it might be so sprinkled. But there was a sprinkling whereunto a
greater proportion of blood was required; as namely, when a house
was to be sprinkled and thereby purified ; this was done by mixing
running water with the blood, and then sprinkling it with scarlet-wool,
and hyssop, Lev. xiv. 50 â€” 52. For these things were needful there-
unto. The water prevented the blood from being so congealed, as that
it could not be sprinkled in any quantity. The scarlet wool took up a
quantity of it, out of the vessel wherein it was ; and the bunch of
hyssop was the sprinkler. Whereupon when Moses sprinkled the altar,
book, and people, he did it by one of these two ways ; for other there
was none. The first way he could not do it, namely, with his finger,
because it was to be done in a great quantity. For Moses took that
half of it that was to be sprinkled on the people and put it into basons,
Exod. xxiv. 6 â€” 8. Jt was therefore infallibly done this latter way,
according- as our apostle declares.
Thirdly. It is added by the apostle, that he sprinkled the book, which
is not expressed in the story. But the design of the apostle is to
express at large the whole solemnity of the confirmation of the first
covenant, especially, not to omit any thing that blood was applied unto ;
because in the application he refers the purification and dedication of
all things belonging unto the new covenant, unto the blood of Christ.
And this was the order of the things which concerned the book. Moses
coming down from the mount, told the people by word of mouth, all
things which God had spoken unto him, or the sum and substance of
the covenant, which he would make with them, Exod. xxiv. 3. And
Moses came and told the people all the words of the Lord ; that is,
the words spoken on Mount Sinai, the ten commandments, and all the
judgments of the Lord, that is, all the laws contained in ch. xxi â€” xxiii.
with this title, tFttDtSJTan tthn, 'These are the judgments,' ch. xxi. 1.
Upon the oral rehearsal of these words and judgments, the people gave
their consent unto the terms of the covenant. The people answered
with one voice, ' All the words which the Lord hath said we will do,'
Exod. xxiv. 3. Hereon Moses made a record, or wrote all the words
of the Lord in a book, ver. 4. This being done, the altar and pillars were
prepared, ver. 4. And it is evident that the book which he had written,
was laid on the altar, though it be not expressed. When this was
done, he sprinkled the blood on the altar, ver. 6. After which, when
the book had been sprinkled with blood as it lay on the altar, it is said,
he took the book, that is, off from the altar, and read in the audience
of the people, ver. 7. The book being now sprinkled with blood, as the
instrument and record of the covenant between God and the people,
the very same words which were before spoken unto the people are
148 AN EXPOSITION OF THE [cH. IX.
now recited or read out of the book. And this could be done for no
other reason, but that the book itself being now sprinkled with the
blood of the covenant, it was dedicated to be the sacred record thereof.
Fourthly. In the text of Moses it is said that he sprinkled the
people ; in explanation whereof the apostle affirms that he ' sprinkled
all the people.' And it was necessary that so it should be, and that
none of them should be excluded from this sprinkling. For they were
all taken into covenant with God, men, women, and children. But it
must be granted, that for the blood to be actually sprinkled on all in-
dividuals in such a numberless multitude, is next unto what is naturally
impossible ; wherefore it was done in their representatives ; and what
is done towards representatives as such, is done equally towards all
whom they do represent. And the whole people, had two representa-
tives that day. 1. The twelve pillars of stone that were set up to re-
present their twelve tribes, and, it may be, to signify their hard and
stony heart under that covenant, ver. 4. Whereas those pillars were
placed close by the altar, some suppose that they were sprinkled as
representing the twelve tribes. 2. There were the heads of their tribes
the chief of the house of their fathers, and the elders, who drew nigh
unto Moses, and were sprinkled with blood, in the name and place of
all the people, who were that day taken into covenant.
Fifthly. The words which Moses spake unto the people upon the
sprinkling of the blood, are not absolutely the same in the story, and
in the repetition of it by the apostle. But this is usual with him in all
his quotations out of the Old Testament in this Epistle. He expresseth
the true sense of them, but doth not curiously and precisely render the
sense of every word and syllable in them.
