In the case of a will, it is necessary to establish the death of the one who made it,
I. THE TWOFOLD EFFECT OF THE DEATH OF OUR LORD. The free surrender of his life was the means of removing, in the case of believers, the burden of those sins which the Mosaic Law could not take away. The sins committed under the first covenant were not forgiven by acts of sacrifice and the aid of priestly service, which, though ordained by Jehovah, were unequal to produce peace and purity of conscience. It may be that there is a retrospective effect of the death of Christ which furnished the ground of the dispensation of mercy before the mystery of his atonement was revealed. Considering the stress which is laid upon the value of forgiveness in the Scripture, the glory of Jesus Christ shines in the fact that he is the cause, by his death and mediatorial office, of its safe and secure enjoyment. The next effect is to be traced in the vocation of believers to an eternal inheritance, which is to stand in sublime contrast to Canaan, respecting which the Jews say (Isaiah 63:18), "The people of thy holiness have possessed it but a little while." That inheritance was defiled by idolatry, desolated by heathen invaders, and ruled over by the pagan power of Rome; but that to which our Lord calls his followers is an "inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and fadeth net away." There is a sublime harmony here between the death and mediation of our Lord, and the everlasting effects which they produce and secure.
II. THE VITAL FORCE OF THE COVENANT ARISES FROM THE DEATH OF CHRIST. Here the writer passes over to the idea of a testament or will which is of force when the testator dies. The covenant is a Divine arrangement which includes two parties, for a mediator is not a mediator of one; but God is One, and his people are those who, through his condescending mercy, stand on the other side as those who accept and rejoice in the arrangement. The mention of the inheritance suggests the thought of a testament, by which, as soon as the testator dies, the heir enters upon the enjoyment of the inheritance. This is an auxiliary illustration which aids us to understand the mighty love of the Son of God, who was ready to endure the woe and agony of the cross, to bequeath to us the blessing of forgiveness now, and the enjoyment of the imperishable inheritance of heaven in the future life.
III. THE CONFIRMATION OF THE NEW COVENANT ILLUSTRATED BY HISTORICAL FACTS. The allusion in vers. 18-22 is to the original establishment of the covenant with Israel at Sinai. There are several deviations from the Mosaic narrative in this section. In the account in Exodus there is no mention of goats, hyssop, scarlet wool, the book, the tabernacle and its vessels, and therefore there may be here a traditional account; or the writer combined several subsequent acts of Levitical services which had the same signification and object. The essential truth contained in this solemn transaction was the application of blood to ratify the covenant which was made between God and his people at Sinai. It was the Divine will that such should be the method, according to which the old tabernacle, the chosen nation, and the first covenant should be consecrated, and should foretell and typify future events of the highest importance for the world. "Without shedding of blood there was no remission." This voice was heard century after century in the services of the Jewish Law; and now that Christ has become "the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sin of the world," the truth has received a more solemn confirmation. If he is rejected, "there remaineth no more a sacrifice for sins." If he is received and trusted in, there is peace with God, and hope of eternal life. The phrase which Moses used, "This is the blood of the covenant," recalls the sacred words of Jesus, who said when he took the cup at the Passover feast, and looked forward to the covenant of grace, "This is my blood of the covenant, which is shed for many unto the remission of sins." - B.
Mediator of the new testament.I. Is WHAT RESPECTS JESUS AND MOSES ARE MEDIATORIALLY ALIKE.
1. Both of Divine appointment.
2. Both give to the world the notion of a covenant with God.
3. Both proposed a covenant that was fundamentally the same.
II. IN WHAT RESPECTS JESUS AND MOSES ARE MEDIATORIALLY DIFFERENT.
1. There is a difference of natures.
2. Jesus is a Mediator with individuals.
3. Jesus is a Mediator giving to man the fullest possible knowledge of God.
4. Jesus is a Mediator giving to man sufficiency of power.
(D. Young, B. A.)
(H. W. Beecher.)
They which are called.
(C. Girdlestone, M. A.)
A testament is of force after men are dead.I. CHRIST'S WILL IS EMBODIED IN A WRITTEN RECORD.
