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triarchs. “ The LORD our God made a covenant “ with us in Horeb ; the Lord made not this co“ venant with our fathers, but with us r.?? Is it likely that such language would have been used, had the difference consisted merely in form?
2. The law is spoken of as added, for a fpecial reason, and for a certain time, to the covenant made with Abraham; and therefore as fome. thing different in its nature. It is even described by the apostle, as possessing such characters that men might be apt to view it as “ against the co“ venant," and as tending to “ difannul” it. While he teaches that the law was given in subserviency to the covenant of grace, he admits that it was so different, that it could not give life, because this comes only by a free and gracious promises. Now, if the law or Sinaitic covenant included the covenant of grace as its principal substance, only under a darker form ; how is the law contrasted with the promise ? how could Paul say, “ If the inheritance be of the law, it is no * more of promise ?"
3. These two are pointed out, not merely as different dispensations, but as different covenants : “ Behold, the days.come, faith the LORD, that I “ will make a new covenant with the house of « Israel, and with the house of Judah, not acO cording to the covenant that I made with " their fathers, in the day that I took them by
" the # Deut. 8.22 s Gal, ü. 17.-21.
“ the hand, to bring them out of the land of Egypt, “ (which my covenant they brake, although I “ was an husband unto them, faith the LORD) 1." The same contrast is stated in the account given of the allegorical meaning of the history of Sarah and Hagar; “ These are the two covenants.” The covenant of grace is not here contrasted with that of works made with Adam, but with that peculiar covenant made with Ifrael at Sinai :“ The one from the Mount Sinai, - which is “ Agar u."
4. The superior excellency of the ministry of Christ is proved from his being “ the Mediator “ of a better covenant; of the new covenant v." This covenant is expressly said to be better, as being “ established upon better promises.” Now, if there be a difference as to the promise, there must be a difference between the covenants to which they respectively refer : because the promise is to be viewed as an essential part of a covenant. The promises, on which the covenant at Sinai was established, although figurative of better blessings, in themselves respected those that were temporal. They immediately referred to the possession of the land of Canaan, to victory over external enemies, to abundance of earthly good things, to long life and prosperity in the course of obedience. These promises were also conditional. Their fulfilment was suspended on the obedience of the covenant people. “ If ye
“ will i Jer. xxxi. 31, 32. u Gal. iv. 24.: v Heb. vii. 6., xii. 18. 24.
56 will obey my voice indeed, and keep my cove“ nant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto “ me above all people w.” This is the general strain of the promises made in this covenant. Even that promise respecting God's relation to them, is conditionally expressed : “ If ye walk in “ my statutes, and keep my commandments, and “ do them; I will walk among you, and will be “ your God, and ye shall be my people." But the promises of the new covenant, as they are fpiritual, are absolutely free. Their spirituality appears from the summary given of them, Heb. viii. 10.-12. especially as including the writing of the law, not on tables of stone as formerly, but on the fleshly tables of the heart, and the great blessing of pardon, not as consisting in the removal of external and ritual guilt, or deliverance from the punishment connected with it, but in a complete deliverance from condemnation. All these promises are expressed absolutely, so that their fulfilment depends not on any thing to be done by us. On the contrary, they secure strength for the performance of duty.
5. The Sinaitic covenant tended to produce a servile spirit. “ The one from the Mount Sinai “-gendereth to bondage y.” It has been observed, that the apostle does not here fpeak of the abule of that covenant, as indeed it was greatly abused by the generality of the Israelites, as if it VOL. I. . 2
had w Exod. xix, 5. Lev. xxvi. 3.--12.. y Gal. iv. 24.
had been meant to ensure eternal life, on the ground of their obedience ; but of its native ten. dency, which was to produce a servile frame of fpirit, entirely different from that which is the fruit of the covenant of promise.
: 6. This was a covenant that might be broken.
• They continued not in my covenant, and I re« garded them not, faith the Lord a.” This language has no respect to the change of dispensation. It denotes, that such was the frame of that covenant, that God might be provoked by the transgressions of the Ifraelites, to cast them out of it. This was actually done with respect to the ten tribes. Now, the covenant was thus broken, and those who were once within it, were cast off by God, many centuries before there was any change of the dispensation.
7. When the Israelites, in different instances, obtained the forgiveness of their breach of covenant, it was not in consequence of any mercy reserved for them in the transaction at Sinai, but by a gracious recurrence, on the part of their offended Lawgiver, to the covenant which he made with their fathers. On this ground alone does he promise to visit them in the day of their calamity “ If they shall confess their ini. $ quity,-then will I remember my covenant “ with Jacob, and also my covenant with Isaac, “ and also my covenant with Abraham will I
“ remember, Heb. viii. 9.
o remember, and I will remember the land b." Moses, in his interceffion for the Israelites, when they had greatly provoked God by worshipping the golden calf, does not ground his plea on the covenant recently made with them at Mount Sinai, but on that with their ancestors : “ Turn," he fays, “ from thy fierce wrath, and repent of “ this evil against thy people. Remember Abra“ hàm, Isaac, and Israel thy servants, to whom “ thou swarest by thine own self, and faidit unto " them, I will multiply your feed as the stars of * heaven, and all this land that I have spoken of “ will I give unto your feed, and they fall in* herit it for ever.” And God's respect to this covenant is given as the reason of all that longsuffering which he exercised towards Ifrael, amidst their aggravated iniquities : “ The LORD “ was gracious unto them, and had compassion “ on them, and had respect unto them, because " of his covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Ja“ cob, and would not destroy them, neither cast “ he them from his presence as yet d.”
It must be remembered, however, that this, which is called the old covenant, was not given to Ifrael as a covenant of works, promifing eternal life for their obedience. As to their external ftate, they were previously under the covenant of grace. Even the Sinaitic covenant contained a typical revelation of redeeming mercy, a thing totally unknown to the covenant of works. Had this been its nature, there could have been no
salvation b Ley, xxvi. 40.--42. c Exod. xxxii, 12, 13. d 2 Kings xiii. 23.