« PreviousContinue »
was before; the grant being in one sense and the denial in another. It had not (aulyv TYN elnovæ ipsissimam 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 itşelf, in which sense the Greek word (elaww) 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;” (ElS TO doyvenes, 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 (EIG TO Tavlemesi 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 sacrifiçes could not perfect for ever, or to the utmost, the comers thereunto.”
87. The words being thus read, the impot ency 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. (Tuis aureis duolas, 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 (ucí evi&ulov) 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. (Tenewout) 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 comer's 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 (Elç To diyvenes) 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 (E1S to diyverks) 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,
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, nor give 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 glori
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 obscure 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 repetitior 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.
N1. The nature of the present argument. 32. 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)