is to be given to us of God, and partly, as inward in the heart, and in the spirit. to be exercised by us : for there is a cire




Verses 1. 2. What advantage then hath the Jew ? or what profit is there of cir

cumcision? Much every way: chiefly, because unto them were committed the oracles of God.

EFORE the apostle go on in his objections which he saw might arise from

intended purpose, viz. to prove what he had said last, in putting them in that the Jews, no less than the Gen- the fame condition and

the same condition and category with the tiles, may rather expect to be condenned Gentiles, and that notwithstanding of all than justified by the works of the law, those things they boasted of, and particu, which he began to do chap'er ii. 17. that larly circumcision, which they accounted he might thereby prove his main thesis, highly of. viz. That by the works of the law no man Now, from what he had said, in the Mball be jujiified; he firšt removeth fome end of the last chapter, they might ga


ther, that the apostle was not only inju- | and the covenant, which were fpecial and rious to them in so doing, but also unto saving oracles, spoken and delivered by God, who had put some special mark of the Lord's own mouth, were concredi: ed respect, in many particulars, (as no body to them; the tables, and instruments of could deny) upon the Jews, which he had the covenant, the law and the prophers, not done unto the Gentiles; and especial- and all the promises, were confered on ly had given them circumcision, a seal of them, and they honoured so far as to be the covenant, which the Gentiles were intrusted with them, and made treasurers ftrangers unto : How is it then, might (as it were) of this excellent treasure : they say, that the apostle putreth no dif- These instruments, deeds, and evidences of ference berwixt us and the Gentiles, and the covenant, contained in the writings of layeth aside circumcision, as a matter of no Mofes and the prophets, which are called. Worth or moment? The objection is pro- lively oracles, A&ts vii. 38. were intrusted : posed by way of question, as an inference unto the Jews to keep, for their own and from the apostle's former doctrine ; What others benefit; as Sieven says, I hey receivadvantage then hath the Jew? What pri ed the lively oracles to give unto us: and vilege or prerogative, or what more lu this was a great piece of respect put upon perabundance harh the Jew than the Gen- them, to be keepers of such registers, tile? And then again, because he seemed which, was not put upon others, Pfal.. to put a finall price upon circumcision, cxlvii. 19. 20. which they gloried much of, he faith again, (as if he were speaking in their

HENCE OBSERVE, Lane) or what profit is there of circum 1. As it is a matter of very great difficifron? To which last the apostle answer-culty, for such as God hath blessed with eth not now, partly because he had said external favours and privileges, and so formerly, that circumcifion profiteth if thou honoured thereby beyond others, to put keep the law; and partly because he speaks these privileges in a right fubordination, of it at more length, in the following and not to lay too much stress upon them; chapter.

so it is as difficult io get them brought to And as to the first objection, he an a putting them in their due place, when fwereth, verse 2d; and then, to verse. ioth, they have once conceived amiss of them; he answereth other objections: after which as we are taught by Paul's insisting so long Le followeth his former purpose, and shew on this matter, and proposing all their esh from fcripture, how the Jews, no lefs objections, to the end he may answer them, tan the Gentiles, can expect nothing but and fo clear their mifapprehensions conwrath for their guilt, and so cannot look cerning their being a visible church in cofor justification by the works of the law, venant with God, enjoying his ordinanod this unto verfe 2oth; and then unto ces, whereby they are differenced from de end, he concludes and prosecuteth that others : for here the apostle begineth truth, that by the deeds of the law there with a new objection.. ball no flesh be jujtified in his fight.

II. Carnal men, that have trusted to Voto the first objection he answereth, wrong grounds, and had misapprehensions That the Jews have far more privi- of their external enjoyments and privikges than the Gentiles; and tho' there leges, which, as external church members, Tere no more to be found, this were a they have been par akers of, if so be they privilege great enough, and a chief one cannot be permited to enjoy their 10, chiefly, because that unto them were conceits and apprehensions, but are put emitted the oracles of God; that the law from fondly doting upon these as their

