Imatges de pÓgina

brought it as a proof that Jacob and the Patriarchs looked for a better country. That Jacob did so, is unquestionable; but it can never be allowed that the words, in their literal and obvious meaning, express any such thing. Pharaoh is here questioning the Patriarch, not of human life in general, but of his own. Therefore, to make the reply pertinent, Jacob must be understood to mean by his pilgrimage, the unsettled way of life, living in tents, and removing from place to place, as the convenience of pasturage gave him invitation and, by the evil of his days, the straits he suffered from the fraud of Laban, and the hatred of his brother Esau. As for the complaint of the fewness of his days, he himself explains it to be, not on account of the shortness of human life in general, but, because he had not attained unto the days of the years of the life of his fathers. The sense, therefore, which the writer of the epistle to the Hebrews puts upon these words, must needs be the spiritual sense.

3. The same Patriarch, in his last benediction of his sons, breaks in upon the prophetic blessings with this pious ejaculation, I have waited for thy salvation, O Lord which is supposed to respect the salvation of mankind by JESUS CHRIST. I grant it doth so in a spiritual sense; nay, for aught I know, it may in a literal. But how should an early Jewish Reader understand it in this sense, when the same terms of the salvation of God, or of the Lord, are perpetually employed, throughout the whole Bible, to signify God's temporal mercies to the Patriarchs and their Posterity: and when now, that the Mystery of the Gospel hath been so long revealed, Christian Commentators understand it in an hundred different senses?

4. BALAAM, under the influence of the Holy Spirit, says, Let me die the death of the Righteous, Chap. xi. ver. 13. † Gen, xlix, 18.


and let my last end be like his*: Which is understood as a wish that he might be partaker with the Righteous in another life. Had the apostate Prophet said, Let me live the life of the Righteous, it would have had a much fairer claim for such a meaning. As it is, Both the force of the words, and their relation to the context, restrain us to this literal meaning," Let me die in a mature old age, after a life of health and peace, with all my posterity flourishing about me: as was the lot of the righteous observers of the Law." This vain wish, Moses, I suppose, recorded, that the subsequent account of his immature death in battle† night make the stronger impression on the serious Reader, to warn him against the impiety and folly of expecting the last reward of virtue for a life spent in the gratification of every corrupt appetite. But if any one will say, the words have, besides, a sublimer meaning, I have no reason to contend with him.

5. The next is a stricture of the Law in Leviticus, urged by Dr. Stebbing in this manner, "Moses inforces the obedience of the Israelites upon this "consideration, Ye shall therefore keep my statutes "and judgments, which if a man do he shall live in "them. Here is a promise of life made to those "who should observe the statutes and judgments "which God gave them by his servant Moses; which "cannot be understood of this temporal life only, "because the best men were often cut off in the midst "of their days, and frequently suffered greater adver"sities than the most profligate sinners. The Jews "therefore have constantly believed that it had a $! respect to the life to come. When the lawyer in "the Gospel had made that most important de"mand, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal Numb, xxii. 10. + Ch. xxxi. ver. 8. Levit. xyiii. 5.



[ocr errors]

"life*, our blessed Lord refers him to what was "written in the Law; and, upon his making a sound " and judicious answer, approves of it; and for sa"tisfaction to his question, tells him, This do, and "thou shalt live."

The Objector would have the promise of life in Leviticus to signify eternal life. But St. Paul himself had long ago decided this question, and declared for the negative. A dispute arose between him, and the judaizing Christians, concerning what it was which justified before God, or intitled to that eternal life brought to light by the Gospel. They held it to be the works of the Law (believing perhaps, as the Objector assures us they did, that this text, in Leviticus, had a respect to the life to come:) St. Paul, on the contrary, affirms that it was faith in Jesus the Messiah. And thus he argues-" But no man is justified "by the Law in the sight of God, it is evident: for "the just shall live by faith. And the Law is not "of faith, but the man that doth them shall live in "them."-As much as to say-"That no man can obtain eternal life by virtue of the Law is evident from one of your own Prophets [Hab.] who expressly holds, that the just shall LIVE by FAITH. Now, by the Law, no rewards are promised to faith, but to works only. The man that DOTH them (says the Law in Levit. §) shall live in them." Here then we see that this very text, which the Objector brings to prove that eternal life was by the Law, St. Paul urges, to prove that it was not by the law. Let us attend to the Apostle's argument. He is to shew that justification, or eternal life, is by faith. This he does even on the concession of a Jew, the Prophet Habbakkuk ; who expressly owns it to be by faith. But the Law,


Luke x. 25. ↑ Gal. iii. 11, 12. † Ch. ii, 4. § Ch, xviii. 5.


says the Apostle, attributes nothing to faith; but, to DEEDS only, which if a man DO he shall live in them. Now, if, by life, be here meant, as the objector supposes, eternal life, then St. Paul's argument does not come out as he intended it; namely, that faith, and not the works of the Law, justifies; but thus, that both faith and the works of the Law justify, which would have satisfied these Judaizers, as reconciling on their own prejudices Moses and Habakkuk; but would, by no means, have satisfied our Apostle; whose conclusion on this question, where discussed at large, in his Epistle to the Romans, is, that a man is justified by faith WITHOUT the deeds of the Law*. The very drift of his argument therefore shews us, that he must necessarily understand the life, promised in this text of Leviticus, to be TEMPORAL life only. But charitably studious, as it were, to prevent all possible chance of our mistaking him on so important a point, Hẹ immediately subjoins, Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the Law f. Now we know that our redemption by Christ was from that death which the first man brought into the world; the curse which he entailed upon his posterity. Therefore the transferring this term from Adam to the Law, shews plainly that in the Apostle's sentiments, the Law had no more a share in the redemption of fallen man than Adam himself had. Yet it is certain, that if the Law, when it said, He who keeps these statutes and judgments shall live in them, meant, for ever, it proposed the Redemption of Mankind as completely as the blessed Jesus himself did, when he said, he that believeth in

shall have everlasting life. This becomes demonstrable, if St. Paul's reasoning will hold, who surely "had heard nothing of this prerogative of the Law, 72726 * Rom. iii. 28.

+ Gali iii. 73.



[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


when he said, If there had been a LAW given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the Law. Where observe, I pray you, the force of the word worоinea, which signifies to quicken, or to make alive; plainly intimating the same he had said in the place quoted before, that those in subjection to the Law were under a curse, or in the state of death.-Let me add only this further observation, that if (as this Objector pretends) by life in the text of Levit. be meant eternal life; and if (as the Apostle pretends) by life, in the text of Habakkuk, be meant eternal life; then will Moses and Habakkuk be made directly to contradict one another; the first giving that eternal life to WORKS, which the latter gives to FAITH. But Dr. Stebbing would insinuate, that Jesus himself seems to have affixed this sense to the text in Leviticus; however, that the plain inference is that eternal life was taught at least, if not obtained by the Law. "When the Lawyer in the Gospel (says he) had made "that most important demand, Master, what shall I "do to inherit eternal life? our blessed Lord refers "him to what was written in the Law, and upon his


making a sound and judicious answer, approves of "it; and for satisfaction to his question, tells him, "This do and thou shalt live."-Would not any one now conclude, from the sense here put upon the words of Jesus, that the sound and judicious answer of the Lawyer must have been a quotation of the text in Leviticus,-Ye shall keep my statutes, which if a man do he shall live in them;—or at least some general promise made to the observers of the whole Law of Moses? No such matter: On the contrary, the Lawyer's answer was a quotation of only one precept of the Law, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, &c. and thy neighbour as thyself. Now how

* Luke x. 25.

« AnteriorContinua »