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might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.” 15. “ Brethren, I speak after the manner of men; though it be but a man's covenant, yet if it be confirmed, no man disannulleth or addeth thereto. Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, and to thy seed, which is Christ. And this I say, that the covenant that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul that it should make the promise of none effect.”
Thus we see that the Abrahamic covenant was the true and everlasting covenant. And the great distinction between it and the law was, that by the covenant Abraham could be justified by faith; but he could not have been justified even by faith without the covenant. But by the law no man could be justified. Rom. iv. 13. “ The promise that he should be the heir of the world was not to Abraham or his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.” The law, properly so called, or the Mosaic or national law of the Israelites, made no part of the original everlasting covenant; but, on the contrary, was added on account of the transgression and forfeiture of that very covenant. The covenant, instead of being gradually unfolded and spiritualized, (as was originally intended,) was made temporal-was shrouded in ceremonial and ritual observances. The ark of the covenant, containing the ten commandments, was shut up from the Israelites until the time determined to finish the transgression. Dan. ix. 24. Instead of being led by the Angel of the covenant, the law was a severe schoolmaster to bring them to Christ.
To some worldly-minded nominal Christians, the Abrahamic covenant may seem to be chiefly temporal, but we learn from St. Paul (Heb. viii. ix.; Gal. iii.) that the temporal
parts were merely preparatory to the spiritual, the faint pencil patterns or tracings, which were to be overlaid with gold. Thus did they appear to be overlaid in St. Paul's view, for he does not even notice the temporal parts in his description of the covenant.
For the further confirmation of the above views of the covenant, the following examples will show, that we are not always to suppose that when a covenant is said to be made, it is a new covenant, but merely a repetition, or renewal, or confirmation of the old. I have shown this already, as to the covenant mentioned on delivering the new tables, Exod. xxxiv. Deut. xxxix. 1. 6 These are the words of the covenant which the Lord commanded Moses to make with the children of Israel in the land of Moab, beside the covenant which he made with them in Horeb :" And yet it appears to any one who reads this chapter, that there was no' new convenant made then, but merely the former covenant renewed and confirmed to the young generation about to enter the promised land. i .
Before God is said to have made the covenant with Israel after their transgression, Exod. xxxiv., he exhorts them to keep his covenant. Exod. xix. š. This was the Abrahamic covenant, and he promises as a reward of their obedience, that they should be “ a kingdom of priests,?? &c. which means, that if they adhered to that covenant, which was to be extended to all nations, they should be employed as the heralds and priests to proclaim and teach it to the rest of the world.
In 2 Kings xxiii. 2, when Josiah found the book of the law, and persuaded the people to adopt it, he is said to have made a covenant, when in reality he only brought it into use : for what was the covenant he and the people made ? “ To keep his commandments and his testimonies, and to perform the words of this covenant,” (which they
had found and read,) “and all the people stood to the covenant."
In Isaiah lv. beginning with “Ho, every one that thirsteth,” (an expression appropriated to himself by our blessed Lord at the feast of dedication,) verse 3, 5 Incline your ear, and come unto me, hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David.” It is manifest that this refers to the covenant already made, and not to a new one to be made : and means that he will extend the original covenant to them in the true spirit of the promises to Abraham ; and that he would not only give it to them, but that they should be the happy and blessed instruments of extending it to other nations. Verse 5. “Behold, thou shall call a nation that thou knowest not; and nations that knew not thee, shall run unto thee because of the Lord thy God, and for the holy one of Israel; for he hath glorified thee.”
The Christian covenant is called the everlasting covenant, Ezek. xxxvii. 26. “ Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them, it shall be an everlasting covenant with them.” But it appears from what has been said that this was not to be a new covenant. It also appears from Isaiah, that the covenant of peace had existed before, and it is remarkable that this passage immediately follows chap. liii. in which the Messiah is more particularly foretold. liv. 10: 6 The mountains shall depart and the hills be removed ; but my kindness shall not depart from thee; neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee."
That the Jewish covenant was the same or rather part of the Abrahamic covenant appears from David's Psalm cv. and 1 Chron. xvi. 15. “ Be ye mindful always of his covenants, the word which he commanded to a thousand generations, which he made with Abraham, and his oath unto Isaac, and hath confirmed the same to Jacob for a law, and to Israel for an everlasting covenant.” And in the time of Elisha the Jewish covenant is spoken of as the covenant with Abraham. “ And the Lord was gracious unto them and had compassion on them, and had respect unto them, because of his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” 2 Kings xiii. 23.
In Deut. viii. 18, when Moses promises the blessings of the “ covenant which he sware unto thy fathers,” he means the original and everlasting covenant, for that alone was confirmed by an oath.
6 In Dan. ix. 27, it is said that the Messiah “ shall confirm the covenant with many for one week.” This must mean the original covenant with Abraham, and in Mal iii. 1. “ The messenger of the covenant,” refers to the Christian dispensation, which is thus identified with the covenant of Abraham. In like manner, in St. Luke i. 72, Zacharias connects the Abrahamic covenant with the Christian dispensation. « To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant, and the oath which he sware unto our father Abraham.”
Enough has been said to show that there was but one covenant confirmed with all the solemnities of a covenant; that it was to be an everlasting covenant gradually expanding out into the gospel dispensation;—that no new covenant was made with the Israelites, but that they were partially re-admitted to that covenant, the whole of which they had forfeited by their rebellion and idolatry. We may, therefore, conclude that in such passages as the following, when a new covenant is spoken of, we are to consider the same original covenant adapted to a new dispensation. Jer. xxxi. 31. “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and the house of Judah ; not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, which my covenant they brake; but this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts, and will be their God, and they shall be my people.” The same is repeated in Hebrews viii. 8, 9, 10, 11. See also 6, 7, 13.
Barrow, and others, argue against the permanent obligation of the decalogue, on the grounds that it formed part of the Jewish law and covenant, and must cease with the subversion of the Jewish state and covenant. I have proved above that there was not a separate covenant made with the Israelites. But supposing, for the present, that a second covenant was made after their rebellion and idolatry, and acknowledging that the ten commandments were made part of that covenant; it does not follow of course that they are to be coeval with it. The very supposition of their being of universal and permanent obligation would have been sufficient cause for incorporating them into a temporary code of laws. Thus Christianity is made part and parcel of British law; but if the British law and state were to have an end, must Christianity end with them? Or, supposing that King Charles II. had founded a college, and made the acknowledgment and subscription of the thirty-nine articles a necessary condition of the charter, and supposing the college and charter subsequently to cease