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these words, I come now to consider the particulars contained in them namely, these two things:
First, That the gospel hath taken away the obligation of the law or Moses. In Christ jesus neither tircumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision.
Secondly, That according to the terms of the Christian religion, nothing will avail to our justification and acceptance with God, but the real renovation of our hearts and lives; neither circumciston, nor uncircumcifion, but a new creature.
1. That the gospel hath taken away the obligation of the law of Moses. In Christ Jesus, that is, now under the dispensation of the gospel, neither circum(iston availeth any thing, nor uncircumcifion. There was never any general obligation upon mankind to> this rite of circumcision, but only upon the feed of > Abraham; but yet upon the preaching of the gospel, many of the Jewish Christians would have brought: the Gentiles under this yoke; pretending that Cnri- stianity was but a superstructure upon the law of Moses, which, together with the gospel, was to be the religion of the whole world; and there was some colour for this, because our Saviour himself submitted to this rite, and was circumcised, which the Apostle takes notice of in the iv. chap, of this epistle, ver. 4. When the fulness of time was tome, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, that is, circumcised. And it is true indeed, that our blessed Saviour was circumcised, but not to signify to us the perpetuity of circumcision, and the continuance of it under the Christian religion, but for a quite different end; as a testimony of his obedience to that law, which though afterwards it was to expire, yet was to be obeyed whilst it was in force, by all that were born under it; he was made under the law, and it became him, who came to teach mankind obedience to the laws of God, to fulfil all righteousness himself. And therefore the Apostle in this epistle, where he takes notice of this, that Christ was made under the law, gives this reason os it, that he might be the fitter to free those who were under it, from the servitude of it; he was made under ths £ b a law,
law, that he might redeem them that were under the law; and that those who were in the condition of servants before, might be set at liberty and receivt the adoption of sons.
But how did his being made under the law qualify him to redeem those who were under the law ? Thus, by submitting to it himself, he shewed that he owned the authority of it, and that he had no malice or enmity against it; as he himself expresses it, that he came not to destroy the law, but to fulfil it. And being fulfilled, and having served the time and end for which God intended it, it expired of itself; like a law which is not made for perpetuity, but limited to a certain period. And our blessed Saviour, who came with greater authority than Moses, and gave greater 'testimony of his divine authority, had sufficient power to declare the expiration of it; and by commissioning his disciples before and after his death to preach the gospel to the whole world, he put end to that particular law and dispensation, which only concerned the Jewish nation, by giving a general law to all mankind.
So that from the death of our Saviour, and his ascension into heaven, upon which followed the general publication os the gospel, the law os Moses ceased, and according to our Saviour's express appointment, proselytes were to be admitted into the Christian church only by baptism, and not by circumcision. And if circumcision, which was the sign of that covenant was laid aside, then the whole obligation of that law and covenant which God had made with the Jews, was also ceased. It was once indeed the mark of God's chosen and peculiar people; but now that God hath revealed himself to the whole world by his Son, and offers salvation to all mankind, Gentiles as well as Jews, the •wall of separation is broken down, and circumcision, which was the mark of distinction between Jews and Gentiles, is taken away; and therefore he is said to have made peace by his cross, and to have blotted out and taken away the hand-writing of ordinances, nailing it to his cross; that is, from the time of his
death death, to have taken away the obligation of the law of Moses, though it was a good while aster, before? the Jews were wholly weaned from the veneration and use of it.
Nay, it was some time before the Apostles werer clearly convinced, that the gospel was to be preached to the Gentiles; this being one of those truths which our Saviour promised aster his departure, his Spirit should lead them into the perfect knowledge of; and then they were fully instructed, that the law of Moses was expired, and that it was no longer neceslary to the salvation of men, that thev should be circumcised, and keep that law. And though it was once enjoined by God himself to the Jews, and their obedience to it was necessary to their acceptance with God; yet now by Christ Jesus, God hath offered salvation to men upon other terms; and whether they were circumcised or not, was of no moment to their justification or salvation one way or other; but provided they performed the condition of this new covenant of the gospel, they were alf alike capable of the divine favour and acceptance.
