a ISRAEL AN ADULTERESS.
The allegory which runs through this chapter is by no means an unusual one in the Prophets. The beginning of Ezekiel 16:3 has occasioned some variety of remark. OEcolampadius takes
b CAPTIVE ISRAEL AND PAPAL ROME.
In commenting on this verse, Calvin draws a striking comparison between the Jews of Ezekiel's day and the Romanists of his own. And as the controversy with Rome is at present a subject of absorbing interest, it is very important to ascertain the exact views of the Reformers as to that giant apostacy. The parallel between them seems to our Reformer most complete. He allows both to be true Churchs, while he condemns them as breakers of God's covenant. Both Israel and the Papacy are still said to be under covenant with God; so, had "our baptism requires no renewal" (Ezekiel 16:20,) yet still the devil reigns in the Papacy without quite extinguishing God's grace. The Church is there amidst all its corruptions; otherwise Antichrist could not sit in God's temple. The papal priests are said to imitate the Jewish in all things, even to the material of which the surplice is made. The priests of Rome are called "papales sacrifici" -- the language of the Realists; which is erroneous, bee,, use it admits too much. It asserts that they offer sacrifice: the Protestant denies the fact, and disallows the term. In the controversy with Rome, we should be more careful than even Calvin in the terms we employ. To allow the analogy here pointed out, is to allow too much. While we assert, that the pretense to sacrificial functions is a gross imposture, we must the same time refuse their claim to be acknowledged as priests. We must instantly erect the standard of nominalism, showing that there is but one high Priest, but one sacrifice, and one altar in the religion of Christ. This is real -- all the rest mere accommodation. On this ground, too, Calvin's view of the covenant actually remaining among them, and of their being such a temple that Antichrist can be seated therein, Hs very questionable. It is necessary that the reader should see the consequences of allowing too much to the advocates of the papacy: there are many reasons, on which we cannot enter here, for believing that St. Paul did not refer in any way to Papal Rome by the phrase, "the temple of God '" and if this be conceded, then Calvin's argument concerning Antichrist falls to the ground. It is very important to be aware of the tinge which the theological language of the sixteenth century gave to all the writings of that stirring age.
g ON THE WORD "NEPHESH," SOUL.
Calvin expresses himself rather hastily when he says (Ezekiel 16:27,) this word
d THE PRIMITIVE CHURCH AND THE NEW TESTAMENT.
It is worthy of notice, that in Calvin's time, as in our own, appeals were frequently made to the teaching of "the primitive Church." The Reformers were especially anxious to ascertain what the primitive Church really taught, and to compare it with Holy Scripture they did not repose implicitly on its dicta, because they looked upon the phrase as an idea rather than a reality. Here again the necessary collision between realism and nominalism arises. There is no such thing as the primitive Church in the sense in which it was used in Calvin's day, and has been revived in our own. The words stand for an abstract idea, comprehending many single churches, and stating what is held to be common to all. For instance, the Church at Antioch was in reality the primitive Gentile Church; its doctrines, discipline, and worship, were realities, and, could they be ascertained accurately, would present to our minds a destined and definite object; but any representation of doctrines and ceremonies said to be common to many Churches, and thus spoken of as appertaining to the primitive Church, is a mental deduction after the process of selection and assortment has been carried on. We have to guard against the erroneous view of the Realist, lest we should look to the primitive Church "to reveal what is to be believed, rather than to teach what has been revealed." See an admirable letter of the Archbishop of Canterbury to Rev. W. Maskell.
Although Calvin's language throughout this chapter is precise and correct, yet he inadvertently falls now and then into that of the earliest. On Ezekiel 16:29 he uses the phrase "guttam pietatis in animis" -- the erroneous language of his Romanist adversaries. Piety, he knew well enough, was not a thing infused into man -- righteousness infused is the doctrine of realism -- righteousness imputed is nominalism: the former has of late been revived and systematized by Newman and Ward; while the latter has the inspired sanction of the Pauline Epistles. In his comments on this verse, our Reformer uses the word "testament" and "covenant" for the same idea. It is better to avoid this partial confusion. The word "testamentum" should properly be applied to the record, which informs us of the "foedus." Grotius has expressed the difference accurately. with him "testamentum" is equivalent to "libri feoderis," and, as accuracy in theological expressions is most desirable, it is wiser to translate diaqh>kh in every instance by "covenant," and to confine the word testament most strictly to the written record. This will aid us in keeping before our minds the covenant between the Almighty and his living Church; we shall appreciate our position as children of the New Covenant, and avoid the error of regarding the Old Testament., with it's laws, and ceremonies, and sacrifices, as binding upon us, who are no longer "children of the bond woman, but of the free."
Back to BibleStudyGuide.org.
These files are public domain. This electronic edition was downloaded from the Christian Classics Ethereal Library.