« PreviousContinue »
Sun 7772, parabolical or mystical,' wherein their masters abound. We call them allegories: so doth our apostle expressly, Gal. iv. 21–26. Having declared how the two covenants, the legal and evangelical, were represented by the two wives of Abraham, Hagar and Sarah; and the two sorts of people, even those that sought for righteousness by the law, and believers, by their children, Ishmael and Isaac; he adds, that these things are an allegory. Chrysostom supposeth that Paul useth that expression of an allegory in a large sense, for any type or figure, seeing the things he mentioneth were express types the one of the other. But the truth is, he doth not call the things themselves an allegory, for they had a reality; the story of them was true, but the exposition and application which he makes of the Scripture in that place is allegorical; that is, what was spoken of one thing he expounds of another, because of their proportion one to another, or the similitude between them. Now this doth not arise hence, that the same place of Scripture, or the same words in any place, have a diverse sense, a literal sense and that which is mystical or allegorical; for the words which have not one determinate sense, have no sense at all. But the things mentioned in any place, holding a proportion unto other things, there being a likeness between them, the words whereby the one are expressed, are applied unto the other.
Now, in the using of these allegorical expositions or applications of things in one place unto another, sundry things arè wisely and diligently to be considered. As,
First, That there be a due proportion in general between the things that are one of them, as it were, substituted in the room of another. Forced strained allegories from the Scripture, are a great abuse of the word. We have had some who have wrested the Scripture unto monstrous allegories, corrupting the whole truth of the literal sense. This was the way of Origen of old, in many of his Expositions, and some of late have taken much liberty in the like proceeding. Take an instance in that of the prophet Hosea, si: 1. “ Out of Egypt have I called my son.” The words are directly spoken of the people of Israel, as the passage foregoing evinceth : “ When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt.” But these words are applied by the evangelist unto the Lord Christ, Matt. ii. 15. and that because of the just proportion that was between God's dealing with that people and with him, after he was carried into Egypt.
Secondly, That there be a designed signification in them; that is, although the words are first and principally spoken of one thing, yet the Holy Ghost intended to signity and teach that whereunto they are applied. An intention of the applica. tion is included in them. Thus, those words of the prophet, “ Out of Egypt have I called my son,” did first and properly express God's dealing with the people of Israel; but there was also an intention included in them of shadowing out bis future dealing with his only Son, Christ Jesus. The discovery hereof, is a matter of great skill and wisdom; and great sobriety is to be used in such applications and allusions.
Thirdly, That the first original sense of the words be sacredly observed. Some will not allow the words of Sripture their first natural sense, but pretend that their allegories are directly intended in them, which is to make their expositions poisonous and wicked.
I have added these things, because I find many very ready to allegorize upon the Scripture, without any due consideration of the analogy of faith, or the proportion of things compared one to another, or any regard to the first genuine sense of the words which they make use of. This is plainly to corrupt the word of God; and however they who make use of such perserted allusions of things may please the fancies of some persons, they render themselves contemptible to the judicious.
But in general these things are so. All things in the Old Testament, both what was spoken and what was done, have an especial intention towards the Lord Christ and the gospel; and therefore in several ways we may receive instruction from them. As their institutions are our instructions more than theirs, we see more of the mind of God in them than they did ; so their mercies are our encouragements, and their punishments our examples.
Ånd this proceedeth,
First, From the way that God, in infinite wisdom, had allotted unto the opening and unfolding of the mystery of his love, and the dispensation of the covenant of grace. The way we know whereby God was pleased to manifest the counsels of his will in this matter, was gradual. The principal degrees and steps of his procedure herein, we have declared on the first verse of this Epistle. The light of it still increased from its. dawning in the first promise, through all new revelations, prophecies, promises, institutions of worship, until the fulness of time came, and all things were completed in Christ. For God had from of old designed the perfection of all his works towards his church to be in him. In him, all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge were to be laid up, Col. ii. 3. and all things were to be gathered into an head in him, Eph. i. 10. Il him God designed to give out the express image of his wisdom, love and grace, yea of all the glorious properties of his nature. For as he is in himself, or his divine person, the image of the invisible God, Col. i. 15. the brightness of glory, and express. image of his Person, Heb. i. 2.; 60 he was to represent him
unto the church ; for we have the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, 2 Cor. iv. 6. In bim, that is his person, his office, his work, his church, God perfectly expressed the eternal idea of his mind, concerning the whole effect of his love and grace. From lience he copied out, in various parcels, by prophecies, promises, institutions of worship, actions, miracles, judgments, some partial and obscure representations of what should afterwards be accomplished in the person and kingdom of Christ. Hence these things became types ; that is, transcripts from the great idea in the mind of God about Christ and his church, to be at several seasons, in divers instances, accomplished among the people of old, to represent what was afterwards to be completed in him. This the apostle Peter declares fully, 1 Pet. i. 9-12. “ Receiving the end of your faith, the salvation of
souls. Of which salvation, the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you; searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us, they did minister the things which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel.” The prophets were those who revealed the mind and will of God to the church of old ; but the things which they declared, although they had a present use in the church, yet principally they respected the Lord Christ, and the things that afterwards were to come to pass. And herein were they instructed by that Spirit of Christ wherewith they were inspired, namely, that the things they declared, and so the whole work of their prophecy wherein they ministered, did principally belong to the times of the gospel. And therefore are they all for our instruction.