1. The record gives a definite meaning and fixed character to the mind of Christ.
2. The record gives to the mind of Christ an abiding existence among us.
3. The written Word renders the will of Christ accessible to all.
II. CHRIST'S WILL IS EMBODIED IN AN AUTHENTIC RECORD.
III. CHRIST'S TESTAMENT IS A WRITTEN AND AUTHENTIC RECORD OF WHAT HE HAS BEQUEATHED TO MEN. There are great bequests for each of us. We are guilty — Christ has willed our forgiveness. We are enslaved — Christ has willed our freedom. We are sorrowful — Christ has willed our peace. We are dying — Christ has willed us life for ever.
IV. CHRIST'S TESTAMENT HAS BEEN RATIFIED AND BROUGHT INTO FULL AND EVERLASTING OPERATION BY HIS OWN DEATH.
(John Davies.)"testament"; and we shall possibly, as we advance, find reason to conclude, that the full sense of the passage is only to be evolved by our attaching to the word its double signification — by bearing in mind that a "covenant" and "testament" are alike designated by the word which the apostle employs. After all, there is not the wide difference which, at the first sight, we may suppose between a covenant and a testament. If I make a will, I may, in one sense, be said to covenant and agree to give certain things to certain parties upon the condition of my death; so that a testament is virtually a species of covenant. And if, on the other hand, two parties enter into a covenant, and the terms of this covenant require that one of them should die, you all see that, without any great forcing of language, the covenant may be considered as the testament or will of the sacrificed individual. God made a covenant with the Israelites, but then this covenant was ratified by the shedding of blood; in other words, there must be death to give the covenant its validity; and the covenant which required death in order to its completeness, might, as we have shown you, without anything overstrained in language, be designated a "testament." So that under these limitations, and under these conditions, we can attach the name of a "testament" to that covenant which God made with Israel at Sinai. The exhibition which we are called upon to survey is that of our Saviour under the character of a testator; as the maker, that is, of a will, which could only become valid by the death of the party who made it. Now you will see at once that there is a peculiarity in this exhibition which marks it off from other representations of the scheme of human salvation. If Christ Jesus is displayed as bequeathing to the world legacies, which legacies could not be paid except after His death, then it may be said that it was the fact, the simple historical fact of His death, and not any merit which there was in that death, which entailed the large blessings on the race of mankind. And if by parity of reasoning the Redeemer is to be considered as a testator, or will-maker, does not the representation take away from the meritoriousness of His death, and, at least, show that it was not because His sufferings were expiatory and precious that such and such blessings have been obtained for us? A few words will suffice for the removal of this objection. If a man is worth £1,000 he may bequeath me that £1,000; and thus his death, considered as the mere separation of his soul from his body, will make me the owner of the money. But take the following case which is perfectly supposable: a criminal is sentenced to die, but is allowed, if he can, to find a substitute. He offers £1,000 for a substitute, and an individual comes forward and agrees on these terms to die in his stead. Now certainly this substitute may will away the £1,000, and yet nothing but his death entitles him to the £1,000. He might, for example, have long striven in vain to earn a livelihood for his family; he might then, calculating that his family would be more benefited by his death than his life, determine to sacrifice himself in order to procure for them the proper remuneration; and, without question, he might make a will which would secure to his children the property to which the value o! his death would alone give him right. He would thus unite the character of a testator and of a man who purchases, by dying, the goods which he bequeathes. Now this supposed case finds its precise counterpart in the matter of our redemption. "The blessings of the gospel could only be procured by the sufferings and death of the Mediator. Hence, unquestionably, the blessings which Christ bequeathed were blessings which His death, and nothing but His death, could give Him right to bestow; but, nevertheless, He might still be a testator, or still make a will. In dying He might bequeath what He was to obtain by dying; and thus real inconsistency, after all, there is none, between regarding Christ as the maker of the will, and at the same time as procuring by His death the blessings which He made over to His people. In what sense, then, did Christ make a testament or will, or what fidelity is there in such an account of the scheme of our redemption? Now we would, first of all, remark that there is nothing more frequent in Scripture than the speaking of true believers "as heirs of God," or as brought into such a relationship to the Almighty that heaven becomes theirs by the rights of inheritance. Yon cannot fall immediately to observe that the correspondence is most exact between this account of the believer as an heir and the representation of Christ as a testator. In dying Christ made us heirs. But this is exactly what would have