« AnteriorContinua »
And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bride-chamber mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? but the days will come when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast.'Matt. ix, 15.
THE Saviour spake these words to the disciples of John, who asked him the reason why his disciples did not fast, as they and the Pharisees fasted oft.
In this part of the answer we find matter for the following observations :
1. By bridegroom, I understand Christ himself.
2. By bride, the heavenly Jerusalem, which is called the bride, the Lamb's wife
3. By bride-chamber is intended that pavilion of safety provided by grace.
4. The children of the bride-chamber are those, who, in their understanding, have travelled on beyond the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, have even left John, the fore-runner of Jesus, and have, in reality, found him of whom Moses and the prophets did write.
5. The dear Mediator, the devoted sin-offering, points forward to that awful period when he should be taken from all the living, die the death of deaths for man; when a gloom like the shades of night should be distended over all the land; when the most valiant of the bride-chamber should feel his courage give way, and fall before the dark powers of temptation; when the powers of darkness should seem to riot in sport of the Son of God, mocking the agonies of a sinless
consecrated soul made an offering for sin! This was a time for the disciples of Jesus to fast indeed.
In Isaiah lxi, 10, the Saviour is represented as being clothed with the garments of salvation, and covered with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments. In chapter lxii, 5, he is represented as rejoicing over his bride. St John iii, 29: He that hath the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom's voice.'
The bride, the Lamb's wife, or the New Jerusalem, is the same as the covenant of gospel mercy, as may be seen from the following scriptures. Gal. iv, 22, &c. 'For it is written that Abraham had two sons; the one by a bond-maid, the other by a free woman. But he who was of the bond woman was born after the flesh; but he of the free woman was by promise. Which things are an allegory; for these are the two covenants; the one from mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar. For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children. But Jerusalem which is above, is free, which is the mother of us all. For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not, break forth and cry thou that travailest not; for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband.' The apostle here calls Sarah one of the covenants which he calls Jerusalem which is above, who is both free and the mother of us all.
His reference to the words of Isaiah in chap. liv, 1, &c., very clearly corrects the opinion that the prophet spake to the Gentile church of believers, when he said, 'Sing, O barren,' &c., for it is evident the apostle appropriates this address to the covenant represented by Sarah. And indeed the prophet himself corrects the common opinion; for he says to this barren, dessolate one, Enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of their 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.' If the prophet were addressing the Gentiles, he would not have told the Gentile church that her seed should inherit the Gentiles. But if he were addressing the gospel covenant in the character of one who was desolate and forsaken, he might with propriety say that her seed, or son, who is Christ, should inherit the Gentiles; which is consistent with the scripture which saith, 'Ask of me and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.'
'No man putteth a piece of new cloth unto an old garment; for that which is put in to fill it up taketh from the garment, and the rent is made worse. Matt. ix, 16.
CHRIST Continues his answer to the disciples of John; and in this part of his answer we find matter for the following notes.
1. That the law, or legal righteousness, which they were endeavoring to acquire, was a garment extremely incomplete, he represented by an old garment, worn to pieces and in need of mending.
2. That the divine righteousness, whereby he should fulfil the law, in which righteousness alone man could be justified, stood in comparison to the other, as new cloth to an old garment.
3. That as a piece of new cloth put into an old garment would take from the garment, whereby the rent would be made worse; so those who should use the righteousness of the Lord our righteousness, only to patch their own, mixing a little of the righteousness of Christ with a great deal of fasting, humility, and righteousness of their own, would be in a worse situation than when standing simply in the law character: to which circumstance I shall elsewhere allude.
We have already seen that St. Paul was under the necessity of giving up all his hope and dependence for justification by the works of the law; the reason of which we may consider as an illustration, in part, of the foregoing subject.
1. The law could not reasonably be expected to answer a purpose for which it was not given; and it is evident, that it was not given for the purpose of giving life, or that mankind should obtain justification by it. See Gal. iii, 21: Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given, which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law.' Rom. iii, 20:
'Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.'
2. If the ministration of the law had been justification and life, it must have taken the ground of the gospel ministration, and rendered the cross vain. See Gal. ii, 21:'do not frustrate the grace of God, for if righteousness came by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.' Gal. iii, 18: 'For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise; but God gave it to Abraham by promise.'
3. As the law entered because of transgression, and that the offence might abound, it worked wrath, and was a ministration of death. Gal. iii, 19. Wherefore then serveth the law? it was added because of transgression, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made.' Rom. iv, 14, 15: 'For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect. Because the law worketh wrath; for where no law is, there is no transgression.' 2 Cor. iii, 7, 8: But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not steadfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away; how shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious?
4. From the preceding considerations, it is reasonable that we draw the following conclusion. If the law was a ministration of death, and could not give life, then surely it does not come within its province to deprive us of a life which it had no power to give. Hence the apostle's argument. Gal. iii, 17: And, this I say that the covenant that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty