Page images

$7. The words being thus read, the impotency of the law is very emphatically expressed (εδεποτε δυναται) it can never do it, by no means, no way; it is impossible it should; which obviates all thoughts of perfection by the law. (Tæis eulis duoleis, iisdem sacrificus; iis ipsis hostiis, or sacrificiis) with those same sacrifices; the same, of the same kind, for they could not by the law offer a sacrifice of one kind one year, and a sacrifice of another the next. But the same sacrifices, as to their kind, their matter, and manner, were annually repeated without alteration. And this is urged to shew, that there was no more in any one of them than in another; and what one could not do, could not be done by its repetition, for it was still the same (nce? Eviculou) yearly, year by year. It is hence manifest, that he principally intends the anniversary sacrifices of expiation; when the high priest entered into the most holy place with blood, Lev. xvi; had he mentioned sacrifices in general, it might have been replied, that although such as were daily offered, or those on special occasions, might not perfect the worshippers, at least not the whole congregation; yet the church might by that great sacrifice which was offered yearly; accordingly the Jews have a saying, that on the day of expiation all “Israel was made as righteous as in the day wherein man was first created.” But the apostle applying his argument to those very sacrifices leaves no reserve; and besides, to give the greater cogency to his argument, be fixeth on those sacrifices which had the least imperfection; for these sacrifices were repeatre only once a year; and if this repetition of them once a year proves them weak and imperfect, how much more were those so, which were repeated every day? “Which they offer;" he states what was done at the first giving of the law, as if it were now present before their eyes. And if it had not the power mentioned at their first institution, when the law was in all its vigor and glory, no accession could be made to it by any continuance of time, except in the false imagination of the people. It could not make the comers thereto perfect for ever.

$8. (T£deiwowe) to dedicate, consummate, consecrate, perfect, sanctify; see Expos. on chap. vii, ver. 11, here the word is the same with (τελειωσαι καλα συνειδησιν, chap. ix, 9.) “perfect as pertaining to the conscience,” which is ascribed to the sacrifice of Christ, ver. 4. Wherefore it here respects the expiation of sin, and so the apostle expounds it in the following verses; (τες προσερχομενες, accedentes) the comers thereunto, say we; that is, the worshippers, see ver. 2, and chap. ix, 9, those who approach to him by sacrifices, particularly the anniversary sacrifice which was provided for all.

But as the priests were included in the foregoing words, “ohich they offer;" so by these comers, the people are intended, for whose benefit the sacrifices were offered; and these, if any, might be made perfect by the sacrifices of the law, but it could not effect it (EIS TO Siyvenes) absolutely, completely, and for ever; it made an expiation, but it was temporary only, not for ever, both in respect of the consciences of the worshippers, and the outward effects of its sacrifices.

However, if any shall think meet to retain the ordinary distinction of the words, taking the phrase (ELS TO Sigvex€5) adverbially, they offered year by year continually, then the necessity of the annual repetition of those sacrifices is intended. This they did, and this they were to do always whilst the tabernacle was standing, or the worship of the law continued.

89. (III.) From the whole verse sundry things may be observed,

[ocr errors]

1. Whatever there may be in any religious institutions, and the diligent observance of them, if they come short of exhibiting Christ himself to believers, with the benefits of his mediation, they cannot make us perfect, norgive us acceptance with God.

2. Whatever hath the least representation of Christ, or relation to him, whilst in force, hath a glory in it; the law had but a shadow of him and his office; yet was the ministration of it glorious, and much more will that of the gospel and its ordinances appear glorious, if we have but faith to discern their relation to him, and his exhibition of himself and benefits to us by them.

3. Christ and his grace were the only good things, that were absolutely so, from the foundation of the world, or the giving of the first promise. Those who put such a valuation on the meaner uncertain enjoyments of other things, as to judge them their good things,” their goods, as they are commonly called; and see not that all which is absolutely good is to be found in him alone; (much more they who see to judge almost all things good besides, and Christ with his grace "good for nothing,") will be filled with the fruit of their own ways, when it is too late to change their minds.

4. There is a great difference between the shadow of good things to come, and the good things actually exhibited and granted to the church. This is the fundamental difference between the two testaments, the law and the gospel. He who sees not, who finds not a glory, excellency, and satisfaction, producing peace, rest, and joy, in the actual exhibition of these good things, as declared and tendered in the gospel, above what might be attained from the ancient cbscure representation of them, is a stranger to gospel light and grace.

5. The principal interest and design of them who come to God, is to have assured evidence of the perfect expiation of sin.

6. What cannot be effected for the expiation of sin at once, by any duty or sacrifice, cannot be effected by its reiteration; those who generally seek for atonement and acceptance with God, by their own duties, quickly find that no one of them will effect their desire; wherefore they place all their confidence in the repetition and multiplication of them; what is not done at one time, they hope may be done at another: what one will not do, many shall; but after all they find themselves mistaken. For,

7. The repetition of the same sacrifices doth of itself demonstrate their insufficiency for that end; wherefore those of the Roman Church, who would give countenance to the sacrifice of the mass, by affirming that it is not another sacrifice, but the very same that Christ himself offered, effectually prove, if the apostle's argument here insisted be good and cogent, an insufficiency in the sacrifice of Christ for the expiation of sin.

VERSE 2. For then would they not have ceased to be offered, because that

the worshippers once purged should have had no science of sins.



$1. The nature of the present argument. $2. An objection answered. $3--5.

(1.) The words farther explained. %6--7. (II.) Observations.

şi. The words contain a confirmation by a new argument of what was affirmed in the verse foregoing taken from the frequent repetitions of those sacrifices. The thing to be proved is the “insufficiency of the law to perfect the worshippers by its sacrifices," and the present argument is taken (ab effectu, or a signo)

from the effect, or a demonstrative sign of the insufficiency which he had before asserted. There is a variety in the original copies, some having the negative particle (84) others omitting it; if that negation be allowed, the words are to be read by way of interrogation; "would they not have ceased to be offered?” that is, they would; if it be omitted, the assertion is positive; “they would then have ceased to be offered;" there was no reason for their continuance, nor would God have appointed it; and the notes of the inference (Etelav) for then, are applicable to either reading.

$2. In opposition to this argument in general it may be said, that this reiteration was not because they did not perfectly expiate the sins of the offerer, but because those for whom they were offered did again contract the guilt of sin, and so stood in need of a renewed expiation of them.

In answer to this objection which may be laid against the foundation of the apostle's argument, I say, there are two things in the expiation of sin. First, the effects of the sacrifice towards God in making atonement; secondly, the application of those effects to our consciences. The apostle treats not of the latter which may be frequently repeated; for of this na. ture are the ordinances of the gospel, and our own faith and repentance; for a renewed participation of the thing signified, is the only use of the frequent repetition of the sign. So, renewed acts of faith and repentance are continually necessary upon the incursions of the new acts of sin and defilements; but by none of these is there any atonement made for sin; the one great sacrifice of atonement is applied to us, but is not to be repeated by us.

Supposing therefore the end of sacrifices to be making atonement with God for sin, and the procuring of



« PreviousContinue »