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time he suffered other nations, as though they had no business or intercourse with him, to walk in vanity; (m) nor did he employ means to prevent their destruction by sending them the only remedy, the preaching of his word. The Israelitish nation therefore were then his darling sons, others were strangers; they were known to him and received under his faithful protection, others were left to their own darkness; they were sanctified by God, others were profane; they were honoured with the Divine presence, others were excluded from approaching it. But when the fulness of the time was come, (n) appointed for the restoration of all things, (o) and the Reconciler of God and man was manifested; (p) the barrier was demolished, which had so long confined the Divine mercy within the limits of the Jewish church, and peace was announced to them who were at a distance, and to them who were near, that being both reconciled to God they might coalesce into one people. Wherefore "there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, but Christ is all and in all;" (y) "to whom the heathen are given for his inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for his possession:" (r) that he may have a universal " dominion from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth." (*)
XII. The vocation of the Gentiles, therefore, is an eminent illustration of the superior excellence of the New Testament above the Old. It had indeed before been most explicitly announced in numerous predictions of the prophets; but so as that the completion of it was deferred to the kingdom of the Messiah. And even Christ himself made no advances towards it at the first commencement of his preaching, but deferred it till he should have completed all the parts of our redemption, finished the time of his humiliation, and received from the Father " a name which is above every name, before which every knee should bow." (f) Wherefore when this season was not yet arrived, he said to a Canaanitish woman, "I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel:" (y) nor did he permit the apostles in his first mission of them to exceed th e
(m) Acts xiv. 1& (n) Gal. iv. 4. (o) Matt.xvii. 11^**
( p) Eph. ii. 14. f?) Col. iii. 11. (r) Psalm ii. 8.
(>) Psalm lxxii. 8. (t) Phil. ii. 9,10. (v) Matt. xv. 24.
limits. "Go not," says he, "into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." (xv) And though this calling of the Gentiles was announced by so many testimonies, yet when the apostles were about to enter upon it, it appeared to them so novel and strange, that they dreaded it, as if it had been a prodigy: indeed it was with trepidation and reluctance that they at length engaged in it. Nor is this surprising; for it seemed not at all reasonable, that the Lord, who for so many ages had separated the Israelites from the rest of the nations, should as it were suddenly change his design, and annihilate this distinction. It had indeed been predicted in the prophecies; but they could not pay such great attention to the prophecies, as to be wholly unmoved with the novelty of the circumstance, which forced itself on their observation. Nor were the specimens, which the Lord had formerly given, of the future vocation of the Gentiles, sufficient to influence them. For beside his having called only very few of them, he had even incorporated them into the family of Abraham, that they might be added to his people; but by that public vocation, the Gentiles were not only raised to an equality with the Jews, but appeared to succeed to their places as though they had been dead. Besides, of all the strangers whom God had before incorporated into the Church, none of them were ever placed on an equality with the Jews. Therefore it is not with reason that Paul so celebrates this "mystery which was hidden from ages and from generations," (a) and which he represents as an object of admiration even to angels, (jy}
XIII. In these four or five points, I think I have given a correct and faithful statement of the whole of the difference between the Old and the New Testament, as far as is sufficient for a simple system of doctrine. But because some persons represent this variety in the government of the Church, these different modes of instruction, and such a considerable alteration of rites and ceremonies, as a great absurdity; we must reply to them, before we proceed to other subjects. And this
(w) Matt. x. 5, 6. (x) Col. i. 26. (y) Epb. iii. 10.
may be done in a brief manner, since the objections are not so strong as to require a laborious refutation. It is not reasonable, they say, that God, who is perpetually consistent with himself, should undergo so great a change, as afterwards to disallow what he had once enjoined and commanded. I reply, that God ought not therefore to be deemed mutable, because he has accommodated different forms to different ages, as he knew would be suitable for each. If the husbandman prescribes different employments to his family in the winter, from those which he allots them in the summer, we must not therefore accuse him of inconstancy, or impute to him a deviation from the proper rules of agriculture, which are connected with the perpetual course of nature. Thus also, if a father instructs, governs, and manages his children one way in infancy, another in childhood, and another in youth, we must not therefore charge him with being inconstant, or forsaking his own designs. Why then do we stigmatise God with the character of inconstancy, because he hath made an apt and suitable distinction between different times? The last similitude ought fully to satisfy us. Paul compares the Jews to children, and Christians to youths, (z) What impropriety is there in this part of the government of God, that he detained them in the rudiments which were suitable to them on account of their age, but hath placed us under a stronger and more manly discipline? It is a proof therefore of the constancy of God, that he hath delivered the same doctrine in all ages, and perseveres in requiring the same worship of his name which he commanded from the beginning. By changing the external form and mode, he hath discovered no mutability in himself, but hath so far accommodated himself to the capacity of men, which is various and mutable.
