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"it had not the very image of the things themselves;" which we must consider together, because they mutually illustrate each other.
$3. (I.) "For the law having a shadow," &c. These expressions are metaphorical, and have therefore given occasion to various conjectures about the nature of the allusions, and their application to the present subject. Both what is called "a shadow." and "the very image," have respect to the "good things to come;" wherefore the true notion of what these "good things to come," are, will determine what it is to have a shadow of them," and "not the very image of the things themselves." The good things intended must be Christ himself, with all the grace, mercy, and privileges, which the church receiveth by his actual coming in the flesh, and the discharge of his office; for he himself, principally and evidently, was the subject of all promises; and whatever else is contained in them is but that whereof, in his person, office, and grace, he is the author and cause: hence he was signally termed (ó εpxoμevos) he who was to come; "art thou he cho is to come?" 1 John iv, 3. And these things are called (Ta ayaba) the good things-because they are absolutely so without any mixture. Nothing is good, either in itself, or unto us, but what is made so by Christ and his grace; they are the means of our deliverance from all the evil things which we had brought upon ourselves by our apostasy from God.
$4. These being evidently the "good things" intended, the relation of the law to them, that it had the shadow, but not the very image of them, will also be apparent. He declares his inter tion in another parallel place, where, speaking of the same things, and using some of the same words, their sense is plain and determined; Col. ii, 17, "They are a shadow of things to come, but the body is of Christ." For it is the
law, with its ordinances and institutions of worship, concerning which the apostle there discourseth. Now the "shadow" there intended, from whence the allusion is taken, is the shadow of a body in the light or sunshine, as the antithesis requires; "but the body is of Christ." Now such a shadow is a representation of the body; which follows it in all its variations, and is inseparable from it. It is a just representation of the body (if properly situated, and without any accidental hindrance) as to its proportion and dimensions, The shadow of any body represents that certain individual body, and nothing else. Yet it is but an obscure representation of the body; for the vigor and spirit (the chief excellencies of a living body) are not represented by it. Thus it is with the law, or the covenant of Sinai, and all the ordinances of worship wherewith it was attended, with respect to these good things to come. The opposition which the apostle here makes is not between the law and the gospel, but between the sacrifices of the law and the sacrifice of Christ himself; want of this observation hath given us mistaken interpretations of the place. The law (Exwv) having it; it was inlaid in it; it was of the substance and nature of it; it contained it in all that it prescribed or appointed; some of it in one part, some in another, the whole in the whole. It had the whole shadow, and the whole of it was this shadow; and because they are no more now a shadow of Christ and what belongs to him as absent, they are absolutely dead and useless.
$5. (II.) This being granted to the law, what is denied of it is added, in which consists the apostle's argument; it "had not the very image of the things;" the (πραγμαlα) things are the same with the (τα αγαθα pcλovla) good things to come before mentioned. The negation here is of the same subject as the concession
was before; the grant being in one sense and the denial in another. It had not (evlyν Tиy exova ipsissimum rerum imaginem) the very image itself; that is, it had not the things themselves; for he proves that the law, with all its sacrifices, could not take away sin, nor perfect the church, because it had not this image, or the things themselves; so the Syriac translation (ipsam rem, or ipsam substantiam) the substance itself, in which sense the Greek word (ewv) is frequently used in the New Testament; Rom. i, 23, The image of the man is the man himself.
This therefore is what the apostle denies concerning the law; it had not the actual accomplishment of the promise of good things; it had not Christ exhibited in the flesh; it had not the true real sacrifice of the perfect expiation. It represented these things, it was a shadow of them; but enjoyed not, exhibited not the things themselves. Hence was its imperfection and weakness, so that by none of its sacrifices could it make the church perfect.
§6. "Can never with these sacrifices, which they offer year by year continually, make the comers thereunto perfect;" (ES TO dinvexes, in perpetuum) continually, or for ever, that is, while those ordinances of worship were in force.
But neither the proper signification of the word, nor the use of it in this epistle, will allow it in this place to belong to the sentence going before. It is of the same signification with (ç To Tavleλes, chap. vii, 25,) for ever, to the uttermost, perfectly. What is affirmed of Christ and his sacrifice, ver. 12, 14, of this chapter, is here denied of the law; the words therefore should be joined with those that follow; "the law by its sacrifices could not perfect for ever, or to the utmost, the comers thereunto."
§7. The words being thus read, the impotency of the law is very emphatically expressed (serole Suvalai) it can never do it, by no means, no way; it is impossible it should; which obviates all thoughts of perfection by the law. (Tais aulais volais, 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 (naï εviavlov) 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, he fixeth on those sacrifices which had the least imperfection; for these sacrifices were repeated 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. (Tɛhɛiwoni) to dedicate, consummate, consecrate, perfect, sanctify; see Expos. on chap. vii, ver. 11, here the word is the same with (τελειωσαι καlα 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 προσερχόμενος, 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, "which 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 (eiç to dinvenes) 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 (ES TO SINVEXEs) 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.
$9. (III) From the whole verse sundry things may be observed,