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If it be said, that we must suppose multitudes in Israel at. tended the passover, from age to age, without such a visibility of piety as I have insisted on; and yet we do not find their attending this ordinance charged on them as a sin, in scripture : I answer; We must also suppose that multitudes in Israel, from age to age, attended the passover, who lived in moral insincerity, yea and scandalous wickedness. For the people in general very often notoriously corrupted themselves, and declined to ways of open and great transgression ; and yet there is reason to think, that in these times of corruption, for the most part, they upheld circumcision and the passover' ; and we do not find their attending on these ordinances under such circumstances, any more expressly charged on them as a sin, than their coming without piety of heart. The ten tribes continued constantly in idolatry for about two hundred and fifty years, and there is ground to suppose, that in the mean time they ordinarily kept up circumcision and the passover : For though they worshipped God by images, yet they maintained most of the ceremonial observances of the law of Moses, called the manner of the God of the land, which their priests taught the Samaritans, who were settled in their stead, 2 Kings, xvii. 26, 27. Nevertheless we do not find Elijah, Elisha, or other prophets that were sent among them, reproving them for attending these ordinances without the required moral qualifications. Indeed there are some things in the writings of the prophets, which may be interpreted as a reproof of this ; but no more as a reproof of this, than of at. tending God's ordinances, without a gracious sincerity and true piety of heart and life.
How many seasons were there, wherein the people in general fell into and lived in idolatry, that scandal of scandals, in the times of the judges, and in the times of the kings both in Judah and Israel ? But still amidst all this wickedness, they continued to attend the sacrament of circumcision : We have every whit as much evidence of it, as that they attended the rassover without a profession of godliness : We have no account of their ever leaving it off at such seasons, nor any hint of its being renewed (as a thing which had ceased) when they came to reform. Though we have so full an account of the particulars of Josiah's reformation, after that long scandalous reign of Manasseh, there is no hint of any reviving of circumcision, or returning to it after a cessation. And where have we an account of the people's being once reprored for attending this holy sacrament while thus involved in scandalous sin, in all the Old Testament? And where is this once charged on them as a sin, any more than in the case of unconverted persons attending the sacrament of the passover. *
Answ. II. Whatever was the case with respect to the qualifications for the sacraments of the Old Testament dispen. sation, I humbly conceive it is nothing to the purpose in the present argument, nor needful to determine us with respect to the qualifications for the sacraments of the Christian dispen, sation, which is a matter of such plain fact in the New Testament. Far am I from thinking the Old Testament to be like an old Almanack out of use ; nay I think it is evident from the New Testament that some things which had their first institu, tion under the Old Testament, are continued under the New ; for instance, particularly, the acceptance of the infant seed of believers as children of the covenant with their parents; and probably some things belonging to the order and discipline of Christian churches, had their first beginning in the Jewish synagogue. But yet, all allow that the Old Testament dispensation is out of date, with its ordinances : And I think in a matter pertaining to the constitution and order of the New Testament church, that is a matter of fact wherein the New Testament itself is express, full and abundant, in such a case to have recourse to the Mosaic dispensation for rules or pre cedents to determine our judgment, is quite needless, and out of reason. There is perhaps no part of divinity attended with so much intricacy, and wherein orthodox divines do so much differ, as the stating the precise agreement and difference be
* Let the reader here take notice of what is observed in the conclusion of roy answer to the objection from the instance of Judas.
tween the two dispensations of Moses and of Christ. And probably the reason why God has left it so intricate, is, because our understanding the ancient dispensation, and God's design in it, is not of so great importance, nor does so nearly
Since God uses great plainness of speech in the New Testament, which is as it were the charter and munici. pal law of the Christian church, what need we run back to the ceremonial and typical institutions of an antiquated dispensation, wherein God's declared design was, to deliver divine things in comparative obscurity, hid under a vail, and involved in clouds ?
We have no more occasion for going to search among the types, dark revelations, and carnal ordinances of the Old Tes. tament, to find out whether this matter of fact concerning the constitution and order of the New Testament church be true, than we have occasion for going there to find out whether any other matter of fact, we have an account of in the New Testament be true ; as particularly whether there were such officers in the primitive church as bishofis and deacons,whether miraculous gifts of the Spirit were common in the apostles' days, whether the believing Gentiles were received into the primitive Christian church, and the like.