been done by a testament; and, therefore, it is not possible that the effects of Christ's death should be more clearly represented than by the figure of Christ as a testator. But is there then, indeed, no registered will, no document to which we can refer as the testament of the Mediator? We shall not hesitate to say that there is not a single promise in the New Testament which ought not to be regarded as a line or codicil in the will of the Redeemer. If you ask us for a written testament we carry you along with us to the archives of the Bible, and we take cut of it declarations which ensure to the faithful the crown and the rapture, and we join them into one continuous discourse, and we say to you, Behold the last will of the Saviour. What, we further ask, is this but an exact parallel to that which would take place in the case of a testament? Suppose you were permitted to read a will made in your own favour; there might be the bequeathment of a rich and noble estate, there might be the coffers of wealth and the caskets of jewellery consigned to your possession; but you would never think that you had a right to the domain, and you would never be bold enough to put forward a claim to the gold and the pearl, unless you knew that the testator was dead, and that thereby a force had been given to the testament. So that the correspondence is most accurate between the promises of Scripture and the consignments of a will. Had Christ (if we may bring forward such an idea) while suspended on the Cross, and exhausting the wrath which had gone forth against a disloyal creation, dictated a testamentary document enumerating the blessings which He bequeathed to all who believe on His name, not until He had bowed the head, and yielded up the ghost, would this register of the legacy have lived, overpassing in its wealth all the thoughts of created intelligences, and given right to a single child of our race to look and hope for the heritage of the redeemed. A testament is but a combination of promises becoming valid by the death of the promiser, we give the truest description of the promises of the Bible when we define them as "the last will and testament of Christ our Lord." Now we would refer for a moment to that connection which we show to subsist between a covenant and testament. The Father and the Son had, from all eternity, entered into a covenant; the Father engaging, on the performance of certain conditions, that blessings should be placed at the disposal of the Son for the seed of the apostate. The covenant between the persons of the Trinity engaged for the pardon and acceptance of all who, in every age, should believe on the Son. Hence, you must all perceive, that what was the covenant between the Father and Son was also a document in favour of man; but, certainly, the covenant could only become valid by death; that in the fulness of time the Son should die, being its grand and fundamental article. And if as a covenant it could only become valid by death, then as a document in favour of man it could only become valid by death; but that document in favour of a party, which only becomes valid by death, is, most strictly, a will or testament. So that by one and the same act Christ Jesus performed His covenant with the Father, and made His testament in favour of man; that, in short, which was a covenant considered relatively to God, was a testament considered relatively to man. It obtained blessings from God; it consigned blessings to man, and both equally through death. You cannot, therefore, view Christ as executing a covenant without also viewing Him as executing a testament. What tie gained as a covenanter He disposed of as a testator; and whilst we say of Him, as making an agreement with God, "Where a covenant is, there must be the death of the covenanter," we say of Him, as bestowing gifts on men, "where a testament is, there must be the death of the testator."
(H. Melvill, B. D.)I. We have to inquire IN WHAT SENSE OR SENSES MAY WE SPEAK OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST AS A TESTATOR. What is involved in this idea? If a will is made, two things are implied — that there is something to leave: that there is some measure of interest felt in those who are mentioned as legatees.
1. Now in the case of our Lord Jesus Christ, we see one who has large and royal possessions, and who has these absolutely at His own disposal. All things are described as the property of Christ. All things were made by Him and for Him. Jesus Christ has power and authority to bestow all gospel blessings and privileges upon His people. He gives them grace here; He will crown them with glory hereafter.
2. And then, in making His will, Christ has distinctly in view those who are interested in its provisions — His friends, His relations those for whom, though they had no natural claim upon Him, the Saviour has bound Himself to provide. And we have the means of determining very exactly who these are. His friends are those who love Him, and who show their love by keeping His commandments.
3. A testator, in making his last will and testament, so far as there is in it any different disposition of property, supersedes, renders null and void, any will that may have been previously made. So Jesus Christ disannulled the law of the old covenant by establishing the new. Let us see to it that we put in our claim under the last will and testament of Christ. Let us not expect to receive under the law what can only come to us as a matter of free grace, under the gospel.
