« AnteriorContinuar »
of what I have laid down against those whom I oppose in this controversy, requires no further answer to this objection. Nevertheless, for greater satisfaction, I would here observe further :
2. That such appellations as God's people, God's Israel, and some other like phrases, are used and applied in Scripture with considerable diversity of intention. Thus, we have a plain distinction between the house of Israel, and the house of Israel in Ezek. xx. 38–40. By the house of Israel in the 39th verse is meant literally the nation or family of Israel. But by the house of Israel in the 40th verse seems to be intended the spiritual house, the body of God's visible saints, that should attend the ordinances of his public worship in gospel-times. So likewise there is a distinction made between the house of Israel, and God's disciples who should profess and visibly adhere to his law and testimony, in Isaiah vii. 14–17. And though the whole nation of the Jews are often called God's people in those degenerate times wherein the prophets were sent to reprove them, yet at the same time they are charged as falsely calling themselves of the holy city. Isaiah xlviii. 2. Ănd God often tells them, they are rather to be reckoned among aliens, and as children of the Ethiopians, or posterity of the ancient Canaanites, on account of their grossly wicked and scandalous behaviour. See Amos ix. 7, &c. Ezek. xvi. 2, 3, &c. ver. 45, &c. Isa, i. 10.
It is evident that God sometimes, according to the methods of his marvellous mercy and long-suffering towards mankind, has a merciful respect to a degenerate church, become exceeding corrupt, and constituted of members who have not those qualifications which ought to be insisted on. God continues still to have respect to them so far as not utterly to forsake them, or wholly to deny his confirmation of and blessing on their administrations. And not being utterly renounced of God, their administrations are to be looked upon as in some respect valid, and the society as in some sort a people or church of God. This was the case with the church of Rome, at least till the Reformation and Council of Trent; for till then we must own their baptisms and ordinations to be valid.The church that the pope sits in, is called, The temple of God. 2 Thess. ii. 4.
And with regard to the people of Israel, it is very manifest, that something diverse is oftentimes intended by that nation being God's people, from their being visible saints, visibly holy, or having those qualifications which are requisite in order to a due admission to the ecclesiastical privileges of such. That nation, that family of Israel according to the flesh, and with regard to that external and carnal qualification, were in some sense adopted by God to be his peculiar people, and his covenant people.
That is not only evident by what has been already observed, but also indisputably manifest from Rom.ix.3,4,5.“I have great heaviness and continual sorrow of heart; for I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen AČ CORDING TO THE FLESH, who are Israelites, to whom pertaineth the ADOPTION, and the glory, and the COVENANTS, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the PROMISES; whose are the fathers; and of whom, as concerning the flesh, Christ came." It is to be noted, that the privileges here mentioned are spoken of as belonging to the Jews, not now as visible saints, not as professors of the true religion, not as members of the visible church of Christ; but only as people of such a nation, such a blood, such an external and carnal relation to the patriarchs their ancestors, Israelites, ACCORDING TO THE FLESH. For the apostle is speaking here of the unbelieving Jews, professed unbelievers, that were out of the Christian church, and open visible enemies to it, and such as had no right to the external privileges of Christ's people. So, in Rom. xi. 28, 29, this apostle speaks of the same unbelieving Jews, as in some respect an elect people, and interested in the calling, promises, and covenants God formerly gave to their forefathers, and as still beloved for their sakes. concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sake; but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers' sakes : for the gifts and calling of God are without repentance." These things are not privileges belonging to the Jews now as a people of the right religion, or in the true church of visible worshippers of God; but as a people of such a pedigree or blood; and that even after the ceasing of the Mosaic administration. But these were privileges more especially belonging to them under the Old Testament: they were a family that God had chosen in distinction from all others to shew special favour to, above all other nations. It was manifestly agreeable to God's design to constitute things so under the Old Testament, that the means of grace and spiritual privileges and blessings should bethough not wholly, yet in a great measure-confined to a particular family, much more than those privileges and blessings are confined to any posterity or blood now under the gospel. God purposely by these favours distinguished that nation not only from those who were not professed worshippers of the true God, but also in a great measure from other nations, by a constituted wall of separation. This was not merely a wall between professors and non-professors, but between NATION and NA. TIONS. God, if he pleases, may by his sovereignty annex his blessing, and in some measure fix it, for his own reasons, to a particular blood, as well as to a particular place or spot of ground, to a certain building, to a particular heap of stones, or
altar of brass, to particular garments, and other external things. And it is evident, that he actually did affix his blessing to that particular external family of Jacob, very much as he did to the city Jerusalem, where he chose to place his name, and to Mount Zion, where he commanded the blessing. God did not so affix his blessing to Jerusalem or Mount Zion, as to limit himself, either by confining the blessing wholly to that place, never to bestow it elsewhere ; nor by obliging himself always to bestow it on those that sought him there ; nor yet obliging himself never to withdraw his blessing from thence, by forsaking his dwelling-place there, and leaving it to be a common or profane place. But he was pleased to make it the seat of his blessing in a peculiar manner, in great distinction from other places. In like manner did he fix his blessing to the progeny of Jacob. It was a family which he delighted in, and which he blessed in a peculiar manner, and to which in a great measure he confined the blessing; but not so as to limit himself, or so as to oblige himself to bestow it on all of that blood, or not to bestow it on others that were not of that blood. He affixed his blessing both to the place and nation, by sovereign election, Psal. cxxxii. 13–15. He annexed and fixed his blessing to both by covenant.
