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stars, and of the unequal glory of each, if the Apostle only intended to teach us the difference of the terrestrial from the celestial bodies, while all the celestial were notwithstanding to have the same degree of glory?
XL. It cannot, it seems, on any pretence, be denied, that at least the principal leaders, Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles, Martyrs, and diligent teachers of the Old and New Testament church, shall have some greater degree of glory assigned them. What was said to the Apostles, was not said to all.. Mat. xix. 28. “ when the Son of man shall fit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall fit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” The meaning of these words, if I can form any judgment, the illustrious Grotius has best of all explained. It is, as if our Lord had said, you shall occupy the next place of honour to me your king. To judge, here denotes, to be fet over, or to preside by a metalepsis, because generally presidents are employed in passing sentence. Whence a presidentskip or province is called by the Hebrews nano, Gen. xlix. 16. Zech. jii. 7. The metaphor is taken from the ancient state of the kingdom of Israel, in which the Phylarchæ, or heads of the tribes, stood in the next degree to the royal majesty, and are fuppofed to have fat by the king's throne, in chairs of state, in the public assemblies. But to confine this glory of the Apoftles within the limits of the church militant in such a manner, that in the triumphant, where they have the full reward of their labours, they shall quit their thrones, seems repugnant to reafon: nor does it agree with John's vision, who faw in heaven four and twenty thrones, and twenty four elders fitting on them, that is, the Patriarche of the Old and New Testament church, “ Clothed in white raiment, and having on their heads crowns of gold,” Rev. iv. 4. And these things are so evident, that those very persons, who, in other respects, contradict the disparity of celestial glory, own, that we are to distinguish between that happiness, which shall be the portion of believers, as believers, and the commendation, which, in the last day, shall be given to every one, in proportion to the diligence and success he shall have laboured in promoting the kingdom of Christ, and which it seems, is to be inequally distributed. But because it is a glorious thing, to obtain such a commendation from the mouth of Christ, and the memory of that testimony shall for eyer abide in the minds of believers; they cannot deny, but in the kingdom of heaven a disparity of degrees in that kind of glory may be admitted to take place among the blessed. For certainly, it is not to be thought, that
then there will be many servants of Christ, who may, in that respect be compared with the Apostle Paul. See Thefes Amya raldi de vita æterna, § 34.
XLI. The Apostle John seems to have given a check to other things, which are too curiously made the matter of enquiry, concerning the condition or state of the future world, when he said, 1 John iii. 2. « Beloved, now are we the fons of God, and it doth not yet appear, what we shall be. It is then more prudent and pious to endeavour to become hereafter partakers of that glorious life, than to gratify an itch of curiofie ty. with insipid and vain speculations. This, however, we may look upon as a certain truth, that, “ Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man to conceive, the things, which God hath prepared for them that love him," i Cor. ii. 9.
Of the Doctrine of Salvation in the first age of the World. I. E have thus far considered those benefits that are
essential to the covenant of grace : let us now more particularly take a view of the two ÉCONOMIES, or the different dispensations under which that covenant was administered. And here, according to the plan laid down, Chap. III. of the preceding book, we are more accurately to explain, first, the nature of the OLD TESTAMENT, and then that of the New. In the Old, we will distinctly consider four principal points. 1. The doctrine concerning the common salvation, as there laid down. II. The benefits or privileges of that Testament. III. Its defects, or according to Paul, Heb. vii. 18. “The Sveakness and unprofitableness thereof,” on account of which that covenant was not faultless, Heb. viii. 7. IV. Its abrogation. The DOCTRINE again, may be considered, as expressed by WORDS, figured by TYPEs, and ratified by SACRAMENTS.
II. Divine compassion published to wretched man, immediately upon his fall
, the first doctrine of grace; in such a manner, indeed, as in few words, and those almost enigmatical, summarily to contain the whole gospel: we have that first promise, Gen. iii. 14, 15. “ And the Lord said unto the serpent because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field: upon thy belly fhalt thou go, and dust thalt thou eat all the days of thy life. And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her feed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.”.
Luther long ago complained, that none of the ancient fathers and bishops, who were men eminent for knowledge and piety, had explained this passage as it deserved: their successors ought to use the greater diligence to do it with the more care : which several learned interpreters have indeed happily effected. Treading in their footsteps, we shall make it appear, that the principal articles of the gospel doctrine are summarily contained in this text.