4. As in the case of a merely human testator, so in the case of Jesus Christ — where a testament is, for it to have force, for it to take effect, there must needs be the death of the testator; "otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth." In this particular instance there was need for the death of the testator on several different accounts. Among men it is the death of the testator which renders a testament effectual. And so this testament was confirmed and ratified by the death of Jesus Christ, and but for that death it could have had no force at all. And as after death a will may not be altered or revoked by the testator, but remains the expression of his mind to be carried out as exactly as possible, so it may not be interfered with by others. You may question its meaning, you may question whether it be the will of him who is declared to have drawn it up, you may question his right to make it, or make it in that precise form, yet, admitting it as a will, though it be only a human will, "no man disannulleth or addeth thereunto." How much more truly is this the case with the testament, the will of Christ! And we must bear in mind, in the case of this testament, that there was a. necessity for the death of Christ, which does not exist in the case of any ordinary testament. The death of Christ not merely rendered His will irrevocable, and afforded the heirs of promise a way of entering upon the enjoyment of their inheritance, as the death of every testator does, but there was this peculiarity — the very blessings which were disposed of by the will of Christ were secured and purchased by His death. A testator appoints executors in trust, who undertake, according to their ability, to see that all the provisions of his will are faithfully carried out. The Father and the Holy Ghost engage to carry out the will of Christ, and are ever actually doing so. But there is a high and important sense in which Christ is His own executor. "He ever liveth" to carry out those gracious designs which find changeless expression in His last will and testament. In the record of our Saviour's visible residence among men, we are told only " of all that Jesus began, both to do and to teach."
II. Having considered Christ as the testator, let US NOW LOOK AT THE GOSPEL AS THE "LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT OF CHRIST, We are presented with the will of Christ, not as so much mere hearsay — not as a vague and floating tradition — not as the "lingering echo" of His much-loved voice — not as a general and unaccredited expression of His intention: we have it in a written record, an authentic document. It is necessary that a human will should be written. And though it has been determined that an oral will, under certain circumstances (as in the case of soldiers on actual service, or mariners at sea), is valid, if properly attested, yet that even must be reduced to a written form. And so have we the will of Christ embodied in words of human speech. Nor can we be too thankful that it has been so handed down to us. It is not enough that a will and testament be written, it must be attested; it must be proved to be authentic and genuine. It must be shown to be the will of that very person whose will it purports to be. This last will and testament of Christ is proved by much concurrent testimony. The gospel of the great salvation, "which at first began to be spoken by the Lord, was confirmed unto us by them that heard Him; God also bearing them witness, both by signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to His own will." I feel that I am safe in affirming that the proof which sustains the testament of Christ is immeasurably stronger and more convincing than that which sustains any human and earthly will. There has been a practical proof of a twofold kind. For eighteen hundred years and more this will has been repeatedly disputed by the enemies of Christ. The wit and wisdom and science of the world have done all that they could do to invalidate it, but all these attempts have been in vain. For the same period the will has been proved by Christ's friends. We might summon a great cloud of witnesses, all of whom could bear the testimony of personal experience. There is, in every testament, provision implied or expressed that it should, with all convenient speed, be published and made known. This is necessary, that the legatees may become aware of that which has been bequeathed to them, and be in a position to put in their claim. Christ has ordained and provided that His disciples should publish His will and testament to all the children of men. We are "put in trust with the gospel." We are bound to publish the glad tidings in every direction. And we ought to ask ourselves how far we are discharging this obligation. This will and testament of Christ informs us of all that is provided for us. All that we enjoy, we enjoy under this will; all spiritual blessings and privileges come to us as they are bequeathed by the Lord Jesus Christ. This will of Christ is our sure and sufficient title to all that we possess as Christian believers. The provisions of a will constitute an absolute title as far as it goes. If you would invalidate my right to what is bequeathed, you must go back and question the right of him who bequeathed it. And so, does any one question us as to our right to the spiritual privileges and possessions we enjoy, we reply by pointing to the last will and testament of Christ, and any further question must be raised with Christ Himself. We must not look for our title to our own merit — to anything we are, or have done — but to the will trod testament of the Saviour.
