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perfect, but the Bringing In Of A Better Hope Did;—That Christ hath obtained a more excellent ministry than Moses, by how much also he is the Mediator Of A Better Covenant, which is established upon Better Promises;—That the Law
WAS ONLT A SHADOW OF GOOD THINGS TO COME,
and not the very image; is it possible, I say, that such a Writer should forget himself before he came to the end of his Epistle, and, in contradiction to all this, affirm that Life and Immortality was known and taught under the Law? We may venture to say then, that this eleventh chapter must have a very different meaning. Let us see if we can find it out: and sure it requires no great search.
2. The whole argument of tlie Epistle to the Hebrews is directed against Jews and judaizing Christians. The point in difference was this: The Gospel taught Justification By Faith: The Judaizers thought it must needs be" by Works. One consequence of which, in their opinion, was, that the Law of Moses was still in force. They had no more conception than our modern Socinians and Freethinkers, that there could be any merit in Faith or Belief, where the understanding was unavoidably determined by evidence. The Reader sees then, that the dispate was not whether faith in Moses or faith in Jiifus made men acceptable to God; but whether works or the act of believing; consequently, where the Apostle shews it was faith, or the act of believing, he must mean faith in the generic sense, not in the specific, i.e. he did not mean faith in Jesus: for the Jews, even that part of them which embraced Jesus as the Messiah, denied it to be any kind offaith whatsoever. On the contrary, had they held justification to be by faith in Moses, and not in Jesus, then it had been
the Apostle's business to prove, that it was the specific faith in Jesus. But as the dispute stood, all he had to do was to prove that it was the act of believing, and not works, which justified. And this we find he does with infinite address; by shewing, that that thing which made all the Patriarchs before the Law, and all the Rulers and Prophets under the Law, acceptable to God, was not works, but faith. But then what kind of faith? Doubtless faith in God's promises: for he is arguing on their own concessions. They admitted their ancestors to have had that faith *: they did not admit that they had faith in Christ. For the Apostle therefore to assert this, had been a kind of begging the question. Thus we see that not only the pertinency, but the whole force of the reasoning turns upon our understandingyjj/rA, in this chapter, to mean faith in the God of their fathers.
But the Apostle's own definition of the word puts the matter out of question. We have said, the dispute between him and the Jewish Converts necessarily required him to speak of the efficacy of faith in the generic sense. Accordingly his definition of Faith is, that it is The Substance Of Things Hoped For,
THE EVIDENCE OF THINGS NOT SEEN f- Not of
faith in the Messiah, but of belief in general, and on good grounds. Indeed very general, according to this Writer; not only belief of the future, but the past. It is, says he, the substance of things hoped for; and this he illustrates by Noah's reliance on God's promise to save him in the approaching deluge J. It is, again, the evidence of things not seen; and this be illustrates by our belief that the worlds were framed
• Thus their Prophet Habakkuk had said, The just shall Ute by his faith, chap. ii. ver. 4.
t Heb. xi. 1. I Ver. 7.
by the word of God". Having defined what he means by faith, he next proceeds to shew its nature by its common efficacy, which still relates only to faith in the generic sense—But without faith it is impossible to please him [God], for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him f; which very faith he immediately illustrates by that of Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and Moses. And that no doubt might remain, he farther illustrates it by the faith of the Jewish People passing the Red Sea, and encompassing the walls of Jericho; and by the faith of Rahab the harlot. But was any of this, the faith in J Esus the Messiah? or a belief of a future state of rewards and punishments? As here the Apostle tells us of the great rewards of faith, so in his third chapter he speaks of the punishment of unbelief; which was the shutting out a whole generation from the land of Canaan, and suffering them to perish in the Wilderness: So we see (says he) they could not enter in because of unbeligff. But was this unbelief want of faith in the Messiah, or any thing but want of faith in the promise of the God of Israel, who assured them that he would drive out the Canaanite from before them 2 Lastly, to evince it impossible that faith in the Messiah should be meant by the faith in this eleventh chapter, the Apostle expressly says, that all those to whom he assigns this faith, HAD Not ReceivKD THE PROM is Eğ. Therefore they could not have faith in that which was never yet proposed to them for the object of faith: For how should they believe in him of whom they have not heard? says the Apostle. - * Heb. xi. 3. + Ver. 6. ! Yer. 19. § Ver. 13 & 39. St. Paul St. Paul had the same argument to manage in his Epistle to the Galatians; and he argues, from the advantages of faith or belief in God, in the very same manner. But of his argument, more in the next section. - - Let us obscrve farther, that the sacred Writers not only use the word faith in its generic sense of believing on reasonable grounds; but likewise the word Gospel. (a more appropriated term) for good tidings in general. Thus this very Writer to the Isebrews—For unto us was the Gos PEL preached as well as unto them ", i.e. the Israelitcs. - Having shewn, that by the Faith, here said to be so extensive amongst the Jewish People, is mcant faith in those promises of God which related to their own Dispensation, all the weight of this objection is removed. For as to the promises seen afar off and believed and embraced, which gave the prospect of a better country, that is, an heavenly f, these are confined to the Patriarchs and Leaders of the Jewish People. And that they had this distant prospect, I am as much concerned to prove as my Adversaries themselves. And if I should undertake to do it more effectually, nobody I believe will think that I pretended to any great matter. But then let us still remember there is a vast difference between see ING THE PRoM is Es A FAR or F and RECEIVING THE PROM is E: the latter implying a gift bestowed; the former, only the obscure and distant prospect of one to come. This indeed they had : but as to the other, the sacred Writers assure us that, in general, they had it not.— And these ALL having obtained a good report through faith, RECEIVED NOT THE PROMISE f. For though all the good Israelites in general had faith in God, and * Chap. iv. ver, 2. t Ver, 13–16. 1 Ver. 39. the
the Patriarchs and Leaders had the hope of a better Country, yet neither the one nor the other received the Promise. . . . . . . . . . . . I have said, that the hopes of a better country, is to: be confined to the Patriarchs and Leaders of the ancient Jews: Nor is this contradicted by what is said of others who were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better Resurrection *, for this refers (as our English Bibles shew us) to the history of the Maccabees; in whose time it is confessed the Doctrine of a future state was become national. How the People got it—of what materials it was. composed--and from what quarters it was fetched, will be seen hereafter. It is sufficient to observe at present, that all this, the Jews soon forgot, or hid from themselves, and made this new flattering Doctrine a part of the Law. Hence the Author of the Second book of Maccabees makes one of the Martyrs say—tFor our brethren who now have suffered a short pain, are dead unto God's coveNANT of EveRIAsting LIFE f. But it may be asked, how came this Covenant of everlasting life to lie so perfectly concealed, from the time of Moses to the great Captivity, that, as appears from their History, neither Princes norPeople had the least apprehension or suspicion of such a Covenant? . . . . . . . But here a proper occasion offers itself to remove a . seeming contradiction between the Writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews, and St. Paul, in his speech to the synagogue at Antioch, which will give still further light to the subject. The former says, And these all having obtained a good report through faith, REcEiv ED NoT THE PROMISE . And the latter, THE FROM is E which was MADE UNTo THE FATHERs; * Ver. 35, + 2 Macc. vii. 36. f Heb. xi. 39.” Vol. V, F F God