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For besides this, it was improper to propose the Gentiles, to the Jews and apostles, as a pattern of salvation, because ir appears, that the contrary should be done; and we could only conclude from that position, that the apostles and Jews were' not bound to cireumcision, and the other ceremonies, any more than the Gentiles. But that was not the thing in dispute. But according to our interpretation, the apostle argues in the strongest manner: “ You ought not to put the yoke of ceremonies on the necks of the disciples, who are converted from among the Gentiles, because the fathers themselves, who were under that yoke, really felt the uneasiness of it, but did not find salvation in it, and yet they were saved, not in consequence of these ceremonies, but by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Neither are we, nor any of the human race, to take any other way to attain salvation. They there. fore are under a mistake who tell the disciples, if you will be saved, you must be circumcised, and keep the law of Moses. To sum up the whole, then, in short, the apostle here declares three things. ist, That the fathers were saved. 2dly, By the very same covenant that we are. 3dly, Through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ : intimating likewise by all this reasoning, that there can possibly be but one way of salvation. · XXXVI. This is likewise confirmed by that famous passage, Heb. xiii. 8.“ Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day and for ever.” In the foregoing verse the apostle admonished them, to keep fresh in their memory “ the word which their guides had spoken unto them, whose faith, they should follow.” Now, he gives this for the reason of that admonition, because “ Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever ;" constantly preached by all the teachers of the truth, believed on by all, and to be believed on by those that come after, if they will imitate the faith of their predecessors. The same doctrine therefore is always to be retained, because Christ, who was always both proposed, and believed, as the author of salvation changeth not. But the particles, yesterday, to day, and for ever, denote all the differences of times. Nor does yesterday here signify some. thing of a late date, as we usually say, yesterday or lately; but all the time past : as the phrase to day, denotes the time of grace under the New Testament. For this is compared to some one present day, as chap. iii. 13. “ while it is called la day ;" and chap. iv. 7. again, he limiteth a certain day, says ing in David to day; of which 2 Cor. vi. 2. “ ehou, i now is the accepted time, behold, now is the day of sa ation.
te date, asas the phrase. For this is it is called 16
As therefore Christ is to day, under the New Testament, ac knowledged the alone author of salvation, and will be acknow: ledged as such for ever; so in like manner, yesterday, under the Old Testament, which day is now past, he was the same, and as such was declared and acknowledged.
XXXVII. Let us also add what we have in Heb. ix. 15. “and for this cause he is the mediator of the New Testament, that, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgres, sions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance. Where we have an open declaration, that the death of Jesus Christ was effectual for the redemption of transgressions committed under the Old Testament. For thus the apostle proceeds. He supposes that the fathers of the Old Testament were saved notwithstanding their sins, which Socinus with his fol. lowers dare not deny. He says further, that the blood of bullocks, and of goats, and consequently of all sacrifices wható ever, could not really, and before the tribunal of God, expiate sin, and purify the conscience. Yet, since as he declares, without shedding of blood, there can be no remission, verse 22. he concludes, it was necessary, that the death of Christ should indeed be undergone, in order not only to the establishment of the New Testament, but by virtue of which the res demption of former sins might also be obtained. This is the genuine meaning of the sacred writer.
XXXVIII. And indeed Grotius shamefully shuffles, when to favour the Socinians, he thus writes on this place ; “ His death interveened for this end, that men might be delivered from those sins which generally prevailed before Christ among those called 'God's people." Is it really so? Would thus “ the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament,” denote such an action of Christ, where. by succeeding ages would abstain from the like sins as were formerly committed ? God forbid we should ever pervert Scripture thus. Redemption is 703 an expiation of sin, upon paying a ransom. Christ paid this for all the sins of his Elect, at whatever time they lived. And upon the credit of that payment, to be made at the appointed time, believers, even under the Old Testament, obtained fedemp. tion.
XXXIX. Moreover, since it is evident, that Old Testament saints were saved, it must likewise be evident that they were saved through Christ. For our Saviour himself says, John xiv. 6. “ no man cometh unto the father but by me,” And Peter, Acts iv. 12 ; “ neither is there salvation in any other is
emption of aning of the saf Grotius shan on this place alive
for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved." Nothing can be plainer than these words, which seem to be written as with a sunbeam. Yet the itch of contradiction has found something to say, but that something is less than nothing.
XL. Our adversaries except, that these passages should be understood of those who live under the New Testament, and therefore that both Christ and Peter speak in the present, and not in the past time, of us, and not of the Old Testament Saints; of the times when Christ was exhibited, and not of the Old Testament times. We answer, ist; As both texts are expressed in universal terms, they are not to be limited without cause and necessity, as there is none in this case. For if salvation could be obtained formerly without Christ, equally as now through Christ, what need had we of Christ's coming? Or, what 'so very great matter do we obtain in Christ? 2dly, There are very solid reasons why they nei. ther ought nor can be thus restricted. Because they who were “ without Christ, were strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world.” Eph. ii. 12. 3dly, The quibbling about the verbs being of the present time is idle, because verbs of that time, or tense, may equally refer to all times. And whatever expression had been used, whether denoting the future, or påst time, there might always be room left for such cavils. Besides, no reason can be assigned why the past time should be excluded any more than the future, if that verb of the present tense is thus to be racked. If this is not false reasoning against the Supreme Being, and a childish abuse of ones genius and parts, what can be called so?