Answ. Ill. I think, nothing can be alleged from the Ho. ly Scripture, that is sufficient to prove a profession of godliness to be not a qualification requisite in order to a due and regular participation of the passover.
Although none of the requisite moral qualifications for this Jewish sacrament, either of one kind or other, are near so clearly made known in the Old Testament, as the qualifications for the Christian sacraments are in the New ; and although the supposing a visibility, either of moral sincerity, or sanctifying grace, to be requisite, is (both respecting the one case and the other) involved in some obscurity and difficulty; yet I would humbly offer what appears to me to be the truth concerning that matter, in the things that follow.
(1.) Although the people in Egypt, before the first passover, probably made no explicit public profession at all, either of their humiliation for their former idolatry, or of present de votedness of heart to God; it being before any particular institution of an express public profession, either of godliness, or repentance in case of scandal : Yet I think there was some sort of public manifestation, or implicit profession of both. Probably in Egypt they implicitly professed the same things, which they afterwards professed more expressly and solemnly in the wilderness. The Israelites in Egypt had very much to affect their hearts, before the last plague; in the great things that God had done for them ; especially in some of the latter plagues, wherein they were so remarkably distinguished from the Egyptians : They seem now to be brought to a tender frame, and a disposition to shew much respect to God (see Exod. xii. 27) and were probably now very forward to profess themselves devoted to him, and true penitents.
(2.) After the institution of an explicit public profession of devotedness to God, or (which is the same thing) of true piety of heart, this was wont to be required in order to a partaking of the passover and other sacrifices and sacraments that adult persons were admitted to. Accordingly all the adult persons that were circumcised at Gilgal, had made this profession a little before on the plains of Moab; as has been already observed. Not that all of them were truly gracious; but seeing they all had a profession and visibility, Christ in his dealings with his church as to external things, acted not as the searcher of hearts, but as the Head of the visible church, accommodating himself to the present state of mankind; and therefore he represents himself in scripture as trusting his people's profession ; as I formerly observed.
(3.) In degenerate times in Israel, both priests and people were very lax with respect to covenanting with God, and professing devotedness to him ; and these professions were used, as public professions commonly are still in corrupt times, merely as matters of form and ceremony, at least by great multitudes.
(4.) Such was the nature of the Levitical-dispensation, that it had in no measure so great tendency to preclude and prevent hypocritical professions, as the New Testament dispensa
tion; particularly on account of the vastly greater darkness of it. For the covenant of grace was not then so fully revealed, and consequently the nature of the conditions of that covenant not then so well known : There was then a far more obscure revelation of those great duties of repentance towards God and faith in the Mediator, and of those things wherein true holiness consists, and wherein it is distinguished from other things : Persons then had not equal advantage to know their own hearts, while viewing themselves in this comparatively dim light of Moses's law, as now they have in the clear sunshine of the gospel. In that state of the minority of the church, the nature of true piety, as consisting in the spirit of adoption, or ingenuous filial love to God, and as distinguished from a spirit of bondage, servile fear and selflove, was not so clearly made known. The Israelites were therefore the more ready to mistake, for true piety, that moral seriousness and those warm affections and resolutions that resulted from that spirit of bondage, which shewed itself in Israel remarkably at Mount Sinai ; and which, throughout all the Old Testament times, they were especially incident to.
(5.) God was pleased in a great measure to wink at and suffer (though he did not properly allow) that laxness there was among the people, with regard to the visibility of holiness, and the moral qualifications requisite to an attendance on their sacraments ; as also he did in many other cases of great irregularity, under that dark, imperfect, and comparatively carnal dispensation ; such as polygamy, putting away their wives at pleasure, the revenger of blood killing the manslayer &c, and as he winked at the worshipping in high places in Solomon's time; (1 Kings iii. 4, 5) at the neglect of keeping the feast of tabernacles according to the law, from Joshua's time until after the captivity ; (Neh. viii. 17) and as he winked at the neglect of the synagogue worship, or thepublic service of God in particular congregations, until after the captivity, *
* Prid. Connect. Part I. p. 354-536, and 555, 556. gth Edit. The word tranlsated synagogues Psal. Ixxiv. 8, signifies assemblies; and is supposed by the generality of learned men to relate to another sort of assemblies. VOL. I.