But I proceed to that, which I mainly intended to prosecute from these words; and that is ther
Second particular in the text, namely, that according to the terms of the gospel, and the christian religion, nothing will avail to our justification and acceptance with God, but the real renovation of ouir hearts and lives; neither circumcision, nor uncircumeision; but a new creature. For the full explication! ©f this, I shall do these three things :.
First, Shew what is implied in this phrase of a new treasure.
Secondly, That this is the great condition of our Justification and acceptance with God, and that it is> the fame in substance with/a;/A perfected by charity, and with keeping the commandments of Godr
Thirdly, That it is very reasonable it should be so.
1. What is implied in this phrase of a new ere assure. It is plain at first sight, that it is a metaphorical expression of that great and thorough changer which is made in men by the gospel, or the ChristV J8-b j aa an religion. The scripture sets forth to us this change by great variety of expressions, by tonverfion, and turning from our iniquities unto God; by repentance, ('which signifies a change of our mind and resolution, and is in Scripture called repentance from dead works, and repentance unto life;) by regeneration, or being born again; by resurrection from the dead, and rising to newness of life; by sanclifi'cation, and being waflied and cleansed from all filthiness and impurity, (which three last metaphors are implied in baptism, -which is called regeneration, Tit. iii. 5. According to his mercy he saved us by tbe washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost, and our being born again of water and the Holy Ghost, John iii. 3-. Except a man be bom again, &c. and ver. 5. Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God; and the purifying of our consciences, Heb. x. 22. Having our hearts j'prinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water; and the answer of a good conscience towards God, 1 Pet. iii. 21. Baptism doth now save; us; not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but -the answer os a good conscience towards God; and finally our being baptised into the death and resurrection of Christ, Rom. vi. 3, 4. Know ye not that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ, were baptized into his death? therefore we are buried with with him by baptism into death, that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory es the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of lise.) And lastly, this change is set forth to us by renovation, and our being made new creatures, and new men, 2 Cor. v. 17. Therefore if any man be in Christ, that is, professeth himself a Christian, he is a new creature; old things are past away, behold all things are become new. And so likewise, Ephes. iv. 2i, 23, 24. this great change is exprest by putting off concerning the former conversation, the old man which is corrupt according to the lusts of decut- and being renewed in the spirit os our minds, and putting on the new man, which, after God, is created in righteousness and true hel'mefs^ The expression:
preffion is very emphatical, renewed in the spirit of ear minds, that is, in our very minds and spirits, to signify to us, that it is a most inward and through change, reaching to the very center of our fouls and spirits. And Colos. iii. 9, 10, 11. it is represented much after the same manner, Seeing ye have put of the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him. Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scyehian, bond nor free, but Christ is all and in all. Which is the fame with what the Apostle fays here in the text, that in Christ Jesus neither circumcision^ availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but a new creature; that is, these external marks and differences signify nothing: But this inward change, the new creature, Christ formed in us, this in the Christian re». ligion is all in all.
But that we may the more clearly understand the just importance of this metaphor of a new creature, or a new creation, I shall,
First, Consider what it doth certainfy signify, by comparing this metaphorical phrase with other plain texts of scripture.
And secondly, That it doth not import what some would extend it to, so as to found doctrines of great consequence upon the single strength os this and the like metaphors in scripture, without any manner of countenance from plain texts:
First, I shall consider what this metaphor dothcertainly import, so as to be undeniably evident from other more clear and full texts of scripture, namely these two things:
1. The greatness of this change.
2. That it is effected and wrought by a divine power.
1. The greatness of this change; it is called uttir viS K]'i<tk, a new creation; as if the Christian doctrine, firmly entertained and believed, did as it were mould and fashion men over again, transforming them into a quite other fort of persons, than what they were before, aad made such a change in them, as the cry