Christ and Mediator, then are they ready , and privileges which a visible church ento conceive that they serve for no use nor joy, to have the oracles of God, the word benefit at all; if they cannnot get a Savi. of the great God, the law and the coveour made of their external privileges, they nant, the instruments and evidences of that think them altogether useless and fruitless; covenant among their hands, however maif their church membership be not enough ny think little of such advantages; for to carry them to heaven, they know not this was the chief advantage of the Jews, what it serves for: If the sacraments have chiefly, because unto them were commited the rot Christ's room with them, they are oracies of God. ready to look upon them as altogether VI. God's word, and every truth that useless; as is clear from this objection a- is held forth therein, of whatsoever nature, rising upon the back of what the apostle Thould have great weight with us, and be was saying in the end of the former chap-received with great reverence, fear, and ter, H bat advantage then hath the Jeru? love, as having on it an impreilion of maand what profit is there of circumcision ? as jesty, and should be believed as undoubled if they thought, since they be nothing the truth: for bere it is called the oracles of better, as to justification, of their being God, and in Heb. v. 12. externally in covenant with God, and cir- VII. It is the duty of the church of cumcised, they were nothing the better of God to be careful to preserve these instruthem at all.

ments and evidences of the covenant, there, III. As wicked men will be still cavil. oracles of God whole and entire, and to ing and carping against the truth, not- see that they be not falfified, nor wrongwithstanding of clear demonstrations; and, ed in any manner, but that they transmit when they can do no more, will be ready them to posterity safe and found; seeing 10 asperse the doétrine of truth with foul the Lord hach intrusted her therewith, she inferences and deductions, and labour to ought not to betray her trust : thus the bind them upon the maintainers of truth; church of the Jews is said to be concreditso it is the duty of all afferiers of truth ed with these oracles; the Lord made them to guard against all such false and foul con- his record-keepers. clusions : for, as the apo tle saw that what he had said would not satisfy, but they VERSES 3. 4. For what if some did not would imagine some absurdity to follow, so believe? shall their unbelief make the he replich to all such objections.

faith of God without effeil? IV. Howbeit to be externally in cove- God forbid: yea, let God he true, but evenant with God, and members of his vili

ry man a liar; as it is woritten, That ble church, will not prore a sufficient thcu mightst be justified in thy sayings, ground for men to reit on (if they seek for and mightst overcome when thou art no more) for justification and falvation; judged. yet fuch, even upon that score, have excellency beyond others, and have many UT

for all this, yea, and might seem to out the church have not: for to this ques. be the more confirmed in the truth, of Lion, What advantage, or superabundant their former inference and deduction by excellency, hath the Jew? the apostle an- this that the apostle was saying; and thereswereth, Much every tray. See Deut. iv. fore he labours to clear and confirm every 7. Rom. ix. 4.

thing he says, that no fcruple or doubt V. It is a main and choice advantage, might, if posible, be left with them. Now yea, the foundation of all other adyantages they might object; You say, that the o


benefits and advantages that others with B'T yet they might remain unsatisfied

racles of God, the testament and the inftru- ever to think of such an absurd thing. ments of the covenant, were laid up with | zdly, It cannot be, that because wicked them, and they honoured with this pri- men, through their own unbelief, have vilege; and that they had this great ad prejudged themselves of the good things vantage : but whai honour is that privi. promised, that therefore God thall be unleze to them, and what profit have they true; for God is still true, he still keeps by that advantage now, when they are his promise, and stands to his word; he in no better cafe than the Gentiles; are abhoreth lying, and is the author of all made finners no less than they? Yea, how truth in the creatures; His truth is urto can it be that they could have been so ho the clouds, Psal. Ixvii. 10. he will not suffer noured, seeing there were many of the peo- his faithfulness to fail

, Pfal. Ixxxix. 33. ple unbelievers, and did not give credit Therefore says he, Let God be true; let unto

, cor esteemed rightly of, but abused, God, who is truth, and loveth truth, be thele oracles of God? And doth not all acknowledged and confessed to be true, in this rather say, that God took away what maintaining his covenant, and fulfiling his orce he had bestowed, and so hath failed promises. And this he farther illustrateth in his promises ; and his covenant is made by adding, but every man a liar. Every roid, and of none elect, and so God is inan, considered in himself as corrupted made to change? This is the objection by nature, is unconstant, perfidious in his Unto which the apostle giveth these an- covenants, and a lover of lies, and not of (wers : Firjt, Such an absurdity will no truth, Pfal. cxvi. 11. 3dly, This is again way follow, that because some (he might confirmed by scripture; where the apostle have said many, yea, the most part; but is citing the words of David, Pial. li. 4. he would not, left he should have irritated and therein following the version of the them whom he knew to have been much Seventy, who put that thou mightít overdispleased with him already,) believed not, come, for that thou might be clear, or but rebelled, and apostatized from God, pure; and therein rendering the word as and so, thro' their own folly, lost the be it fignifieth in the Syriac idiom; and yet Defit of the oracles of the covenant, and some think the word inay bear both: howof the promises, that therefore God hath ever the sense will be the same, for who falfified his faith, and hath failed in his is declared pure, and just in judgment, may promises, and so is changed: And that be faid to overcome his enemy,) who, afbecause, 1/1, This apostary, unbelief and ter Nathan came to him, fell to au ample unfaithfulness, was not universal; it was confeffion of his heinous iniquity, that but some, (though many, yet) not all, that Gud might get ail the glory, in his righdid not believe: and it will not follow, that renurness and faithfulness, both in his God's promises made to a nation, should justice in threatening such sore judgments, fi because of the unbelief of a part and in his inercy in keeping his promises, feeing the faithfulness of God, and ot hi both general and particular, noi withstandpromises and covenants, is still verified, and ing of bis heinous transgression ; hereby performed to his elect, in whose behalt God's justice and faithfulness, withal, was mey were made: and therefore fays he, he more discovered, and conspicuous, so For what if (or what shall I say, though) | far was God fi om being liable to be charged

