« AnteriorContinuar »
who is altogether suited to you, and sufficient for you. Rejoice in this; and know your privilege: and,“ having such an High-priest over the house of God," avail yourselves of the opportunity afforded you, “ drawing nigh to him with a true heart, in full assurance of faith, having your hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and your bodies washed (as) with pure water: and hold fast the profession of your faith without wavering: for (all the promises of God are yours; and) He is faithful that “ hath promiseda."]
a Heb. x. 21–23.
MMCCC. CHRIST THE MEDIATOR OF THE NEW COVENANT. Heb. viii. 6. Now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry,
by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.
THE use of the Mosaic law is by no means sufficiently appreciated in the Christian world. The value of a map to travellers, or of a chart to one who navigates the trackless deep, is well known : but when God has given to us a graphical exhibition (if I may so speak) of every part of our road to heaven, we never think of looking to it as the means of instruction to our souls. Yet one would think that, after the strict injunctions given to those who drew these maps, no one would be inattentive to them. The whole Mosaic law was intended to represent, in plain and visible characters, the way of life. Hence, when Moses received his instructions from God relative to the tabernacle and all its vessels, he was ordered to take the utmost care not to deviate from them in the smallest mattera. Of this the Apostle takes notice in the words preceding our text: Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle : for see, saith he, “ That thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount.” A similar direction was given to David also in reference to the temple which his son Solomon was to erect".
a Exod. xxv. 40. b 1 Chron. xxviii. 19.
But whence arose this extreme need of accuracy? The whole plan of salvation was laid in the divine mind; and the tabernacle and temple, with their vessels and their services, were intended to shadow it forth: and the smallest deviation from the model would have led to mistaken apprehensions about the way to life : it would either have kept back from man something which God designed to execute, or taught him to expect something which it was not God's intention to perform. But, the law being a perfect model of the whole spiritual building, the Gospeledifice in all things corresponds with it; and thus reciprocally receiving and reflecting light, they mutually illustrate each other, and prepare the mind for a most accurate perception of the great mystery of redemption.
The point of which the Apostle is here speaking, is, the superiority of Christ's priesthood to that of Aaron. Having dwelt upon it at some length, he recapitulates the subject, and gives as “the sum of” his observations, That Christ, our High-priest, is every way superior to the Levitical priests, since he is the Mediator of a better covenant, and, consequently, “ has obtained a more excellent ministry than theirs."
To elucidate this important truth, I shall consider, 1. The covenant of which Christ was the Mediator
It is spoken of in reference to another covenant to which it was superior. Let us inquire then, 1. What is that other covenant ?
[It is an “old covenant, which vanisheth away.” In the Holy Scriptures we read of three covenants; the Adamic, that is, the covenant of works; the Abrahamic, or covenant of grace; and the national covenant made by Israel, that was peculiar to them, and was not binding on any other people. Now it is not with the Adamic covenant that the Christian covenant is compared, because that never waxeth old nor vanisheth away : it is at this hour as much in force as ever; and all who continue under it, will be dealt with according to it, till they take refuge in the covenant of graced. c ver. 13.
d Gal. iii. 10. and v. 3.
cold coved of threbrahamic, that was ptures of workant made bany other heistian forth
Neither is it the Abrahamic covenant with which the Christian covenant is compared; for they are, in fact, the same covenant, and differ only in the measure of light with which they are revealed. Nothing that is subsequent to the Abrahamic covenant has ever disannulled ite: and consequently, inasmuch as it never vanisheth away, it cannot be the one to which the Christian covenant is here said to be superior.
It remains then that the covenant with which the Christian covenant is compared, is that which God entered into with the Israelites in the wilderness. This was of a mixed nature: it was, in part, a covenant of works; and, in part, a covenant of grace. In as far as it promised manifold blessings to sincere though imperfect obedience, it was a covenant of grace; but in as far as it suspended those blessings altogether upon the performance of those works, it was a covenant of works. The full account of this covenant is given by Moses in the twentyfourth of Exodus --- The Prophet Jeremiah contrasts it with that new covenant which God promised to make with his people under the Christian dispensation 8 - --- and the Apostle, in the words following our text, expressly tells us, that it was of that covenant he spake, when he said it was inferior to the Christian covenant and superseded by it". But,]
2. Wherein was the Christian “ covenant better” than it ?
[It was so in its own nature, being incomparably more liberal in its terms, more rich in its provisions, more permanent in its duration. The Mosaic covenant (as I will call it) granted nothing but in a way of remuneration for services performed : the Christian covenant grants every thing upon the simple condition of our laying hold of the covenant, and asking for the blessing for Christ's sake. The Mosaic covenant held forth only temporal benefits to those who were under it: but the Christian covenant imparts to the believer all the blessings both of grace and glory. The Mosaic covenant waxed old and vanished away: the Christian covenant will endure for ever and ever.
