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1. Where and how the two women and their sons are allegorized
II. What are meant by the two covenants.
After each of which doctrinal heads, I shall attempt to apply what has been said. May the Father of Lights and of Mercies, direct our work; lead us far into the field of truth; make us see its beauty, taste its sweetness, and feel its salutary influence in such a manner as we never did!
FIRST GENERAL HEAD.
The first thing proposed is to shew where and how the two women and their sons are allegorized. Our apostle having given us their history, expressly asserts, that these things are allegorized: and after a little, adduceth a proof in support of his assertion: For it is written, saith he, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children, than she who hath an husband. We find it so written in the book of the prophet Isaiah chap. liv. l. only the apostle, as is usual with the New Testament writers, quotes the passage as it runs in the Septuagint. Meanwhile, it is obvious to such who are acquainted with the sacred original, that there is not the least variation in the sense between it and the Septuagint here. Nay, the English reader cannot but see at first glance, the greatest harmony between the words of the prophet, as they run in our version, and the passage as quoted by the apostle. The prophet having spoken of the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow, in seeing his seed, even the travail of his soul, chap. liii. 10, 11. congratulates the church, the Lamb's wife, on the joyful event, Sing, O barren, thou that didst not bear; break forth into singing, and cry aloud thou that didst not travail with child: for more are the children of the desolate, than the children of the married wife, saith the Lord. Enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thine habitations: spare not, lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes. For thou shalt break forth on the right hand and on the left; and thy seed shall inherit the Gentiles, and make the desolate cities to be inhabited. Fear not, for thou shalt not be ashamed; neither be thou confounded, for thou shalt not}be put to shame: for thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth, and shall not remember the reproach of thy widowhood any more. For thy Maker is thing husband, the Lord of Hosts is his name: and thy Redcemer the Holy One of Israel; the God of the whole earth shall he be callcd, Isaiah liv. 1, 5.
It is obvious at first sight, that two women are mentioned here. The one is represented as having long been barren, and is styled desolate, when compared with the other, who is called the married wife. The barren, however, is now congratuled on her having many'morc children than the other; and accordingly is bid to forget the shame of her youth, viz. her barrenness, and not to remember the reproach of her comparative widowhood any morc, viz. when she was as a woman forsaken, and grieved in spirit: For that God who scomed to have forsaken her, now had mercy on her, and her Maker now testified himself to be her husband. Nothing is morc usual in scripture than to represent certain classes, or societies of mankind, by mothers and their children; witness the Song of Solomon, the xlv. Psalm, the xvi. and the xxiii. of Ezekiel, the ii. of Hosca, and several passages in Isaiah, as chap. xlix. 20-22. and li. 18. and Ix. 4. So in Rev. xii. the true church is called the woman and her seed. And in chap. xvii. the antichristian church is callert the mother of harlots, the woman drunken with the blood of the saints. While these things furnish us with a strong presumption, that the two women, mentioned by the prophet, are to be understood, not pro
perly, but in a figurative sense; the context itself puts the matter beyond all doubt. For the prophet having, in the preceding chapter, described the sufferings of the Lamb, and the glory which was to follow, in this he congratulates the Bride the Lamb's wife, viz. the church, whose Maker is her husband, verse 5th.
The church addressed, under the emblem of a woman, in the first ten verses of the chapter, is next addressed as a city, Jehovah telling her that he would lay her stones with fair colours, and her foundations with sapphires. And these two ideas of a woman and a city, are united by the apostle in the verse but one following our text, Jerusalem which is above, is free, which is the mother of us all. As it is beyond contro. versy, that the woman whom the prophet congratulates is the church, so we are as certain, as apostolic authority can make us, that in mentioning the two women, the barren and the fruitful, the desolate and the married wife, there is an allusion unto Sara and Hagar. By all who pay a due regard to revelation, the apos- . tle will be allowed to be the best interpreter of the prophet; the same Spirit who inspired the one, infallibly directing the other. In chap. li. 2. the Lord by his prophet bids his people look unto Abraham their father, and unto Sarah that bare them: for, says he, I called him alone, and blessed him, and increased him. And in the 54th chapter, he congratulates the church, held forth under the emblem of barren Sara, that her children were far more numerous than those of Hagar the married wife.
