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as by many and sundry reasonings in other places of the epistle, so by a double testimony in this twelfth chapter, making that inference from them both, which you have ver. 25. See that you refuse not him that speaketh : for if they escaped not who refused him who spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him who speaketh from heaven.'
Now the first testimony of his power is taken from a record of what he did heretofore ;, the other from a prediction of what he will do hereafter.
The first you have, ver. 26. in the first part of it: 'His voice then shook the earth :' then, that is, when the law was delivered by him, as it is described, ver. 18—20. foregoing. When the mountain upon which it was delivered, the mediator Moses, into whose hand it was delivered, and the people for whose use it was delivered, did all shake and trenuble at the voice, power, and presence of Christ;e who, as it hence appears, is that Jehovah who gave the law; Exod. xx. 2.
The other in the same verse is taken from a prediction out of Haggai ii. 16. of what he will do hereafter; even demonstrate and make evident his power, beyond whatever he before effected : “He hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also the heavens.'
And if any one shall ask, wherein this effect of the mighty power of the Lord Jesus consisteth, and how from thence professors may be prevailed upon to keep close to the obedience of himn in his kingdom? The apostle answers, ver. 27. • And this word yet once more, signifies the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.'
And thus am I stepped down upon the words of my text, finding them in the close of the arguments drawn from the power of Christ, to persuade professors to constancy in the paths of the gospel : and having passed through their coherence, and held out their aim and tendance, their opening and application comes now to be considered. And herein these three things:
• Exod. xix 18, 19. xx. 18.
1. The apostle's assertion : The things that are shaken shall be removed, as things that are made.'
II. The proof of this assertion : This word, once more, signifieth no less.'
III. His inference from this assertion thus proved: “The things that cannot be shaken must remain.'
I. In the first I shall consider,
1. For the first, there is a great variety of judgment amongst interpreters. The foregoing verse tells us it is ‘not only the earth, but the heaven also :' but now what heaven and earth this should be is dubious, is not apparent. So many different apprehensions of the mind of God in these words, as have any likeness of truth, I must needs recount and remove, that no prejudice may remain from other conceptions, against that which from them we shall assert.
(1.) The earth, say some, is the men of the earth, living thereon; and the heavens are the angels, their blessed inhabitants : both shaken, or stricken with amazement upon the nativity of Christ, and preaching of the gospel. The heavens were shaken, when so great things were accomplished, as that the angels themselves desired to look into them ;' 1 Pet. i. 12. And the earth was filled with amazement when the Holy Ghost being poured out upon the apostles for the preaching of the gospel, men of every nation under heaven were amazed, and marvelled at it. Acts ï.5 7. Thus Rollocus, Piscator, and sundry other famous divines. But,
[1.] The shaking here intimated by the apostle, was then when he wrote under the promise, not actually accomplished, as were the things by them recounted : for he holds it forth as an issue of that great power of Christ, which he would one day exercise for the farther establishment of his kingdom.
[2.] This that now is to be done must excel that which formerly was done at the giving of the law, as is clearly intimated in the inference: Then he shook the earth, but
Nescio an facilior hic locus fuisset, si nemo eum opposuisset. Mald. ad Luc. ii. 54.
now the heavens also.' It is a gradation to a higher demonstration of the power of Christ, which that the things of this interpretation are, is not apparent.
[3.] It is marvellous these learned men observed not, that the heavens and the earth shaken,' ver. 26. are the things to be removed;' ver. 27. Now how are angels and men removed by Christ? Are they not rather gathered up into one spiritual body and communion ? Hence, ver. 27. they interpret the shaken things to be Judaical ceremonies, which, ver. 26. they had said to be men and angels.
(2.) Others by heaven and earth understand the material parts of the world's fabric, commonly so called : and by their shaking, those portentous signs and prodigies, with earthquakes, which appeared in them at the birth and death of the Lord Jesus. A new star, preternatural darkness, shaking of the earth, opening of graves, renting of rocks, and the like, are to them this shaking of heaven and earth. So Junius, and after him most of ours. But this interpretation is obnoxious to the same exceptions with the former, and also others: For,
[1.] These things being past before, how can they be held out under a promise ?
[2.] How are these shaken things removed, which with their shaking they must certainly be, as in my text?
[3.] This shaking of heaven and earth is ascribed to the power of Christ as mediator, whereunto these signs and prodigies cannot rationally be assigned ; but rather to the sovereignty of the Father, bearing witness to the nativity and death of his Son: so that neither can this conception be fastened on the words.
