The great and essential distinction between the Jew ish people and the Christian Church, the old election and the new, has already been pointed out. It is found in the relation of the Church to the risen and glorified Lord as His Body. Its members have received His life in regeneration through the Holy Spirit sent by Him at Pentecost. This day was, therefore, the birthday of the Church. The new election began then to be gathered; and this gathering continues through the preaching of the gospel, till the full number is completed, and the way made ready for the next stage of redemption.
Starting from this fundamental distinction, let us compare in some of the more important points these two elections.
1. We notice that the Jewish election was of a nation; the Christian is from all nations. In placing Himself in the relation of King to one nation, Jehovah would manifest Himself to all the nations as the One Supreme and Righteous Ruler. This people under His government was to be His witness to all the world. There was no command given them to make proselytes, and they were not to invade the peoples living outside the borders of the land He had assigned them. It was through this one nation, purified and obedient, that He would be made known and honored in the eyes of all nations.
This kingly relation was in its nature limitpd to one people, and could not be universal without destroying the end for which it was established. But the time had now come when Jehovah would manifest Himself to the world as the God and Father of all men, and the Messiah as the Saviour of all. Therefore, in this second election He no longer regarded the distinctions of races or of peoples. Wherever the children of Adam were found, there should the gospel of the cross and of the resurrection be preached, that all might partake of the life of the Risen One, the second Adam. As He had made atonement for the sins of the whole world, the Church was to be composed of all believers, without distinction of Jew or Gentile, bond or free.
Thus, this new election is God's witness to the world that He is the God and Father of all. He could not be revealed as Father till His Son became Incarnate, nor the Son be revealed as universal Saviour till He had been set as Head of the universal Church. A gospel preached to every creature is the proof that the love of God in sending His Son embraced all; that His Son died for all; and that all may by regeneration be made partakers of the new and heavenly life.
2. We notice that there is a higher knowledge of God, and therefore a deeper sense of sin, in the Christian than in the Jewish Church. The knowledge of sin, what it is, and its evil nature, must come through God's manifestation of Himself to men. As they learn to know Him in His holiness, and in all His Divine perfections, they become more and more sensible of their sinfulness and guilt. The Jews had a partial knowledge of Him through His special relations to them, His dwelling among them, and through the law He gave them. (Lev. xi. 44; Rom. iii. 20.) What sense of sin was thus wrought in the hearts of the more faithful is shown in the confessions found in the Psalms and elsewhere. (Ps. xxxviii., li.; Job xl. 4, xlii. 5, 6.) But through the Incarnate Son, there was both a higher knowledge of God given than was possible before, and a clearer expression of His holiness. As being in Christ, and so having access to the Father, we learn to know ourselves as having a fallen and corrupt nature; to abhor all evil, and to seek remission and cleansing. They who lived before the holiness of God and His righteousness were revealed in Jesus Christ, could not know the full measure of the holiness and righteousness God demands of His children. (John xv. 24.) In Him — "God manifest in flesh" — could now be seen the perfectly pure and righteous and holy One. Therefore, that men may see sin as it is, its full guilt and pollution, they must know Christ and be in Him; and so come into communion with God. Thus, as those in Christ, Christians could have a deeper sense of sin, a higher apprehension of God's claims upon them, a clearer knowledge of the Divine purpose, and yield a truer obedience to His will, the obedience of love; than was possible to the Jews before Christ through the rites and precepts of the law. 3. "We notice that the spiritual standing of the Church is far higher than that of the Jewish people; and, therefore, all its ordinances, its worship and priesthood have a far higher character. This follows from the fact that it is the body of Christ, and the temple of the Holy Ghost. We are told by the evangelist that "the Holy Ghost was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified." (John vii. 39.) He must be glorified before He could receive and send down the Holy Ghost. (Acts ii. 33.) When, through resurrection and ascension, humanity had in Him attained its perfected condition, then did He begin to make men partakers of His life. To be "in Him," "branches in the Vine," through the regenerating power of the Spirit, is the highest spiritual condition possible, till the work of redemption is completed and the glory of the Kingdom is attained.
The ordinances and ministries of the two elections were correspondent to their differing spiritual conditions. The Jews had circumcision as the initial rite, which was a sign of the renunciation of the life of the flesh, a confession of the sinfulness of the natural man. (Col. ii. 11.) The Church has baptism into Christ, — into His death that we may die unto sin, into His resurrection that we may walk in newness of life. (Rom. vi.) The blood of bulls and goats for the purifying of the flesh, has given place to the blood of Christ that purifies the conscience from dead works to serve the living God. (Heb. ix. 12, etc.) The "bread of the presence" has given place to the "bread of life." The high priest who entered with incense once a year into the most holy, has given place to the risen and immortal Priest who has "gone into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us."
The Jews had the pattern of heavenly things, but the Church has the heavenly things themselves. Through the headship of the Son, and the sending of the Holy Ghost, the shadows of the law were made the realities of the body of Christ. Therefore it is that where before were but symbols and types, all pointing to the future, now are sacraments, — channels of present grace. Everywhere in the Church, in every ordinance and appointment of God, there is life; nothing is empty and formal. The Spirit of Christ is everywhere, quickening the word spoken, and making it effectual to whatever purpose it may be uttered, whether to convince of sin, to cleanse, to enlighten, to consecrate, or to bless. The worship of the Church is, therefore, "worship in Spirit and in truth," — in the Spirit who came at Pentecost; in the truth, the perfect reality of which all Jewish rites were but types.
