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in the future covenant: not outwardly, in the sign; but inwardly and spiritually, in the flesh. If we consider Acts xv., we must bear in mind, that the whole of the argument was, whether the Gentiles were to be circumcised or not. For this cause the Apostles assembled, and to this their decision relates. Therefore, a correct interpretation of the passage must point out how the arguments bear upon their sentence.
Peter declares, that God had given the inward and spiritual grace, without the outward and visible sign to which James (ver. 14) agrees; pointing out that there is a dispensation, during which time the name of God is to be preserved among the elect of the Gentiles. Which he enforces by alluding to Amos ix, 11, 12: for he does not bring it forward as a literal quotation; but by it shewing that a time was foretold when the tabernacle of David would be thrown down; that it would be after this Gentile dispensation of the election of grace that the Lord would return and build again the tabernacle of David; and it would be after the rebuilding, that all the Gentiles should come in, and the residue of Edom, &c. So that his sentence was, that during this dispensation the Gentiles were not to be troubled with that sign or seal; but leaving us to draw this inference, that in the future dispensation circumcision would be restored.
I will first examine how Amos bears upon this. I will then see whether other Scriptures have the same truth. And, lastly, I will consider how the arguments of James bear upon circumcision.
My view of Amos ix. is this. Ver. 8: "I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob, saith the Lord. For, lo, I will command, and I will sift the house of Israel amongst all nations, like as corn is sifted in a sieve; yet shall not the least grain fall upon the earth." the earth." It will be observed, connecting the 9th verse with the latter clause of verse 8, that I make the figure one of mercy to the Jews. Sifting, is the separating of the precious from the vile, the wheat from the chaff: therefore this is the causing to move from the dispersion, and not the dispersion itself. Ver. 10 marks the destruction of many of the Jews at that period; as is mentioned also in other Scriptures (see Zech. xiv. 1-4). Then comes," In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David." The expression is altered by the inspired Apostle to "after this." The reason appears evident: Amos looked over this dispensation to the future, and called it" that day." Describing its features, James, who speaks during this dispensation, says, "after this;" namely, in the dispensation immediately succeeding. This view makes the sense of both the Prophet and Apostle to agree; which is necessary to a true interpretation.
I will now mention one or two Scriptures, which confirm this interpretation; namely, that there will be a dispensation where circumcision will exist. Ezek. xliv. 9: "Thus saith the Lord God, No stranger uncircumcised in heart or uncircumcised in flesh shall enter into my sanctuary, of any stranger that is among the children of Israel." This passage we find, in Witsius, book iv. chap. viii. 27, 28, has been considered as indicative of the revival of the rite, and which he there combats.
Isai. xxv. 7, appears to me to contain the same truth: "Jehovah-Sabaoth will destroy the covering of the face (or facecovering) cast over all people, and the vail that is spread over all nations." The allusion is to the covering cast over people, when under condemnation, as we see illustrated in Esther vii. 8, 9; or when dead, asJohn xi.44: and the allusion is to death having passed upon all men by original sin. The verses immediately preceding the prophecy of the new covenant, Jer. xxxi. 29, 30, I suppose to contain the same truth: "In those days they shall say no more, The fathers have eaten a sour grape, and the children's teeth are set on edge; but every one shall die for his own iniquity every man that eateth the sour grape, his teeth shall be set on edge." This shews how I suppose circumcision will be established-namely, not in the letter, but in the spirit; not in the type, but in the antitype, by the abolition of birth or (original sin). Now, though types may not be fundative of a doctrine, yet may they be illustrative and confirmative; and as such I cannot forbear mentioning one extraordinary type with respect to circumcision. It was in force when coming up out of Egypt; ceased while in the wilderness, which is answerable to the present period (1 Cor. x., Heb. iii. 7—iv. 11); but was revived upon entering the land (Jesh. v. 3-9). The meaning of the type confirms what I mentioned before, that circumcision pointed to possessing the land. And, indeed, this appears involved in the Lord's declaration upon establishing this "token of the covenant," Gen. xvii. 7-11: "And I will establish my covenant between me and thee....to be a God unto thee....and I will give unto thee the land....of Canaan .... thou shalt keep my convenant therefore....this is my covenant....every man-child shall be circumcised." The same truth is enforced by Stephen, Acts vii. 8: "And he gave hini the covenant of circumcision; and thus (rather than "so") Abraham begat Isaac, and Isaac begat Jacob," &c. "And thus," that is, in this covenant; referring back to ver. 5, "He gave him none inheritance in the land; yet he promised that he would give it him for a possession, and to his seed after him "--the seed begotten in the covenant, the seed of promise. "To Abraham were the promises made" (he saith not of one, the promise;' but in the plural, the promises') ver. 15. In Isaac Abraham received the
promise (Heb. vi. 15); but, though he had received the promise, he did not receive the promises (Heb. xi. 8-10, 13—15), they including the land and the heavenly Jerusalem. "Now to the Jews pertain the promises and the covenants" (Rom. ix. 4). And circumcision is the typical sign of the new covenant. It therefore ceases during the election out of the Gentiles; to be fulfilled in the spirit with the Jews in the first place, under the new covenant. And had circumcision been the sign of the old covenant, there had been no need to call a council to decide whether the sign were to continue, if they now were under a new covenant, as most say; but it was indeed a matter of grave deliberation, whether, under the new dispensation of the same covenant, the sign were to be suspended or not. But, having changed from a typical dispensation to the true testament, circumcision would not be to the Gentiles a sign of typical purity in the flesh; but, as Paul declares to the Galatians, v. 3, Every man that is circumcised is a debtor to do the whole law." That, however, is not attainable during the present dispensation: "But we, through the Spirit, wait for the hope of righteousness by faith" (ver. 5). This, again, accounts for that, to me, otherwise unaccountable speech of James to Paul, Acts xxi. 21: " And they are informed of thee, that thou teachest all the Jews which are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses; saying, that they ought not to circumcise their children," &c. And why not? What! most deceitfully allow them to become debtors to the whole law, to remain under the curse! Impossible! But to the Jews it was the sign of possessing the land.