(T. M. Morris.)CHRIST'S WILL: —
I. THE ESTATE WHICH HE HAS LEFT BY IT.
1. The pardon of all sin.
2. The merit of His own most glorious righteousness.
3. His own most Holy Spirit.
4. But the most glorious part of the property bequeathed by Jesus to His people is that "inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, and that fadeth not away," which is "reserved for them in heaven."
II. THE EVENT BY WHICH IT IS MADE OF FORCE. Because He hath "poured out His soul unto death," that His heirs enter into possession of the property which He hath left them. Indeed, the death of Christ has a bearing on the privileges He has bequeathed among His people beyond what can be said with reference to man's bequests. Man's death must happen before his will can fake effect because, whilst he lives, he enjoys his property himself. But Christ's death is, as it were, the purchase-money of the estate which He bequeaths. His death therefore was as essential to their enjoyment of these blessings as the payment of the sum demanded is to the possession of a piece of land.
III. THE PERSONS INTERESTED IN ITS PROVISIONS.
1. Convinced of sin.
2. Men of faith.
3. Men of grace.
(A. Roberts, M. A.)
Am. Nat. Preacher.I. WHO IS THE TESTATOR? God's everlasting Son, of the same essence, perfections, and glory with the Father.
II. WHAT ARE THE LEGACIES CONVEYED BY THIS COVENANT? In their nature and number they are very great. The sum of them is expressed thus (Revelation 21:7). They have the noblest spring and fountain with all its refreshing streams. In few words, the particular bequests in this great will of the Divine Testator, are complete deliverance from the legal consequences of sin — redemption from the curse of the law — the regeneration of our moral nature, and adoption into the household of faith — support under the trials of life — foretastes of eternal glory — and a good hope through grace which shall issue at length in the full possession of the heavenly kingdom, where every Divine and moral excellence will be perfected in the soul, and the rejoicing spirit for ever supremely happy before the throne of God.
III. WHAT ARE THE TERMS ON WHICH THIS DIVINE TESTAMENT BESTOWS ITS BEQUESTS? In all deeds disposing of property among men, there are certain conditions to be observed, in order to establish the validity of the claim. In some cases, the estate is conveyed charged with various encumbrances; in others, the observance of sundry specified acts is necessary to the legal holding of the property. Some inherit by descent, others by favouritism of the testator. In the case before us all is of pure mercy and love. There are terms, but they are not hard. Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is the sole condition of eternal life; but that faith is productive of holiness, of love, of obedience, and of all good works.
IV. WHERE IS THE PROOF OF THE VALIDITY OF THIS TESTAMENT OF LOVE? There must be attestation in every case of a human will. In the conveyance of property there must be the seal. If we were to set up a claim to the right of any possession in a court of law, the case would break down if the seal of the party from whom we plead our title was not appended to the deed of conveyance. So, likewise, a will is of no effect, till proof be given of the decease of the testator. Our blessed Lord has made His death, resurrection, and ascension to glory, the seal of His will. To conclude, Have you any part or portion in this testament? Many are anxious to know if some aged and wealthy relative has remembered them in his will. In this will all are remembered, save those who wilfully exclude themselves.
(Am. Nat. Preacher.)διαθήκη the Hebrews were purchased and became the bondsmen of the Law (an idea already rendered familiar to them by Exodus 15:16 and Psalm 74:2); but by a new διαθήκη our Lord purchased them with His blood (Acts 20:28), as the heres or familiae emptor purchased the inheritance, and having thus purchased the inheritance of the Law, became the new master of the bondsmen of the Law, and the mediator, or executor, of a new dispensation. But inasmuch as the right of the heres can only come into operation after the death of the testator (the Law), it is evident that, if the new dispensation has begun, the Law is dead and is no longer their master. In fact, the line of argument seems similar to that in Romans 7:1-4.
(H. S. Keating.)
