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to the work, to say it is finished, and procure true rest to the souls of his people, Mat. xi. 28.
XIII. The third blessing of the Old Testament, is the familiar and clear demonstration or display of the divine majesty: such as was made in the appearances of angels, when they declared the will of God; nay, and of God himself, when he presented himself to the view of the patriarchs and prophets under a visible appearance.
But that glorious epiphany or manifestation of God before the affembly of the whole people, when he came to give his law, and to establish his covenant, is of all others the most remarkable. This prerogative of Israel was indeed so great, that no people on earth ever enjoyed any thing like it, Deut. iv. 32, 33. “ For ask now of the days that are past, which were before thee, since the day that God created man upon the earth, and ask from the one side of heaven unto the other, whether has been any such thing, as this great thing is, or hath been heard like it? Did ever people hear the voice of God speaking out of the midst of the fire, as thou haft heard, and live ?” There were likewise the conspicuous symbols of the divine presence in the pillar of cloud and fire, in the sacred and heavenly fire, in the cloud of the fanctuary, and many other things of a similar nature: wherefore God is said, “ to have had his fire in Zion and his furnace in Jerusalem,” Ifa. xxxi. 9.
Which visible fymbols of the divine familiarity gradually ceased upon the manifestation of Christ in the flesh, of which they were appointed to be types and figures.
XIV. The fourth blessing of the Old Testament consisted in the ceremonies and in the daily use of them. I own, that, in a certain respect, the ceremonies were à grievous yoke, and belonged to the faults or defects of that testament: but there was likewise a remarkable representation of Christ in them, and of the grace that was to be obtained by him. And because God was pleased in those times to fet his mysteries before them in riddles, parables and figures; it was the extrarordinary happiness of Israel, that they had continually before their eyes these pictures of the divine goodness, and of a Saviour to come, while other nations were left to themselves. And the rather, as the elect were instructed by the patriarchs, and the prophets, and by those, who had been taught by them, in their mystical signification, according to the measure of those times. And in them they had not only a prefiguration, but also a confirming seal of the coming of the Messiah, to whom they all led as by the hand, and without whom they had been a ludicrous farce, and unworthy of God, 1 Pet. i. 10-12.
XV. And for this reason it is, that the scripture so often
mentions this thing, as a great blessing granted to the Ifraelites. Pfal. cxlvii. 19, 20. “ He shewed his word unto Jacob, his statutes and his judgments unto Israel: he hath not dealt so with any nation,” Isa. xlii. 21. “ Jehovah is well pleased for his righteousness' fake,” that is, for his truth and goodness, he will magnify (him by) the law and make it (him) honourable : Hof. viii. 12. I have written to him the great things of my law. Which is not only, nay I may venture to say, not principally, to be understood of the moral, or even the forensick or judicial law; but chiefly, of the doctrine of grace, which was prefigured by the ceremonial law. For, the principles of the moral law, implanted in man at his creation, still remain in the conscience of men, though no new revelation had been superadded : and for the safety of bodies politic, many things have been happily devised by wise men. But as to the mysteries of the ceremonial law, these were the peculiar privilege of the people of God; and, on account of them, the Israelites looked on themselves as having the pre-eminence above all other nations.
XVI. For the same reason, the godly afsifted at those ceremonies with so much delight and chearfulness of soul, and on the contrary accounted it the greatest part of their unhappiness, if at any time they were banished from their country, and forced to live at a distance from these holy things for it was their continual prayer, that they might be allowed to live in the house of God for ever: See Psal. xxiii. 6. Psal. xxvii. 4. Psal. xlii. 2, 5. Psal. Ixxxiv. 2, 3. Psal. lxxxix. 15. :As without all doubt, they learned from these ceremonies, their unclearness and guilt, which tended to the faving humiliation of their soul; fo in them also they beheld the expiation of guilt and the sanctification from fin, the abfolution or purging of the conscience. True that was only typical by the ceremonies, but it was true and fpiritual through him, who was prefigured by them.
XVII. Which things being so, those persons seem too much to depreciate those falutary institutions of God, who scarcely ever consider them; but as an unsupportable burden, and a handwriting contrary to those who observed them, and as the penalty of breach of covenant; and infift, that what God declares Ezek. xx. 25. is to be applied to them, namely, that he gave Ifrael statutes that were not good, and judgemts whereby they ihould not live. But the celebrated Dr John a Marck, who was formerly my intimate colleague, has vindicated this passage in such a manner, as entirely to supersede any defence of mine. We acknowledge, that there was something in the ceremonies, which was both grievous, and testified their imperfection, and that the expiation of fin was not yet perfected; but of these things we fhall speak in their place. But at the same time, we infift, that
they had a reference to the gospel, and were a picture of Christ and his benefits, and seals of grace: neither are we to think, that they were effects of his wrath in such a manner against Ifrael, as if they were not given as tokens of a singular favour to that people. The Jews themselves really were, and at this day are still fenfible of this; for though they acknowledge, they cannot find out the reason for these ceremonies, yet they affirm, that a more secret wisdom is contained in them, than they can perceive. To this purpose Abarbanel in Legem. Fol. 197. col. 2. writes concerning them: “ Lo! the principal intention in them, is to be as a book of sublime wisdom and divine doctrine, which students in the law may contemplate, till they perfect their souls by those apprehensions and notions.”
XVIII. The fifth and last blessing of the Old Testament is an almost uninterrupted succesion of inspired men, by whom the the church in those days instructed in all their doubts were without any hazard of being deceived. For, in the first ages, the patriarchs might be consulted, to whom God immediately revealed himself, and who in a state of such longevity, were generally many at a time, or at least were almost contemporary with one another. After them succeeded Mofes. He was followed by a long succession of prophets, even to the time of the Babylonish captivity, if we except some very few and short intervals, such as are mentioned, i Sam. iii. 1. and 2 Chron. xv. 3. Under the Babylonish captivity flourished Ezekiel and Daniel: after this last came Haggai, Zachariah and Malachi, not to say any thing now of Nehemiah and Ezra. And after the Holy Spirit ceased to dictate things to be written for the canon of the church of Israel, yet even to the coming of Christ, he ceased not to move, in an extraordinary manner, the minds of some by his divine inspiration, as is evident in Simeon, in Zachariah the father of John the Baptist, and in Anna the prophetess. But under the New Testament, after the canon of Scripture was completed by the apostolic writings, those prophetic enthusiasms or impulses gradually expired.
CH A P. XII.
Of the Imperfe&tions falsely ascribed to the Old Testament.
THAT the Old Testament required no deficency to be suppțied, appears
even from this, because otherwise a SI 2
place would not have been fought for a second : as the apostle, Heb. viii 7. proves to a demonstration. Having therefore treated of the blessings and privileges of that testament, it is proper,
that we now consider its imperfections and defects. Not that we would detract any thing from the divine grace, as it was displayed in the times of old, (because the ancient fathers both acknowleged and actually experienced, that it was sufficient for their salvation) but that we may set a higher value on the infinite riches of the divine bounty, which were reserved for the more auspicious age of the New Testament.
II. But in handling this, two prudential precautions are to be premised. ist, That, in order to overtalue our own condition, we do not too much undervalue that of the ancients. 2dly, That, by duly acknowledging our own privileges, less' than they deserve, we may be found unthankfully to undervalue the grace
of God. And because some have erred in both these extremes, we propose to manage this subject in the following method. In this chapter we shall confute what some persons, who in other respects are learned and orthodox, seem to have advanced with too little caution against the Old Testament: and then shew from scripture, in what things it was really defective.
III. We here pass over unregarded the heresy of the Socinians, who affert, with the utmost effrontery, that there was no promise of eternal life in the Old Testament ; that Jesus Christ was the first and only preacher of that important truth: a blafphemy we have already confuted. At present our business is with brethren, whom we esteem in the Lord; only we must always give the preference to the facred truth. It does not become us nor any Christian, to multiply disputes without cause and to wrest things, well or tolerably said, to a worse meaning than they will bear, and when we have wrested them, invidiously to expose them; a manner of procedure this not to be used with enemies, much less with brethren. It is, however, incumbent on all, to endeavour to speak with the utmost caution, and perfpicuity they are able; nor should any one take it amifs ; if things, which are fpoken improperly and harshly, and less consistently with the truth, are modestly, calmly, and without any party zeal, taken notice of and corrected: especially if they have escaped from persons of character in the church; and are urged by some with a warmth not to be commended, as if they excelled the common doctrine of the reformed churches by the commendation of a purer and more sublime knowledge: fo if any person that does not affent to them in
all respects, is scarce accounted a learned and unprejudiced divine.
IV. In the first place, I imagine, that these following words of a celebrated interpreter have justly given offence to learned men; “ the scope of these words is to Thew, that though very great temporal benefits were bestowed on the Israelites, yet before the last times, none that were true and permanent : nor was falvation itself actually discovered to them,” Coccei. Ult. Mof. p. 886.
V. Who that reads or hears these words, would not be led by their very found to imagine even this, that though the Ifraelites really enjoyed temporal privileges, such as possession of the land of Canaan, a peaceable government, a flourishing kingdom, prosperity as subjects, long life, and the like, yet they had no benefits, that were true and permanent: by which one can scarce forbear thinking, that they had no communion with the Messiah, nor part in his peculiar blessings, as reconciliation with God, peace of conscience, reformation after the image of the divine purity, foretastes of the joys of heaven, and a happy removal of the soul from this to an immortal life ? For, these, if any, are deservedly and usually called true and permanent benefits, and falvation itself. Whoever therefore affirms, that very great temporal privileges, and, in the same breath denies, that such as were true and permanent were bestowed on, and salvation itself disclosed to the Israelites, speaks in such a man. ner as to suggest to the mind of the reader, that the spiritual blessings of the soul, and eternal life were neither bestowed on, nor discovered to them.
VI. And it is also scarce possible for the reader not to be confirmed in that suspicion, if in another part he reads, that the only delight the Israelites had, was that they could extend their meditations to the felicity of the latter times, which yet they were not to see with their own eyes. But the same author's preface to the Psalms inculcates this in a set, premeditated discourse, not far from the begining. “ This, indeed, was their only solace; for, while they were singing most of the Psalms, they were, in the type of David, either singing before hand the afflictions and exaltation of Christ, or reaching forward to the latter times; and deploring their present forlorn case, were endeavouring to change it into the joy of the future time, nay, affuming the disposition, the joy, the zeal, and Maring in the combats and victories of those who were to see what themselves did not, to hear what themselves did not hear. This, I say, was their only comfort. For, neither what they saw çould yield them any delight ; because they were shadows ; nor what