Sixthly. The last difficulty in this context, and that which hath an
appearance of the greatest, is in what the apostle affirms concerning the
tabernacle and all the vessels of it ; namely, that Moses sprinkled
them all with blood. And the time which he seems to speak of, is that
of the dedication of the first covenant. Hence a twofold difficulty
doth arise; First. As to the time; and Secondly. As to the thing
itself. For at the time of dedication of the first covenant, the taber-
nacle was not yet made or erected, and so could not then be sprinkled
with blood. And afterwards when the tabernacle was erected, and all
the vessels brought into it, there is no mention that either it or any of
them were sprinkled with blood, but only anointed with the holy oil,
Exod. xl. 9 â€” 11. Wherefore, as unto the first, I say, the apostle doth
plainly distinguish what he affirms of the tabernacle, from the time of
the dedication of the first covenant.
The manner of his introduction of it, kui ttjv ctki?vj]v Se, ' and more-
over the tabernacle,' doth plainly intimate a progress unto another time
and occasion. Wherefore the words of ver. 21, concerning the sprink-
ling of the tabernacle and its vessels, do relate unto what follows, ver.
22, ' and almost all things are by the law purged with blood ;' and not
unto those that precede about the dedication of the first covenant.
For the argument he hath in hand is not confined unto the use of
blood only in that dedication, but respects the whole use of the blood
VER. 18 â€” 22.~\ EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS. 149
of sacrifices under the law ; which in these words he proceeds unto,
and closeth in the next verse. And this wholly removes the first diffi-
culty. And as unto the second, expositors generally answer, that
aspersion or sprinkling with blood, did commonly precede unction
with the holy oil. And as to the garments of the priests, which were
the vessels or utensils of the tabernacle, it was appointed that they
should be sprinkled with blood, Exod. xxix. 21, and so it may be sup-
posed that the residue of them were also. But to me this is not satis-
factory. And be it spoken without offence, expositors have generally
mistaken the nature of the argument of the apostle in these words.
For he argues not from the first dedication of the tabernacle and its
vessels, which, for aught that appears, was by unction only ; but making,
as we observed betore, a progress unto the farther use of the blood of
sacrifices in purging according to the law, he giveth an instance in
what was done with respect unto the tabernacle and all its vessels, and
that constantly and solemnly every year ; and this he doth to prove his
general assertion in the next verse, that under the law almost all
things were purged with blood. And Moses is here said to do what
he appointed should be done. By his institution, that is, the institu-
tion of the law, the tabernacle, and all the vessels of it, were sprinkled
with blood. And this was done solemnly once every year ; an account
whereof is given, Lev. xvi. 14 â€” 20. On the solemn day of atonement,
the high priest was to sprinkle the mercy-seat, the altar, and the whole
tabernacle with blood, to make an atonement for them, because of the
uncleannesses of the children of Israel, the tabernacle remaining among
them in the midst of their uncleannesses, ver. 16. This he takes
notice of, not to prove the dedication of the first covenant with what
belonged thereunto with blood, but the use of blood in general to make
atonement, and the impossibility of expiation and pardon without it.
This is the design and sense of the apostle, and no other. Wherefore
we may conclude, that the account here given, concerning the dedica-
tion of the first covenant, and the use of blood for purification under
the law, is so far from containing any thing opposite unto, or discre-
pant from, the records of Moses concerning the same things, that it
gives us a full and clear exposition of them.
Secondly. The second thing to be considered, is the nature of the
argument in this context; and there are three things in it, neither of
which must be omitted in the exposition of the words.
He designed), 1. To prove yet farther the necessity of the death of
Christ, as he was the mediator of the new testament, both as it had the
nature of a testament, and that also of a solemn covenant.
2. To declare the necessity of the kind of his death, in the way of
a sacrifice by the effusion of blood ; because the testament, as it had
the nature of a solemn covenant, was confirmed and ratified thereby.
S. To manifest the necessity of shedding of blood in the confirmation
of the covenant, because of the expiation, purging, and pardon of sin
thereby. How these things are proved, we shall see in the exposition
of the words.
Thirdly. There are in the words themselves,
150 AN EXPOSITION OF THE [CH IX.
1. A proposition of the principal truth asserted, ver. 18.
2. The confirmation of that proposition; which is twofold, 1. From
what Moses did, ver. 19. 2. From what he said, ver. 20.