I. Of that death and of that blood we shall speak in a fourfold way; and first, we shall take the verse as it would most accurately be translated — the blood of Jesus Christ is THE BLOOD OF THE EVERLASTING COVENANT. There cannot be much doubt that the word rendered " testament " should be translated "covenant." It is the word used for covenant in other passages, and though our translators have used the word " testament," many critics go the length of questioning whether the word can bear that meaning at all. I think they are too rigid in their criticism, and that it does bear that meaning in this very chapter; but, still, all must admit that the first, and most usual meaning of the word, is "covenant." Therefore, we will begin with that reading, and consider the blood of Jesus as the blood of the covenant.
1. The blood proves the intense earnestness of God in entering into covenant with man in a way of grace.
2. It displayed the supreme love of God to man. Seeing that He entered into a contract of grace with man, He would let man see how His very heart went forth with every word of promise; and, therefore, He gave up that which was the centre of His heart, namely, Jesus Christ.
3. The blood of the covenant, next, speaks to us and confirms the Divine faithfulness. The main object of thus sealing the covenant with blood is to cause it to be "ordered in all things and sure."
4. The blood of the everlasting covenant is a guarantee to us of its infinite provision. There can be nothing lacking for a soul redeemed by Christ between here and heaven; for He that spared not His own Son, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?
5. This blood manifests the depth of the need which the covenant was meant to meet.
II. Now, I take our translators' own words — "THIS IS THE BLOOD OF THE TESTAMENT."
1. Jesus Christ has made a will, and He has left to His people large legacies by that will. Now, wills do not need to be sprinkled with blood, but wills do need that the testator should be dead, otherwise they are not of force. And so, first of all, the blood of Jesus Christ on Calvary is the blood of the testament, because it is a proof that He is dead, and therefore the testament is in force. If Jesus did not die, then the gospel is null and void. not without the sprinkled blood does the promise of salvation become yea and amen.
2. It is the blood of the testament, again, because it is the seal of His being seized and possessed of those goods which He has bequeathed to us: for, apart from His sacrifice, our Lord had no spiritual blessings to present to us. His death has filled the treasury of His grace.
3. The blood of the testament, again, is a direction as to His legatees. We see who are benefited under His will. He must have left them to the guilty because He has left a will that is signed and sealed in blood, and blood is for the remission of sin.
III. But now I must speak upon that blood from another point of view. IT WAS THE BLOOD OF CLEANSING. This blood of the covenant and of the testament is a blood of purification to us. Wherever it is accepted by faith it takes away all past guilt. And this is but the beginning of our purification, for that same blood applied by faith takes away from the pardoned sinner the impurity which had been generated in his nature by habit. He ceases to love the sin which ,once he delighted in: he begins to loathe that which was formerly his choice joy. A love of purity is born within his nature; he sighs to be perfect, and he groans to think there should be about him tendencies towards evil. Temptations which once were welcomed are now resisted; baits which were once most fascinating are an annoyance to his spirit. The precious blood when it touches the conscience removes all sense of guilt, and when it touches the heart it kills the ruling power of sin. The more fully the power of the blood is felt, the more does it kill the power of sin within the soul.
IV. And then it is THE BLOOD OF DEDICATION. On the day when Moses sprinkled the blood of the covenant on the people, and on the book, it was meant to signify that they were a chosen people set apart unto God's service. The blood made them holiness unto the Lord. Now, unless the blood is upon you, you are not saved; but if you are saved you are by that very fact set apart to be God's servant. "Ye are not your own, ye are bought with a price." "Ye were not redeemed with corruptible things as with silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Christ." A saved man is a bought man; the property of Jesus.
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
1. That was the blood of goats and heifers; this of Christ the immaculate Lamb of God.
2. Moses was the sprinkler of that blood: the Holy Ghost is the sprinkler of this.
3. That was sprinkled on the face or garments of the people: this on our hearts and consciences.
4. The aspertorium, the sprinkling stick, there was made of purple wool and hyssop: the aspertorium here is faith. With that doth the Spirit of God sprinkle on us the blood of Christ.
5. That sprinkling did but sanctify the outward man: this the hid man of the heart.
6. The force and power of that sprinkling lasted but a while: the efficacy of this sprinkling continueth for ever. Therefore let us all be desirous of this sprinkling.
(W. Jones, D. D.)
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