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on earth, is here eminently, though not solely intended. For so the contrast runs--As God of old spake by the prophets, so in these last days he spake by his Son. His personal ministry was confined to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, Matt. xv, 24, to whom alone at first he sent his apostles, Matt. x, 5, 6, and is therefore said to be a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God,” Rom. xv,5. The words, Matt. xxi, 37, “Last of all he sent unto them his Son, explain the apostle's meaning. Thus Jacob also, Gen. xlix, 1, “I will tell you that which shall befall you (en' er gulwvýjepwv, Sept.) “in the last days;" the words here used by the apostle. The days pointed out by Jacob are evidently those wherein the Messiah should come, before Judah was utterly deprived of sceptre and scribe. The sum is, that since the end of their church state was foretold to be a perpetual desolation, Dan. ix, 27, and the last days were now come upon them, they might understand what they were shortly to expect. The important end of the Jews being a people, a church, and kingdom, was to bring forth the Messiah, whose coming and work must of necessity put an end to their old state and condition.
86. This makes it evident who were the persons spoken to in these last days. Tous; that is, the members of the Jewish church, who lived in the days of our Lord's personal ministry, and afterwards under the preaching of the gospel to that day, chap. ij, 3. The Jews of those times were very apt to think, that if they had lived in the days of the former prophets, and had heard them deliver their message from God, they would have received it with a cheerful obedience; their only unhappiness, as they thought, was, that they were “born out of due time,” as to the prophetical revelations, Matt. xxiii, 30. Now the apostle, aware
of this prejudice, informs them, that God, in the revela. tion of the gospel, had spoken to themselves what they so much desired. If then they attend not to this word, they must needs be self-condemned.' Besides, that care and love which God manifested towards them, in speaking to them in this immediate manner, required the most indisputable obedience, especially considering how far this mode excelled what he had before used towards the fathers. This leads to
87. 2. The next difference, which respects the manner of these several revelations of the will of God, and that in two particulars; for,
$1. The former was made (Tohupepws) by many and divers parts, one after the other, and consequently at “sundry times.” The branch of the antithesis answering hereunto is not expressed, but is evidently implied to be (tak or Qatak) at once. The expression intends the gradual discovery of the mind and will of God, by the additions of one thing after another at several seasons, as the church could bear the light of them, and as it was subservient to his main design of preserving all pre-eminence to the Messiah. How all this is argumentative to the apostle's purpose will instantly appear. Take the expression absolutely, to denote the whole progress of divine revelation from the beginning of the world, and it compriseth four principal parts or degrees, with those that were subservient to them. The first of these was made to Adam, which was the principle of faith and obedience to the antediluvian fathers; and to this were subservient all the consequent particular revelations before the flood. The second to Noah, after the flood, in the renewal of the covenant and establishment of the church in his family, Gen. viii, 21; ix, 9, 10; whereunto where subservient the revelations made to Melchisedech, Gen. xiv, 18, and others, before the calling of Abraham. The third to Abraham, with a peculiar restriction of the promise to his seed, and a fuller illustration of the nature of it, Gen. xii, 1-4; xv, 11, 12, and xvii, 1, 2, confirmed in the revelations made to Isaac, Gen. xxvi, 2, 4. Jacob, Gen. xlix, and others of their posterity, The fourth to Moses, in the giving of the law, and erection of the Jewish church in the wilderness; to which was principally subservient the revelation made to David, which was peculiarly designed to perfect the Old Testament worship, 1 Chron. xxiii, 25-28; xxviii, 249. To which we may add Solomon, with the rest of the prophets in their respective days; particularly those who before and during the captivity pleaded with the people about their defection by scandalous sins and false worship; and Ezra, with the prophets that assisted in the reformation of the church after its return from Babylon, who, in an eminent manner, excited the people to expect the coming of the Messiah.
$8. These were the principal parts and degrees of divine revelation from the foundation of the world to the coming of Christ, at least until his forerunner, John the Baptist. And this the apostle reminds the Flebrews of; that the will of God concerning his worship, was not formerly all at once revealed to his church by Moses or any other; but by several parts and degrees, by new additions of light, as in his infinite wisdom and care he saw meet: and hereby he clearly convinces them of their mistake in their obstinate adherence to the Mosaical institutions. It is as if he had said, Consider the way whereby God revealed his will to the church hitherto, hath it not been by parts and degrees? Hath he at any time shut
progress of revelation? Hath he not always kept the church in expectation of new discoveries of his will? Did he ever declare that he would add no more to what he had commanded, or make no alteration in what he had instituted? Therefore Moses, when he had finished all his work in the Lord's house, tells the church, God would raise up another prophet like unto him; that is, who should reveal new laws and institutions as he had done, whom they were to hear and obey, on the penalty of utter extermination, Deut. xviii, 13. In opposition to this gradual revelation, the apostle intimates that now, by Jesus the Messiah, the Lord hath, at once begun and finished the whole revelation of his will, according to their own hopes and expectations. So Jude 3, the faith was "once delivered to the saints;” not in one day, or by one person, but at one season, or under one dispensation, comprising all the time from the entrance of the Lord Jesus Christ upon his ministry, to the closing of the canon of scripture, which period was now at hand. This season being once past and finished, no new revelation is to be expected to the end of the world, nor any alteration in the worship of God.
89. (2.) God spake in the prophets (Tohupotws) after divers sorts and manners. Now this respects either the various ways of God revealing himself to the prophets by dreams, visions, inspirations, voices, and angels; or, the ways of his dealing with the fathers, through the ministry of the prophets, by promises, threats, special messages, prophecies, public sermons, and the like. The latter is principally intended, though the former be not excluded, it being that from whence this latter variety principally arose. In opposition to this, the apostle intimates that the revelation by Christ was accomplished (mOverdws) in one
only way and manner—by his preaching the everlasting gospel.
$10. (3.) The last difference in the comparison is, that of old, God spake (EV TOLS T po Qnieus) in the pra phets, but now (ev TW ủi) in the Son.*
Now the prophets, in whom God spake of old, were all those who were divinely inspired, and sent to reveal the mind and will of God, whether by word of mouth or by writing. That which made any revelation to be prophecy, in that sense so as to be an infallible rule for the church, was not the means of its communication to the prophets, but that inspiration of the Holy Ghost which implanted in their minds, what God would have them utter. 2 Pet. i, 24, 28.
$11. Answerable to this speaking of God in the prophets,. it is asserted, that in the gospel revelation God spake by or in his Son. This is the main hinge on which all the apostle's after arguments throughout the epistle turn; and this bears the stress of all his inferences. And, therefore, having mentioned it, he proceeds immediately to that description of him, which gives evidence to all he deduces from this consideration. That the Son of God did mostly appear to the fathers under the Old Testament, is acknowledged by the ancients, and evident in scripture: See Zech. ii, 8–11. The Divine mediator having, from the foundation of the world, undertaken the care and salvation of the church, he it was who immediately dealt with it in what concerned its instruction and edification. This, however, doth not hinder but that God the Father is the fountain of all Divine revelation. There is
*Ev here answers the Hebrew », Numb. xii. God spake nos in M08e8. The expression intimates the certainty of the revelation, and the presence of God with his word.