III. We suppose, that the devil is condemned by this fentence, to whom the Lord addresses himself, under the appellation of the serpent, because he had abufed that animal, in order to deceive man. For, it is duil and trifling to restrict that magnificent speech of the Deity, as if it had its full accomplishment in that animal alone ; for besides, that it might seem unbecoming the supreme Being, to address a brute beast, void of all reason, in such pomp of language, many things said here to the serpent, if interpreted literally, are natural to that beast: as to go upon his belly and eat duft. For, we are not to affirm without scripture, that the serpent, as the Jews vainly dream, went on feet or walked erect, or had other food formerly, different from what it has now : nor to imagine, that serpents now feed only on duft ; seeing Aristotle reckons them among the rape@ceyos or omnivorous, that eat all kinds of things, and teltifies, that they eat both flesh and herbs, and that of all animals they are fond of the nicest delicacies. Duft is said to be the serpent's food; because, since it creeps upon the ground, it cannot but take duft into its mouth, along with its other food. Just as David complains in his mourning, that he ate ashes like bread, Pl. cii. 9. for while he lay on his face in the ashes, he ate the bread, that was thrown to him on the ground. Moreover what is here said of the serpent going on the belly and eating duft, is common to many kinds of worms, as the very
learned Bochart has shewn, Hierozoic. l. 1. C. 4. But how could that be a curse to the serpent, which is natural to other animals, whom Satan never abused in this manner ? And then its being detestable to man is owing to its dangerous poison, which it has also in common with other beasts; who, after sin, became a horror and dread to man. But some serpents are commended for their philanthropy, or love to men. See Vofius de Origin. Idololat. Lib. 6. c. 58: some also are fit to be eaten, and accounted a royal dainty, ibid. c. 62. In a word it is of no great consequence to man, whether any animal goes on its feet or on its belly; whether it feeds on herbs or flesh or dust. But certain it is, that by this condemnation of the
ferpent, God intended to comfort our first parents in their wretched estate. To what purpose then is it to interpret the words in such a manner, as to yield very little or no comfort at all to man, who now seriously deplored his own unhappiness ?
IV. But the principal consideration is, that the scripture expressly calls the devil, .pıv, the serpent, 2 Cor. xi. 3. and TOP OPay Toy agxasoy, the old ferpent, Rev. xii. 9. and his defeat is called the bruising him under our feet, Rom. xvi. 10. And tho' we grant, that both these things were primarily and literally faid to the animal, the instrument which Satan spoke by ; yet it is evident from the nature of the thing, that both might and ought rather to be said to the principal feducer. For, as Chrysostom argues well ; if the instrument experienced such a degree of indignation, what punishment can we probably imagine the devil incurred?
V. Nor can it be objected, that what is said to the serpent, all the days of thy life, cannot be applied to Satan, who, it is evident, is an immortal and never-ceasing spirit. For even Satan has a peculiar death, reserved for him ; namely the judgment of the last day : in which he, together with death, will be thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, Rev. XX. 10. The devil lives, when he works effectually in the children of disobedience, and thereby shews himself to be Toy xofucox qoctoes the prince of this world. He shall die when he will no longer be able, to use anyof hisinftruments inor against the kingdom of God. Thus the Lord Jesus stills the enemy and the avenger, Pf. viii. 2. and destroys him that had the power of death, Heb. ii. 14. The days therefore, of the devil's life, are those antecedent to the last judgment : which yields us an useful doctrine, as we shall presently fee.
VÍ. But God was pleased to pronounce those words, (the fource of all consolation to wretched man) against the devil in the presence and hearing of man. ist, To mortify that wicked and arrogant fpirit, who was constrained to hear his own condemnation, in the presence of fuch weak feeble creaures, whom he had so easily brought under his power, and over whom he thought to domineer for ever. 2dly, That he might revive and charm our first parents, with the sweetest confolations, to whom not only that just vengeance ought to be most acceptable, which God promised to take of their enemy; but who alfo, in the condemnation of the devil heard their own absolution. 3dly, To shew that this fentence had the nature of a laft or unchangeable will. For, as God by a peremptory and irre