Secondly, This is part of that privilege which God had reserved for that church, which was to be planted and erected immediately by his Son. Having reckoned up the faith of the saints under the Old Testament, what it effected, and what they obtained thereby, the apostle adds, that yet “God had provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect,“ Heb. xi. 40. Neither themselves, nor any thing that befel them, was perfect without us. It had not in them its full end, nor its full use, being ordained in the counsel of God for our benefit. This privilege did God reserve for the church of the New Testament, that as it should enjoy that perfect revelation of his will in Christ, which the church of the Old Testament received not, so what was then revealed had not its perfect end and use, until it was brought over to this also.
See hence what use we are to make of the Scriptures of the
Old Testament. They are all ours, with all things contained in them. The sins of the people are recorded in them for our warning, their obedience for our example, and God's dealing with them on the account of the one and the other, for our direction and encouragement in believing. We are not to look on any parts of them barely as stories of things that are past; but as things directly and peculiarly ordered in the wise and holy counsel of God, for our use and advantage. Especial instances we shall meet with, many toward the end of the Epistle.
Consider also what is expected from us above them that lived under the Old Testament. Where much is given, much is required. Now, we have not only the superadded helps of gospellight, which they were not intrusted with, but also whatever means or advantages they had, they are made over unto us, yea their very sins and punishments are our instruetions. As God in his grace and wisdom hath granted unto us more light and advantage than unto them, so in his righteousness he expects from us more fruits of holiness, unto his praise and glory.
There is yet another observation which the words opened will afford unto us, arising from the season which the apostle presseth upon their consideration in that word to-day. Aud'it is, that,
Obs. XI. Especial seasons of grace and obedience are in an especial manner to be observed and improved.--For this end are they given, and are made special, that they may be peculiarly improved. God doth nothing in vain ; least of all in the things of grace, of the gospel of the kingdom of his Son. When he gives an especial day to the husbandman and vineyard, it is for especial work. “ To-day, if you will hear his voice.” We may therefore inquire, first, What is necessary unto such an especial season; and then, What is required unto a due observ. ance and improvement of it. And I shall refer all by a due analogy unto those especial days respected in the text.
For the first, such a day or season consists in a concurrence of sundry things.
1. In a peculiar dispensation of the mçans of grace; and hereunto two things are required.
First, Some especial effects of providence, of divine wisdom and power making way for it, bringing of it in or preserving of it in the world. There is, there ever was, a strong opposition at all times against the preaching and dispensation of the gospel. It is that which the gates of hell engage themselves in, although in a work wherein they shall never absolutely prevail, Matt. xvi. 19. As it was with Christ, so it is with his word. The world combined to keep him from it, or to expel him out of it, Acts iv. 25–27. So it dealeth with his gospel, and all the concernments of it. By what ways and means, on what various pretences this is done, I need not here declare, and it is generally known. Now when God, by some especial and remarkable acts of his providence, shall powerfully remove, overcome, or any way divert that opposition, and thereby make way for the preaching or dispensation of it, he puts a speciality upon that season. And without this, the gospel had never made an entrance upon the kingdom of Satan, nor been entertained in any nation of the world. The case before us gives us an instance. The day mentioned in the text, was that which the people enjoyed in the wilderness; when the worship of God was first revealed unto them, and established amongst them. By what means this was brought about, is summed up in the prophet Isaiah, ch. li. 15, 16. “ I am the Lord thy God, that divided the sea, whose waves roared: the Lord of hosts is his name. And I have put my words in thy mouth, and have covered thee in the shadow of mine hand, that I may plant the heavens and lay the foundation of the earth, and say unto Zion, Thou art my people." The work which God wrought when he brought the people out of Egypt was so great, that it seemed to be the creation of a new world, wherein the heavens were planted, and the foundation of the earth was laid. And what was the end of it, what was the design of God in it? It was all to put his word into the mouths of his people, to erect Zion, or a church state, amongst them, to take them into a covenant re\ation with himself for his worship. This made that time their special day and season. The like works, for the like purpose, at any time will constitute the like season. When God is pleased to make his arm bare in behalf of the gospel, when his power and wisdom are made conspicuous in various instances for the bringing it in unto any place, or the continuance of its preaching against oppositions, contrivances and attempts for its expulsion or oppression, then doth he give a special day, a season unto them who do enjoy it.
Secondly, It consists in an eminent communication of the gifts of the Holy Ghost unto those by whom the mysteries of the gospel are to be dispensed; and that either as to the ina crease of their number, or of their abilities, with readiness unto and diligence in their work. When God thus gives the word, great is the army of them that publish it; 27 X3 nov2017, Psal. lxviii. 11. The word is of the feminine gender, and denotes the churches ; which, ver. 26. of that Psalm, are called niinpa, which we render congregations,' that is churches, in the same gender : “ Bless their God in the congregations ;" nippa, the churches or congregations publishing the word, or glad tidings,' as the word signifies. And hereof there is x78 37,' a great army. For the church in its work and order is,