3. A farther illustration of the same truth, by other instances,
4. A general inference or conclusion from the whole, comprising the
substance of what he intended to demonstrate.
In the proposition, there are five things considerable; 1. A note of
introduction, 'whereupon.' 2. The quality of the proposition, it is
negative, ' neither was.' 3. The subject spoken of, ' the first.' 4.
What is affirmed of it, it was ' dedicated.' 5. The way and manner
thereof, ' it was not without blood.'
First. The note of introduction is in the particle 66tv, which the
apostle frequently makes use of in this Epistle, as a note of inference in
those, discourses which are argumentative. We render it by ' there-
fore,' and ' wherefore ;' here, ' whereupon.' For it intimates a con-
firmation of a general rule by especial instances. He had before laid
it down as a general maxim, that a testament was to be confirmed by
death. For thereupon the first testament was confirmed with the blood
of sacrifices shed in their death. Wherefore, let not any think strange
that the new testament was confirmed by the death of the testator ; for
this is so necessary, that even in the confirmation of the first, there was
that which was analogous unto it. And moreover, it was death in such
a way, as was required unto the confirmation of a solemn covenant.
Secondly. The proposition hath a double negative in it, ovSe and
X<*)pic cu/j.aTog, ' neither was it without blood ;' that is, it was with
blood, and could not otherwise be.
Thirdly. The subject spoken of is ?j wywrt], ' the first,' that is
SiaOiiKri, ' testament,' or covenant. And herein the apostle declares
what he precisely intended by the first or old covenant, whereof he
discoursed at large, ch. viii. It was the covenant made with the peo-
ple at Horeb. For that and no other was dedicated in the way here
described. And to take a brief prospect into this covenant, the things
ensuing may be observed.
1. The matter of it, or the terms of it materially considered, before it
had the formal nature of a covenant. And these were all the things
that were written in the book, before it was laid on the altar, namely,
it was that epitome of the whole law which is contained in chapters
xx. xxi. xxii. xxiii. of Exodus. And other commands and institutions
that were given afterwards, belonged unto this covenant reductively.
The substance of it was contained in the book then written.
2. The manner of the revelation of these terms of the covenant.
Being proposed on the part of God, and the terms of it being entirely
of his choosing and proposal, he was to reveal, declare, and make them
known. And this he did two ways. 1. As unto the foundation and
substance of the whole, in the decalogue. He spake it himself on the
mount, in the way and manner declared, Exod. xix. xx. 2. As unto-
the following judgments, statutes, and rites, directive of their walking
before God, according to the former fundamental rule of the covenant.
VER. 18 â€” 22.] EPISTLE TO THE HEBRFWS. 151
These he declared by revelation unto Moses ; and they are contained
in chapters xxi. xxii. and xxiii.
3. The manner of its proposal ; and this also was twofold. 1. Pre-
paratory. For before the solemn covenanting between God and the
people, Moses declared all the matter of it unto the people, that they
might consider well of it, and whether they would consent to enter
into covenant with God on those terms, whereon they gave their appro-
bation of them. 2. Solemn, in their actual and absolute acceptance of
it, whereby they became obliged throughout their generations. This
was on the reading of it out of the book, after it was sprinkled with the
blood of the covenant on the altar, Exod. xxiv. 7.
4. The author of this covenant was God himself. ' The covenant
which the Lord hath made with you,' Exod. xxiv. 8. And immedi-
ately after, he is thereon called ' the God of Israel,' ver. 20, which is
the first time he was called so; and it was by virtue of this covenant.
And the pledge or token of his presence, as covenanting, was the altar,
the altar of Jehovah ; as there was a representative pledge of the pre-
sence of the people in the twelve pillars or statues.
5. Those with whom this covenant was made, were the people;
that is, all the people, as the apostle speaks, none exempted or ex-
cluded. It was made with the ' men, women, and children,' Deut.
xxxi. \2, even all on whom was the blood of the covenant, as it was on
the women ; or the token of the covenant, as it was on the male chil-
dren in circumcision ; or both, as in all the men of Israel.