It was so also in the promises with which it was established. The possession of the promised land, with a long continuance of peace and plenty, was the chief promise of the Mosaic covenant. It is true, there were promises of pardon and acceptance through the offering of certain sacrifices : but the pardon did not bring peace unto the conscience; nor continue longer than till the next day of annual expiation; nor extend at all to sins of greater enormity, as adultery and murder. But the Christian covenant purges away all sense of guilt from the conscience, and brings into the soul a peace that passeth all understanding : it extends to every sin that man can commit; and assures the believer, that he shall in due time possess all the glory of heaven. There cannot be conceived any want that the believer can feel, or any circumstances under which he may feel it, but there are promises in the Christian covenant precisely suited to his situation, and commensurate with his necessities: and all are to be apprehended simply by faith. Even the repentance which is necessary to fit the soul for the reception of the blessings, and the faith that is to apprehend them, are comprehended within the promises: they are not required of us in order that other blessings may be bestowed as a reward for them; but they are promised to us, as means of introducing the soul to the possession of all other blessings. If we attempt to spin them, as it were, out of our own bowels, that we may be at rest in them, and make them a web whereby to catch other blessings, both they and we shall soon be swept away with the besom of destruction. But, if we go to God for them, then shall they be conferred upon us, and wrought in us by God as initiatory blessings, preparatory to the full bestowment of all the kingdom of heaven.
e Gal. iii. 17. f Compare Exod. xxiv. 348. with Heb. ix. 19-21. & Jer. xxxi. 31-34.
h ver. 8, 9.
How much better then this covenant is than the Mosaic, must be obvious to the most superficial observer.
In order to a just understanding of the text, it will be proper yet further to inquiren]
3. In what sense is Christ “the Mediator of this better covenant ?”
[Moses, in the first instance, and after him the Aaronic priests in succession, were the mediators of the old covenant. Every thing was transacted by, and through, them. They offered the sacrifices, and carried in the blood of them before God, and offered incense before God in behalf of the people ; and then went forth from God to bless the people. So is the Lord Jesus Christ the Mediator of this better covenant. He is “ the Daysman that lays his hand upon both parties,” and mediates between them. No man comes to God, but by him; nor does God vouchsafe his blessings to any man, but through him.]
This part of our subject will be more fully opened, whilst we mark, II. The excellency of his priesthood as connected
To set forth this is the chief scope and aim of the Apostle in the whole context. And, to illustrate his subject, he points out, 1. The superior dignity of his person
(Christ is the true Melchizedec, the “ King of righteousness and peace," without father (as it respected his human nature), without mother (as to his divine nature); having neither beginning of days, nor end of life: “ for from everlasting to everlasting he is God?.” But the Aaronic priests were poor mortals like ourselves. Besides, the Aaronic priests were sinners, and needed first to offer for their own sins, and then for the people's: but not so the Lord Jesus: “ he knew no sin :" “ he was without spot and blameless :" “ he was holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens," even “ the Son of God who is consecrated for evermore m."] 2. The transcendent excellency of his offering —
[The Mosaic priests offered nothing better than the blood of bulls and of goats: but the Lord Jesus offered his own immaculate body; yea, “ he made his own soul an offering for sin"." True, it was the manhood only that suffered; but his manhood, having " the Godhead dwelling in it bodilyo,” was of more value than all the cattle upon a thousand hills: it was a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction for the sins of the whole worldP.] 3. The glory of the place where he ministers
[The tabernacle where the Mosaic priests officiated was glorious, as being consecrated to such a holy use: but, glorious as it was, “it had no glory by reason of the glory that excelleth,” even of that heavenly “ tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man 9." There is he, not in a room darkened with a veil, but in the heaven of heavens; not in the presence of a bright cloud, a mere symbol of the Deity, but in the immediate presence of God himself; not presenting the blood of beasts, but his own most precious blood, that was once shed on Calvary; not offering a cloud of incense, but pouring forth his own prevailing intercession; not bearing a breast-plate with the names of the twelve tribes, but bearing on his breast the name of every individual of his elect; not appearing there for one people only, but for all the sinners of mankind; not obtaining mere temporal blessings, or spiritual blessings for a
k Heb. vii. 1-3.
Ps. xc. 2. Prov. viii. 22–31. m Heb. vii. 26–28. n Isai. liii. 10. with Heb. ix. 11, 12. • Col. ii. 9.
p 1 John ii, 2. 9 Compare 2 Cor. ii. 10, 11. with ver. 1, 2.