XIV. But they inquire whence this diversity proceeded, except from the will of God. Could he not, as well from the beginning as since the advent of Christ, give a revelation of eternal life in clear language without any figures, instruct his people by a few plain sacraments, bestow his Holy Spirit, and diffuse his grace through all the world? This is just the same
as if they were to quarrel with God, because he created the world at so late a period, whereas he might have done it before; or because he hath appointed the alternate vicissitudes of summer and winter, of day and night. But let us not doubt, what ought to be believed by all pious men, that whatever is done by God is done wisely and righteously; although we frequently know nothing of the causes which render such transactions necessary. For it would be arrogating too much to ourselves, not to permit God to keep the reasons of his decrees concealed from us. But it is surprising, say they, that he now rejects and abominates the sacrifices of cattle and all the apparatus of the Levitical priesthood, with which he used to be delighted. As though truly these external and transitory things could afford pleasure to God, or affect him in any way whatever. It has already been observed, that he did none of these things on his own account, but appointed them all for the salvation of men. If a physician cure a young man of any disease by a very excellent method, and afterwards adopt a different mode of cure with the same person when advanced in years, shall we therefore say that he rejects the method of cure which he before approved? We will rather say, that he perseveres in the same system, and considers the difference of age. Thus it was necessary, before the appearance of Christ, that he should be prefigured, and his future advent announced by one kind of emblems; since he has been manifested, it is right that he should be represented by others. But with respect to the Divine vocation, now more widely extended among all nations since the advent of Christ than it was before, and with regard to the more copious effusion of the graces of the Spirit, who can deny, that it is reasonable and just for God to retain under his own power and will the free dispensation of his favours, that he may illuminate what nations he pleases, that wherever he pleases he may introduce the preaching of his word, that he may give to his instruction whatever kind and degree of profit and success he pleases, that wherever he pleases in any age he may punish the ingratitude of the world by depriving them of the knowledge of his name, and when be pleases restore it on account of his mercy? We see therefore the absurdity of the cavils, with which impious men disturb the minds of the simple on this subject, to call in question either the righteousness of God or the truth of the Scripture.
The Necessity of Christ becoming Man in order to fulfil the Office
of Mediator. IT was of great importance to our interests, that he, who was to be our Mediator, should be both true God and true man. If an inquiry be made concerning the necessity of this, it was not indeed a simple, or, as we commonly say, an absolute necessity, but such as arose from the heavenly decree, on which the salvation of men depended. But our most merciful Father hath appointed that which was" best for us. For since our iniquities, like a cloud intervening between us and him, had entirely alienated us from the kingdom of heaven, no one that could not approach to God could be a Mediator for the restoration of peace. But who could have approached to him? could any one of the children of Adam? They, with their parent, all dreaded the Divine presence. Could any one of the angels? They also stood in need of a head, by a connection with whom they might be confirmed in a perfect and unvarying adherence to their God. What then could be done? Our situation was truly deplorable, unless the Divine majesty itself would descend to us, for we could not ascend to it. Thus it was necessary that the Son of God should become Immanuel, that is, God with us; and this in order that there might be a mutual union and coalition between his divinity and the nature of man: for otherwise the proximity could not be sufficiently near, nor could the affinity be sufficiently strong, to authorise us to hope that God would dwell with us. So great was the discordance between our pollution and the perfect purity of God. Although man had remained immaculately innocent, yet his condition would have been too mean for him to approach to God without a Mediator. What then can he do, after having been plunged by his fatal fall into death and hell, Vol. I. 3 R