(). The manner on the part of the people of entering into covenant
with God, was in two acts before mentioned. 1. In a previous appro-
bation of the matter of it. 2. In a solemn engagement into it. And
this was the foundation of the church of Israel.
This is that covenant, whereof there is afterwards in the Scripture,
such frequent mention, between God and that people, the sole founda-
tion of all especial relation between him and them. For they took the
observance of its terms on themselves, for their posterity in all genera-
tions until the end should be. On their obedience hereunto, or neglect
hereof, depended their life and death in the land of Canaan. No far-
ther did the precepts and promises of it, in itself extend. But whereas
it did not disannul the promise that was made unto Abraham, and con-
firmed with the oath of God, four hundred years before, and had an-
nexed unto it, many institutions and ordinances, prefigurative and sig-
nificant of heavenly things ; the people under it had a right unto, and
directions for the attaining of an eternal inheritance. And something
we may hence observe.
Obs. I. The foundation of a church-state among any people, wherein
God is to be honoured in ordinances of instituted worship, is laid in a
solemn covenant between him and them. â€” So it was with this church
of Israel. Before this, they served God in their families, by virtue of
the promise made unto Abraham; but now, the whfte people were
gathered into a church-state, to -worship him according to the terms,
institutions, and ordinances of the covenant. Nor doth God oblige any
unto instituted worship, but by virtue of a covenant. Unto natural
152 AN EXPOSITION OF THE [CH. IX.
worship and obedience, we are all obliged by virtue of the law of crea-
tion, and what belongs thereunto. And God may, by a mere act of
sovereignty, prescribe unto us the observance of what rites and ordi-
nances in divine service, he pleaseth. But he will have all our obedi-
ence to be voluntary, and all our service to be reasonable. Wherefore,
although the prescription of such rites be an act of sovereign pleasure,
yet God will not oblige us unto the observance of them, but by virtue
of a covenant between him and us, wherein we voluntarily consent unto
and accept of the terms of it, whereby those ordinances of worship are
prescribed unto us. And it will hence follow,
1. That men mistake themselves, when they suppose that they are
interested in a church-state by tradition, custom, or as it were by
chance, they know not how. There is nothing but covenanting with
God, that will instate us in this privilege. Therein we do take upon
ourselves, the observance of all the terms of the new covenant. And
they are of two sorts; 1. Internal and moral, in faith, repentance, and
obedience. 2. Such as concern the external worship of the gospel, in
the ordinances and institutions of it. Without such a covenant for-
mally or virtually made, there can be no church-state. I speak not at
all of any such covenants as men may make, or have made among them-
selves, and with God, upon a mixture of things sacred, civil, and poli-
tical, with such sanctions as they find out, and agree upon among
themselves. For whatever may be the nature, use, or end of such co-
venants, they no way belong unto that concerning which we treat.
For no terms are to be brought hereinto, but such as belong directly to
the obedience and ordinances of the new testament. Nor was there
any thing to be added unto, or taken from the express terms of the old
covenant, whereby the church-state of Israel was constituted. And
this was the entire rule of God's dealing with them. The only ques-
tion concerning them was, whether they had kept the terms of the co-
venant or not. And when the things fell into disorder among them,
as they did frequently, as the sum of God's charge against them was,
that they had broken his covenant ; so the reformation of things at-
tempted by their godly kings before, and others after the captivity, was
by reducing the people to renew this covenant, without any addition,
alteration, or mixture of things of another nature.
2. That so much disorder in the worship of God under the gospel
hath entered into many churches, and that- there is so much negligence
in all sorts of persons about the observance of evangelical institutions,
so little conscientious care about them, or reverence in the use of them,
or benefit received by them ; it is all much from hence that men under-
stand not aright the foundation of that obedience unto God which is re-
quired in them and by them. This indeed is no other but that solemn
covenant between God and the whole church, wherein the church takes
upon itself theni due observance. This renders our obedience in them
and by them noless necessary than any duties of moral obedience what-
ever. But this being not considered as it ought, men have used their
supposed liberty, or rather fallen into great licentiousness in the use of
them, and few have that conscientious regard unto them which it is
their duty to have.
