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15And the Holy Spirit also testifies to us, for after saying,
15. The Holy Ghost also is a witness, etc. 168168 “Now testify to us does also the Holy Spirit;” such may be the rendering of the words. The δὲ is translated “And,” by Macknight, and “Morever,” by Stuart, but “Now” seems the most suitable. — Ed This testimony from Jeremiah is not adduced the second time without reason or superfluously. He quoted it before for a different purpose, even to show that it was necessary for the Old Testament to be abrogated, because another, a new one, had been promised, and for this end, to amend the weakness of the old. 169169 The quotation as made here affords a remarkable instance of what Calvin has previously said, that the Apostles were not very scrupulous in the use of words, but attended to the meaning. The words have been before quoted in chapter 8:10-12. There we have “into their mind — καρδίας,” here, “into their minds — διανοιῶν;” and in the 12th verse in chapter 8, and the 17th in this chapter, are in words wholly different, though in meaning essentially the same. We need not wonder then that there is sometimes a variety in quotations made from the Old Testament, since the Apostle varies in a quotation when given the second time by himself. — Ed But he has now another thing in view; for he takes his stand on these words alone, Their iniquities will I remember no more; and hence he concludes, that there is no more need of a sacrifice since sins are blotted out. 170170 This quotation clearly shows the meaning of the word “sanctified.” The sanctified, or those atoned for, or expiated, were made perfect by having their sins perfectly and completely forgiven them. The sufficiently of Christ’s sacrifice for taking away sins, for a full and complete remission, is the subject throughout, and not the effect of that sacrifice in the work of sanctification. The chapter begins with sins as to the conscience; and here the words of Jeremiah are referred to, not for the purpose of showing that the new covenant provides for the renovation of the heart, (though it includes that too.) but of proving that it secures the free and full remission of sins, procured, as stated before, by the one sacrifice of Christ, once offered and perpetually efficacious. — Ed.
This inference may indeed seem not to be well founded; for though formerly there were innumerable promises as to the remission of sins under the Law and in the prophets, yet the Church ceased not to offer sacrifices; hence remission of sins does not exclude sacrifices. But if you consider each particular more closely, you will find that the fathers also had the same promises as to the remission of sins, under the Law, as we have at this day; relying on them, they called on God, and rejoiced in the pardon they obtained. And yet the Prophet, as though he had adduced something new and unheard of before, promises that there would be no remembrance of sins before God under the new covenant. Hence we may conclude, that sins are now remitted in a way different from what they were formerly; but this difference is not in the promise, nor in faith, but in the very price by which remissions is procured. God then does not now remember sins, because an expiation has been made once for all; otherwise what is said by the Prophet would have been to no purpose, that the benefit of the New Testament was to be this — that God would no more remember sins.
Now, since we have come to the close of the discussion respecting the priesthood of Christ, readers must be brief reminded, that the sacrifices of the Law are not more effectually proved here to have been abolished, than the sacrifice of the mass practiced by the Papists is proved to be a vain fiction.
They maintain that their mass is a sacrifice for expiating the sins of the living and of the dead; but the Apostle denies that there is now any place for a sacrifice, even since the time in which the prophecy of Jeremiah has been fulfilled.
They try to make an evasion by saying, that it is not a new sacrifice, or different from that of Christ, but the same; on the contrary, the Apostle contends that the same sacrifice ought not to be repeated, and declares that Christ’s sacrifice is only one, and that it was offered for all; and, further, he often claims for Christ alone the honor of being a priest, so that no one was fit to offer him but himself alone.
The Papists have another evasion, and call their sacrifice bloodless; but the Apostle affirms it as a truth without exception, that death is necessary in order to make a sacrifice.
The Papists attempt to evade again by saying, that the mass is the application of the one sacrifice which Christ has made; but the Apostle teaches us on the contrary, that the sacrifices of the Law were abolished by Christ’s death for this reason, because in them a remembrance of sins was made; it hence appears evident, that this kind of application which they have devised has ceased.
In short, let the Papists twist themselves into any forms they please, they can never escape from the plain arguments of the Apostle, by which it appears clear that their mass abounds in impieties; for first, according to the Apostle’s testimony, Christ alone was fit to offer himself; in the mass he is offered by other hands; — secondly, the Apostle asserts that Christ’s sacrifice was not only one, but was also once offered, so that it is impious to repeat it; but in the mass, however they may prate about the sacrifice, yet it is evidently made every day, and they themselves confess it; — thirdly, the Apostle acknowledges no sacrifice without blood and death; they then chatter in vain, that the sacrifice they offer is bloodless; — fourthly, the Apostle in speaking of obtaining pardon for sins, bids us to flee to that one sacrifice which Christ offered on the cross, and makes this distinction between us and the fathers, that the rite of continually sacrificing was done away by the coming of Christ; but the Papists, in order to make the death of Christ efficacious, require daily applications by means of a sacrifice; so that they calling themselves Christians, differ nothing from the Jews except in the external symbol.