To that nation he fixed his blessing by his covenant with the patriarchs. Indeed the main thing, the substance and marrow of that covenant which God made with Abraham and the other patriarchs, was the covenant of grace, which is continued in these days of the gospel, and extends to all his spiritual seed, of the Gentiles as well as Jews: But yet that covenant with the patriarchs contained other things that were appendages to that everlasting covenant of grace; promises of lesser matters, subservient to the grand promise of the future seed, and typical of things appertaining to him. Such were those that annexed the blessing to the land of Canaan, and the progeny of Isaac and Jacob. Just so it was also as to the covenant God made with David. 2 Sam. vii. and Psal. cxxxii. If we consider that covenant with regard to its marrow and soul, it was the covenant of grace: But there were other subservient promises which were typical of its benefits; such were promises of blessings to the nation of Israel, of continuing the temporal crown to David's posterity, and of fixing the blessing to Jerusalem or Mount Zion, as the place which he chose to set his name there. And in this sense it was that the very family of Jacob were God's people by covenant, and his chosen people ; even when they were no visible saints, when they lived in idolatry, and made no profession of the true religion.
On the whole, it is evident that the very nation of Israel, not as visible saints, but as the progeny of Jacob according to the flesh, were in some respect a chosen people, a people of God, a covenant people, an holy nation ; even as Jerusalem was a chosen city, the city of God, a holy city, and a city that God had engaged by covenant to dwell in.
Thus a sovereign and all-wise God was pleased to ordain things with respect to the nation of Israel. Perhaps we may not be able to give all the reasons of such a constitution; but some of them seem to be pretty manifest; as,
1. The great and main end of separating one particular nation from all others, as God did the nation of Israel, was to prepare the way for the coming of the Messiah. God's covenant with Abraham and the other patriarchs implied that the Messiah should be of their blood, or their seed according to the flesh. And therefore it was requisite that their progeny according to the flesh should be fenced in by a wall of separation, and made God's people. If the Messiah had been born of some of the prosessors of Abraham's religion, but of some other nation, that religion being propagated from nation to nation, as it is now under the gospel, it would not have answered the covenant with Abra. ham, for the Messiah to have been born of Abraham's seed only in this sense. The Messiah being by covenant so related to Jacob's progeny according to the flesh, God was pleased, agreeable to the nature of such a covenant, to shew great respect to that people on account of that external relation. Therefore the apostle mentions it as one great privilege, that of them accord. ing to the flesh Christ came, Rom. ix. 5. As the introducing of the Messiah and his salvation and kingdom was the special design of all God's dealings and peculiar dispensations towards that people, the natural result of this was, that great account should be made of their being of that nation, in God's covenant dealings with them.
2. That nation was a typical nation. There was then literally a land, which was a type of heaven, the true dwelling. place of God; and an external city, which was a type of the spiritual city of God; an external temple of God, which was a type of his spiritual temple. So there was an external people and family of God; by carnal generation, which was a type of his spiritual progeny. And the covenant by which they were made a people of God, was a type of the covenant of grace; and so is sometimes represented as a marriage-covenant. God, agreeably to the nature of that dispensation, shewed a great regard to external and carnal things in those days, as types of spiritual things. What a great regard God did shew then to external qualifications for privileges and services, appears in this, that there is ten times so much said in the Books of Moses about such qualifications in the institutions
of the passover and tabernacle services, as about any moral qualifications whatsoever. And so much were such typical qualifications insisted on, that even by the law of Moses, the congregation of the Lord, or church of visible worshippers of God, and the number of public professors of the true religion who were visible saints, were not the same. Some were of the latter, that were not of the former: as the eunuchs, who were excluded the congregation, though never so externally religious, yea truly pious; and so also bastards, &c.
3. It was the sovereign pleasure of God to choose the posterity of Jacob according to the flesh, to reserve them for special favours to the end of time. And therefore they are still kept a distinct nation, being still reserved for distinguishing mercy in the latter day, when they shall be restored to the church of God. God is pleased in this way to testify his regard to their holy ancestors, and his regard to their external relation to Christ. Therefore the apostle still speaks of them as an elect nation, and beloved for their fathers' sakes, even after they were broken off from the good olive by unbelief. God's covenant with Abraham is in some sense in force with respect to that people, and reaches them even to this day; and yet surely they are not God's covenant people, in the sense that visible Christians are. See Lev. xxvi. 42.
If it be said, It was often foretold by the prophets, that in gospel days other nations should be the people of God, as well as the nation of the Jews: And when Christ sent forth his
apostles, he bid them go and disciple all nations :
I answer ; By a common figure of speech the prevailing part of a nation are called the nation, and what is done to them is said to be done to the nation, and what is done by them is said to be done by that nation. And it is to be hoped, that the time is coming when the prevailing part of many nations, yea of every nation under heaven, will be regularly brought into the visible church of Christ. If by nations, in these prophecies, we understand any other than the prevailing part, and it be insisted on that we must understand it of all the people belonging to those nations; there never yet has been any nation in this sense regularly brought into the visible church of Christ, even according to the scheme of those whom I oppose. For there never yet has been a whole nation outwardly moral. And besides, what Mr. Blake says in his Treatise of the Covenant, page 238, may be applied here, and serve as an answer to this objection:
" The prophecies of the Old Testament (says he) of the glory of the New Testament times, are in Old Testament phrases, by way of allusion to the worship of those times, set forth to us." In Rev. xxi. 24, nations are spoken of, as having an interest in the New Jerusalem, which yet is represented as perfectly pure, with