As the Sacrifice of Christ was for all, so is His present Priesthood. His Church is, therefore, a house of prayer for all in the earth. This was prophetically declared of the Jewish temple, and will have its fulfillment when the elect nation shall be brought into its right relations to the nations. (Isa. lvi. 7.) But in Him, the Great High Priest who has passed into the heavens, the sorrows and needs of universal humanity now find their perfect expression. As the Son of man, who knows all that is in the heart of man, and who through His own experience of suffering is "touched with the feeling of our infirmities," all men may go unto Him with assurance of pity and sympathy. And through the Holy Spirit sent by Him, and dwelling in the Church, He kindles in the hearts of His own children the same pity and sympathy for all, which find continual utterance in their prayers and intercessions. Thus, through His body by which He acts and speaks, is His Priesthood in the heavens carried on in the earth, and made real, universal, and never-ceasing. Hence, the Christian Church is called in higher degree than the Jewish, to continual prayer and worship. Not only is it to begin and end each day with holy services as did the Jews, but also to present before God continually the memorial of the sacrifice of His Son, which is the basis of all acceptable worship. Not upon one altar only, but in every place where believers are found, incense and a pure offering are to be offered in His name.
4. We notice the differing forms and degrees of miraculous powers under the Theocracy and in the Church. Dealing with the Jews as a nation, under a national covenant, the miraculous interpositions of Jehovah were of a corresponding nature. The land chosen by Him for them was distinguished from other lands in that it was not to be subjected to those evils of drought, barrenness, earthquake, plague, and famine, to which other lands were exposed. If these took place, it was as penalties, inflictions of Divine justice upon its inhabitants because of their transgressions of the covenant. And they touched the whole people, not individuals merely. Of Divine interpositions for the blessing of individuals, special cases of healing, deliverances from danger, there are, indeed, scattered instances in their history; and there were also punishments upon individuals specially inflicted; and the sin of one might bring judgments upon all, as in the cases of Achan and David. But as Jehovah's relation to the Jews was national, so were the blessings promised them and the judgments threatened. He looked upon them in their corporate capacity, and dealt with them according to their corporate action.
Thus the holy land, as the land of His elect people, and hallowed by Jehovah's dwelling in it, was distinguished from other lands in its exemption from physical evils, and in the fullness of material blessings. By His power would He preserve the people from the invasion of their enemies when attending His feasts at Jerusalem, and at all times give them the victory when invaded. All the surrounding nations should thus know that it was His land, and honor Him who could thus defend and bless His people.
With the Church, on the contrary, made up of individuals dwelling in all lands, God can stand in no such national relation. Every nation made up of the baptized may be truly called a Christian nation, and its rulers owe allegiance to Him and to His Son; but as such it is no part of the Church, nor are its rulers rulers of the Church, nor its sins sins of the Church. But although not to be looked upon as a nation, yet is the Church capable in still higher degree of corporate action; for it is one through the unity of life, and therefore it may disobey and be punished, or obey and be blest. But these blessings and punishments must be spiritual, not material; such as may extend to the whole body, wherever its members may be found. And as the Church is made up of those individually regenerated, the dealings of God with them are individual as well as corporate. The life of the Vine is indeed the life of the branch, but each branch is dealt with according to its own spiritual condition. It may be purged to bring forth more fruit, or it may wither and be cast out.
Thus, in both the elections, Jewish and Christian, was the supernatural power of God to be continually put forth, to the end that He might be known in the earth as a God above nature; and as ruling over all for the blessing of His people, by putting forth His power in a manner corresponding to His purpose in each election.
5. We notice that in the Christian Church, a far higher measure of spiritual gifts and endowments is found than existed in the Jewish. As the body oi Christ, its higher life was the basis of higher spiritual operations; it could be what the Jewish people was not, the temple of the Holy Ghost, in which He could manifest Himself in all forms of activity, and bestow upon His faithful ones all endowments of power and holiness, and all diversities of gifts. Although the gift of prophecy was common to both elections, yet among the Jews was it occasional, and to a certain degree exceptional; for there was no order of prophets, God raising them up at intervals as He had need. But in the Church, the ministry of the prophet was constituent and permanent; since the Holy Ghost sent at Pentecost dwelt in it to make known the will of the Lord, and to show or declare the things to come. (Eph. iv. 11; John xvi. 13, etc.) The prophetic gift was one that all might possess, and which all were to covet earnestly. "He that prophesieth speaketh unto men to exhortation and edification and comfort." But the gift of tongues in the Church was the new and characteristic gift, since it especially marked the indwelling of the Spirit in men. "He that speaketh in a tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God." (1 Cor. xiv. 1-24; Acts ii. 4.) And other gifts than those of utterance were given, each of which was a manifestation of the Spirit. (1 Cor. xii. 7, 10.) To show forth the power of Christ, His members were promised all forms of supernatural help. "In my name shall they cast out devils, they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents, and if they drink any deadly thing it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover." All these things were to be done in the name of Christ, and for a witness unto Him as the Saviour from sin and death. And, therefore, such a promise could not have been made till He was about to ascend and to be set Head over all things unto the Church. Such an ordinance also as that for the anointing of the sick did not exist under the law, and could have a place only amongst those made partakers of His life.
It is plain from this comparison that the Christian Church is no mere continuation and enlargement of the Jewish. This is common to them both that they are elections, some taken from the many, that through them when brought into their perfected condition, God may manifest Himself to the world. The great line of distinction between them is found in their relations to the Messiah. The Jews under their covenant looked forward to Him as their Deliverer, their King, who should fulfill all covenant promises; but Christians have in Him already come the fountain of their life; of His glorified humanity they are already made partakers. The body of Christ is, therefore, something essentially new; distinct both in life and constitution, in its gifts and powers, from the election that preceded it. And the end to be hereafter accomplished by it, when both elections are completed, is distinct. Each will then serve as a means of Divine revelation; but the Church as the Lamb's wife seated in the heavenlies, moves in a sphere into which none other can be exalted, and which is for the blessing both of the Jews and the nations.