(3.) The fabric of heaven and earth is by others also intended, not in respect of the signs and prodigies formerly wrought in them; but of that dissolution, or as they suppose alteration, which they shall receive at the last day. So Paræus, Grotius, and many more. Now though these avoid the rock of holding out as accomplished what is only promised, yet this gloss also is a dress disfiguring the mind of God in the text. For,
ε Ephes. i. 10. Ανακεφαλαιώσασθαι, i.e. μίαν κεφαλήν παρασχεϊν αγγέλοις και ανθρώποις τον Χριστόν απεσκισμένοι γαρ ήσαν οι αγγέλοι και άνθρωποι. (Ecumen. in Loς.
b Matt. ii. 2. xxvii. 45. Luke xxiii. 44, 45. Matt. xxvii. 51, 52. Το γας βλέπει τις, τί και ελπίζει, Rom. viii. 94.
[1.] The things here said to be shaken, do stand in a plain opposition to the things that cannot be shaken nor removed ; and therefore they are to be removed, that these may be brought in. Now the things to be brought in, are the things of the kingdom of the Lord Jesus. What opposition, I pray, do the material fabric of heaven and earth stand in to the kingdom of the Lord Jesus ? doubtless none at all, being the proper seat of that kingdom.
[2.] There will on this ground be no bringing in of the kingdom of the Lord Jesus, until indeed that kingdom in the sense here insisted on is to cease; that is, after the day of judgment, when the kingdom of grace shall have place no
Those are the most material and likely mistakes about thie words. I could easily give out, and pluck in again three or four other warping senses, but I hope few in these days of accomplishing will once stumble at them.
(4.) The true mind of the spirit, by the help of that spirit of truth, comes next to be unfolded. And first, what are the things that are shaken?
[1.] As the apostle here applies a part of the prophecy of Haggai, so that prophecy even in the next words gives light into the meaning of the apostle. Look what heaven and earth the prophet speaks of, of those and no other speaks the apostle. The Spirit of God in the Scripture is his own best interpreter. See then the order of the words as they lie in the prophet: Hag. ii. 6, 7. 'I will shake heaven and earth: I will shake all nations.' God then shakes heaven and earth, when he shakes all nations; that is, he shakes the heaven and earth of the nations. I will shake heaven and earth, and I will shake all nations,' is a pleonasm, for • I will shake the heaven and earth of all nations. These are the things shaken in my text.
The heavens of the nations, what are they? even their political heights and glory, those forms of government which they have framed for themselves and their own interest, with the grandeur and lustre of their dominions. The nations' earth is the multitudes of their people, their strength and power, whereby their heavens, or political heights, are supported. It is then neither the material heavens and earth, nor yet Mosaical ordinances; but the political heights and splendour, the popular multitudes and strength of the nations of the earth, that are thus to be shaken, as shall be proved.
* Nunquam Pauli sensum ingredieris, nisi Pauli Spiritum imbiberis. Ber. Ser. de Monte. Το αυτο χρίσμα διδάσκει υμάς περί πάντων. 1 Jolm ii. 27. 'Εν πνεύματι αγίου νοούμεναι και ανοιγόμεναι αι γραφαί δεκνύουσιν ημίν τον Χριστόν, είκότως θυρωρός το πνεύμα Tè öylor. Theophylac. in John X.
That the earth in prophetical descriptions or predictions of things is frequently, yea almost always, taken for the people and multitudes of the earth, needs not much proving. One or two instances shall suffice. Rev. xii. 16. “The earth helped the woman against the flood of the dragon,' which that it was the multitudes of earthly people, none doubts. That an earthquake, or shaking of the earth, are popular commotions, is no less evident from Rev. xi. 13. where by an earthquake great Babylon receives a fatal blow. And for the heavens, whether they be the political heights of the nations, or the grandeur of potentates, let the Scripture be judge; I mean, when used in this sense of shaking, or establishment. Isa. li. 15, 16. 'I am the Lord thy God who divided the sea, whose waves roared : the Lord of hosts is his name.
And I have put my words in thy mouth, and have covered thee in the shadow of mine hand, that I may plant the heavens and lay the foundations of the earth, and say unto Zion, Thou art my people. By a repetition of what he hath done, he establisheth his people in expectation of what he will do. And,
Ist. He minds them of that wonderful deliverance from an army behind them, and an ocean before them, by his miraculous preparing dry paths for them in the deep: ‘I am the Lord who divided the sea, whose waves roared.'
2dly. Of his gracious acquainting them with his mind, his law, and ordinances at Horeb. 'I have put,' saith he, 'my words in thy mouth.'
3dly. Of that favourable and singular protection afforded them in the wilderness, when they were encompassed with enemies round about: 'I covered thee in the shadow of mine hand.'
Now to what end was all this? Why, saith he, that I might plant the heavens, and lay the foundation of the earth. What, of these material visible heavens and earth? Two thousand four hundred and sixty years before at least
* Psal. lxvii. 8. Hab. jj. 20. Matt. xxiv. 7. 1 Sam. vir. 95.