e did not believe? hall their unbelief with failing in his proiniles, noswithstandmake the faith (or the faithful promile | ing of his finfulness. We may take his and covenant) of God of none effect? (void proof thus : Man's unbelief and fwfulness

God forbid: Let never such a | is so far from making void and null God's Ling be once heard of; far be it from us I promises, that the rather ihereby is ccca

and null.)

fion administred for God to get the great- / good in his eyes, unto a people; to bestow er glory, as of his justice in punishing upon them what excellencies and privileges according to equity, so of his faithfulness he pleaseth, and how long he shall think in keeping covenant notwithstanding; as good; yet ordinarily where God fetteth we see in his own sometimes, who thro' up a church and his ordinances, and beweakness bewray their own unfaithfulness, stowerh upon them fair advantages, his yet God keeps his promise ; yea, thereby oracles, his covenant, and promises, he takes occasion the more to illustrate his doth not remove thence, but when his faithfulness and constancy; as in David's goodness is abused, his ordinances vilipendcase is clear, who says, that thou mayst ed, his excellent favours fighted, and his be justified'in thy Speeches; that is, declared oracles and words misbelieved and difreand made known to be faithful in all thy garded : for whatever change of dispensapromises, and in all thy words, or when tion came upon the church of the Jews, thou speakeft: and overcome when thou art we see there was before, a misbelieving judged ; that is, found clear, and without and rebelling in some, there were some spot; pure without any crimination, so as that brake covenant with God, became perall mouths may be stoped, when thou shalt fidious, and became apostates and infidels; judge, or when thou shalt be judged; (the what if some did not believe, nor keep coGreek will import both, tho' the Hebrew venant, but fell away and apostatized: See word be rather active than passive) that is, Rev. ii. 5. 2 Chron. xxxvi. 15. 16. when thou shalt punish the wicked accord- III. Whatever prejudice rebellious milin to their deserts, or keepest truth in thy believers do themselves, in not making use promises; for this is an act of justice and by faith of the promises of God, and of righteousness in God, Ptal.cxliii. 11. 1 John the covenant, frustrating themselves of all i. I. or if it be taken passively, the mean- the good contained in the holy oracles of ing is this, when men consider thy doings, God, by their incredulity and perfidiousand pass their judgment on thy faithful- ness; yet that will not stop the conduit, refs: both cometh to one.

nor obstruct the flowing down of the good

things, wraped up in the precious promises, HENCE OBSERVE,

unto the faichful covenant-keepers: God's I. However God hath not tied himself punishing and pursuing rebels with venabsolutely to continue his privileges and dig- geance for their rebellion, with the one niries, wherewith he honoureth a people, hand, will not hinder him to make effecwith them for ever, but is free to go when tual what he hath promised unto faithful, he is provoked, and pleaseth, notwith honest believers, whom he hath chosen, standing of his promises, which are but with the other hand : and therefore says conditional; yet' such is the folly and ig- Paul, fall the unbelief of fonie make the norance of men, as to interpret that change faith of God of none effect? Which interof bis dispensations, which he, for wife rogation hath the force of a strong negaand holy ends, maketh, to be a coming tion. short of his promises, as if he were not IV. However matters go, in the Lord's able to accomplish what was promised, and wife dispensations, and bowls roll, believers a change in him who is truth and unchange- ought to be perfuaded, and rest confidence able : for thus in this objection were they of the truth of God's promises made in infering, that God's truth and faithfulness them, seeing God's faithfulness is engaged was evanished.

and he can no more deny the performanc II. However God be a free agent, and of the special promises made unto his own Siath liberty to go and come, as seemeth than he can deny himself, or his own faith


« PreviousContinue »