VER. 18 â€” 22.] EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS. 153
Obs. II. Approbation of the terms of the covenant, consent unto
them, and solemn acceptance of them, are required on our part, unto
the establishment of any covenant between God and us, and our parti-
cipation of the benefits of it. â€” Thus solemnly did the people here enter
into covenant with God, whereby a peculiar relation was established
between him and them. The mere proposal of the covenant, and the
terms of it, unto us, which is done in the preaching of the gospel, will
not make us partakers of any of the grace or benefits of it. Yet this is
that which most content themselves withal. It may be, they proceed to
the performance of some of the duties which are required therein ; but
this answers not the design and way of God in dealing with men.
When he hath proposed the terms of his covenant to them, he doth
neither compel them to accept of them, nor will be satisfied with such
an obedience. He requires that on a due consideration of them we do
approve of them, as those which answer his infinite wisdom and good-
ness, and such as are of eternal advantage to us, that they are all equal,
holy, righteous, and good. Hereon he requires that we voluntarily
choose and consent to them, engaging ourselves solemnly to the per-
formance of them all and every one. This is required of us, if we in-
tend any interest in the grace or glory prepared in the new covenant.
Obs. III. It was the way of God from the beginning, to take children
of covenanters into the same covenant with their parents. â€” So he dealt
with this people in the establishment of the first covenant, and he hath
made no alteration herein in the establishment of the second. But we
must proceed with the exposition of the words.
Fourthly. Of this covenant it is affirmed, ov x i0 P 1 ^ afytaroc tyice-
KaivHTTat, that it ' was consecrated with blood ;' or was not dedicated
without blood. Eyk-atvtÂ£w, is solemnly to separate any thing unto a
sacred use. prr, is the same in Hebrew. And it is not the sanction of
the covenant absolutely that the apostle intends in this expression, but
the use of it. The covenant had its sanction, and was confirmed on the
part of God in offering of the sacrifices. In the killing of the beasts,
and offering of their blood, did the ratification of the covenant consist.
This is included and supposed in what is signified by the dedication of
it. But this is not an effect of the shedding and offering of blood, but
only of the sprinkling of it on the book and the people. Thereby had
it its eyKcuvKT/jiog, its ' consecration ' or dedication unto sacred use, as the
instrument of the peculiar church relation between God and that people,
whereof the book was the record. So was every thing consecrated unto
its proper use under the law, as the apostle declares. This, therefore,
is the meaning of the words ; that first covenant which God made with
the people at Mount Sinai, wherein he became their God, the God of
Israel, and they became his people, was dedicated unto sacred use by
blood, in that it was sprinkled on the book and the people, after part
of the same blood had been offered in sacrifice at the altar. Hence it
follows, that this which belongs so essentially unto the solemn confirma-
tion of a covenant between God and the church, was necessary also
unto the dedication and confirmation of the new covenant, which is that
that is to be proved.
Obs. IV. It is by the authority of God alone that any thing can be
154 AN EXPOSITION OF THE [CH. IX.
effectually and unchangeably dedicated unto sacred use, so as to have
force and efficacy given unto it thereby. â€” But this dedication may be
made by virtue of a general rule, as well as by an especial command.
Fifthly. The assertion of the apostle concerning the dedication of the
first covenant with blood, is confirmed by an account of the matter of
fact, or what Moses did therein, ver. 19.
Ver. 19. â€” For when Moses had spoken every precept unto all the
people, according unto the law, he took the blood of calves and of
goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled
both the book and all the people.
There are two things considerable in the words.
1. The person made use of in the dedication of the covenant, which
2. What he did therein ; which is referred unto two heads. 1. His
speaking or reading the terms of the covenant, ' every precept out of
the book.' 2. His sprinkling of the book and people with blood.
First. Moses was the internuntius between God and the people in
this great transaction, viro Mwu
ately called unto this employment, Exod. iii. And on the part of the
people he was chosen and desired by them to transact all things between
God and them, in the making and confirmation of this covenant, be-
cause they were not able to bear the effects of God's immediate pre-
sence, Exod. xix. 19 ; Deut. v. 22 â€” 21. And this choice of a spokes-
man on their part God did approve of, ver. 27. Hence he became, in
a general sense, a fieairng, a 'mediator' between God and men in the