XLI. That which in the third and last place, we promised to prove, namely, that there is no other means of communion with Christ but FAITH, appears from that very noted passage of Habakkuk, .so often quoted by the Apostle, but the just shall live by HIS FAITH, or the faith of HIM, namely, of the promised Messiah, Heb. ii. 4. From which Paul, at different times, proves our justification, who live under the New Testament, through faith. And then Moses declares concerning Abraham, “ and he believed in the Lord, and he counted it to him for righteousness," Gen. xv. 6; which the Apostle quotes for the same purpose, Rom. iv. 3.. David likewise declares the man “ blessed that putteth his trust in him” (the Şon) Psal. ii. 12. And Isaiah counsels the sinner to take hold of the strength of the Lord, and thus make peace with him, Isa. xxvii. 5. But what is it to take hold of the fortress of the Lord, but to believe in the Lord ? Vol. I.
gainstarts, whawhich in that
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long enunt fathers: faith it
And finally, Paul by a long enumeration of examples, which he took from the Old Testament fathers, attempts to prove this general truth, Heb. xi. 6, “ without faith it is impossible to please God."
XLII. Our adversaries object, that the passages above. mentioned treat only of a general faith in God, and not of a special faith in Christ. We deny not that as Christ was then more obscurely revealed, so believers had likewise a less distinct knowledge of him ; yet we boldly affirm, that they had some knowledge, and safficient for their time, upon the authority of our Lord, who says, “ Abraham saw my day and rejoiced," John viii, 56. and of Paul, who testifies con. cerning Moses, Heb. xi. 26. “ that he esteemed the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt;" and concerning the other fathers, ver. 13. “ that they saw the promises afar of, and embraced them,” and lastly of Peter, who tells us, 1 Pet. i. 11. that the Prophets « searched what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified before hand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow." Since then, these things were said of the heroes of that time, it will not be hard to determine, what we are to judge concerning other believers according to their rank and station. And the Patri. archs and Prophets had not acted the part of honest men, if they had enviously concealed from other believers such an excellent talent, which was committed to their trust.
XLIII. The Apostle writes nothing in opposition to this truth when he says, Gal. ii. 23. " bat before faith came, we were kept under the law." For it is far from the Apos. tle's intention to deny, that faith in Christ prevailed before his coming in the flesh, because, in the same chapter, he had highly commended the faith of Abraham, and proposed it as & pattern to us all, ver. 6, 7, 9. But by faith we here understand either the object of faith, the doctrine of the Gospel, as chap. i. 23. and the Lord Jesus himself, believed on the world, 1 Tim. iii. 16. or, the faith of the redemption already actually wrought out, as contradistinguished from the bope of the Old Testament Saints, who with earnest longing, as it were, expected the coming of the Lord, "waiting for the consolation of Israel,” Luke ii. 25. And thus we have now shewn, that the Old Testament Saints had the same promises of eternal life with us to be obtained by the same Christ and the same faith in him, and consequently also had the same covenant of grace with us.
GHA P. II.
Of the different Economies or dispensations of the Covenant
I. TT nevertheless pleased God, at sundry periods of time, and
in diverse manners, to dispense the same covenant of grace. We shall exhibit, in this chapter, a short representation of these dispensations in such a method, as first simply to explain what in this matter, seems to us most exactly agreeable to the whole tenour of Scripture; then freely, but calmly weigh the reflec. tions of other learned men.
II. This diversity of economies is comprized under two prin. cipal heads, which the Apostle calls by the names of the OLD and New TESTAMENT, where we are to note, that by the Old Testament, we are by no means to understand tbe legal covenant, obtaining salvation by our own works; that being very different from the covenant of grace. But according to us and Paul, the Old Testament denotes the testament (or covenant) of grace, under that dispensation, which subsisted before the coming of Christ in the flesh, and was proposed formerly to the fathers under the vail of certain types, pointing out some imperfections of that state, and consequently that they were to be abolished in their appointed time: or as Calvin has very well expressed it, Institut. lib. 2. chap. xi. Sect. 4. “ the Old Testam ment was a doctrine involved in a shadow and ineffectual observation of ceremonies, and was therefore temporary, because a thing in suspense, till established on a firm and substantial bottom.” The New Testament is the testament (or covenant of grace ; under that dispensation, which succeeded the former, after being consecrated and established by the blood of Christ. For this reason Christ calls the cup, which he reached to his Disciples in the supper, “ the cup of the new testament in his blood,” Mat. xxvi. 28. To signify that then at length the New Testament would be perfected when sealed by the blood of the testator, which he shed at his death.
III. It is carefully to be observed, that the difference of these testaments is not to be placed in the subsistance of the promised inheritance; as if, under the Old Testament, was allotted the inheritance of the land of Canaan, and the inheritance of heaven under the New. Nothing can be imagined less accurate and just. The allotment of the heavenly inheritance proceeds from the testament of grace, absolutely considered, which remains in