It cannot be doubted, but that as in the preceding chapter, so here, future events are represented as having already taken place. And as there the sufferings and glory of Christ are described, so it can admit of no dispute, that the period referred to here commenced at the accession of the Gentiles unto the church. Then, as it is expressed, Isaiah lxvi. 8. Zion travailed, brought forth her children, and a nation was born at once. It was not till under the New Testament dispensation, that the children of the desolate woman were more than those of the married wife. Then it was that she enlarged the place of her tent, and stretched forth the curtains of her habitation. How enlarged! when
! instead of being confined to the narrow precincts of Palestine, it extended to Rome, Corinth, Colosse, the churches of Galatia, of Macedonia, the seven churches of Asia, and to all who in every place, called upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Then the church broke forth on the right hand, and on the left. Her seed began to inherit the Gentiles, to make the desolate cities to be inhabited. The wilderness began to be glad, and the desert to rejoice, and blossom as the rose.
But though all this respecting the barren woman, be certain as the word of the living God, and clear as the light of the noon day sun, it is not so evident at first view, what we are to understand by the married wife and her children. Many, indeed, find no difficulty in the matter, telling us, that by them we are to understand the Old Testament or the Jewish church, and by Sara and hers the New Testament or the Christian church, observing in proof and illustration of this, that the children of the New Testament church are far more numerous than were ever those of the Old. The Gentiles, say they, so long forsaken of God, are fitly represented by the barren woman, while the Jews whom he chose for his peculiar people, are as properly held forth under the emblem of her who was married. But plausible as this hypothesis may seem, and supported as it is by many, so venerable for their piety, Jearning and abilities, I am persuaded, that on a more careful investigation of the subject, it will appear to be without solid foundation. I cannot but cheerfully embrace the sentiment of a celebrated commentator, (Vitringa,) who, by the barren woman, understands the patriarchal church, and by the married, the carnal Jewish people. Says he, “ The apostolic church, according to the apostle, is not Sara, but Isaac. Isaac sustained the type and figure of Christ Jesus, and of believers in Christ, who should be born after the mystical Ishmael (the carnal Jewish people:) Sara, the type
of the patriarchal church, which had the promise of Isaac, but late in being accomplished.” By the patriarchal church is meant, not only the believing patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, together with their families; but also all those who under the Mosaic economy, instead of resting on the Sinai law for life, still had their eye to the promised seed, and like Abraham, rejoiced to see his day, John viii. 56. Of this church, good old Simeon, and Anna the prophetess were members, together with all them that looked for redemp. tion in Israel, Luke ii. 25, 38. These, and all who under the Mosaic dispensation, believed in Christ, were the genuine offspring, the believing seed of the pious patriarchs, Heb. xi. 13. and therefore justly reckoned one body with them. They were the true children of Abraham and Sara, in whom they survived. Though under the law, they could be opposed to the woman who had a husband. They were under the law with a free mind, in regard that when they understood the impotence of the law, they by faith and hope panted after deliverance from this grievous yoke, after the manifestation of the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and after the accomplishment of the spiritual benefits promised to Abraham: while, on the contrary, the carnal Israelites acquiesced in the law; followed the righteousness of the law; and had for the highest object of their desire, the external and carnal benefits annexed to the observation of the law.” (Vitringa.)
That by the two women are not to be understood, the Jews and the Gentiles, or the Old and New Testament dispensations of grace, but the patriarchal church, believing in the Abrahamic promise, and the carnal Israelites, trusting in the Sinai law, John v. 45, Rom. ii. 17. may be evinced from the following arguments.
1. The Old and New Testament churches, or the church of the Jews and the Gentiles are not properly two churches, but one and the same. My dove, my undefiled, says Christ, is but one, Cant. vi. 9. No. thing is more clearly taught in scripture than the uni