There are some collateral observations I make to those who have faith in these matters. I feel not so confident, and therefore only throw them out for consideration. Those who attain to the resurrection (as I suppose all who are gathered during the suffering dispensation will) are to be kings and priests, with none inheritance in the land: Ezek. xliv. 28, &c.: the Lord is their portion, heirs of God, &c. "Nor will they marry," Matt. xxii. 30. But the Jews are to have seed, and seed's seed; and the blessing to them is, that not only they, but their children, are in the covenant, as completely as all mankind were in Adam. So all these shall know the Lord; and in that sense be Christ's seed, born in the covenant, pure and indefectable: also signified by this sign, as before hinted on Acts vii. according to the annexed table.
It appears to me, in few words, that there are two, and but two, covenants.
In the old covenant there are seven dispensations-six of promise; the seventh, the consummation of the ages, or the dispensation of the last days. The old covenant embraces only the redemption of spirit connected with matter, but in no way
redeems matter: therefore the saints, who have the first-fruits, are waiting for the redemption of the body.
The new covenant embraces the redemption of all irresponsible matter, together with the bodies of those who have received the benefit of the first covenant.
The old covenant varied in circumstances at divers times.
The new apparently will be diverse in kind to those under it : to wit; The first resurrection will be kings and priests; neither marrying nor having descent, but always having access into the holiest. The Jews will be in the covenant, they and their seed's seed for ever; inheriting the land of their fathers, and being the chief of nations. These two states will be indefectable and immutable. 3dly, Sodom and Samaria are spoken of in a state different from Judea, Ezek. xvi. 61. It appears that the nations of the earth, will be in a state of Adamic purity, preserved also from the temptations of Satan. Possibly some of these may be converted from the supposition of their being able to stand in their own sufficiency, and will be united to Christ, as a head of sustentation; but others, who stand in their own strength, will display their necessary mutability by immediately falling away upon Satan being loosed.
ON GOD'S ULTIMATE REVEALED
PURPOSE IN CREATION
AND NEW CREATION.
(Communicated by ROBERT BAXTER, Esq.)
It was not the intention of the writer of the following pages to publish them in a separate state: they were written as the first of a series of dissertations, planned as introductory to the study of Prophecy. The establishment of this Journal, and the slow progress of the other dissertations (arising from the writer's numerous occupations), have induced him to cast them as his mite into the treasury of the church. These circumstances will account for the form in which they are penned, and render a short introductory detail necessary.
The ultimate revealed purpose of God in creation and new creation is the subject; and it naturally suggests some brief view of the importance of such an inquiry. There is nothing more general and unavoidable in the exercise of reflection, than to inquire into the design, comprising the origin and the end, of all that is made subject to it. It is the question which the child will ask upon every new object presented to it: What is it? what is it for? And from childhood to the most manly intellect the same principle of interrogation is perceived and acted upon. Such is the force of habit, and such the variety and copiousness of subjects, that a little world of inquiry may be created in every mind, and almost engross the faculties, so as to shut them from the wide and discursive examination which is the proper province of man. But, where habit has led to proper sources, and the truths of revelation have been laid open in any measure, it is an inevitable consequence that the questions, Why were we made? and what will be our end? will present themselves. To every one removed from an incessant labour and toil for subsistence these questions will occur; and, according to the degree of interest felt by the inquirer in his own destiny, will be the intenseness with which it is pursued. The man of the world will agitate it as a recreation; the philosopher, as a matter of philosophy; the infidel, as a proof of his ease of conscience; and the Christian, as his very being: but all alike enter on it, and all form to themselves an answer which shall accord with their habits of thinking. It is not to infuse method and profit into all these inquiries that the present dissertation is penned it is intended for the humble-minded inquirer, who, loving the truth for His sake who is THE TRUTH, desires to see and acknowledge his glory, and to understand the mysteries of his wisdom. Not offered to him as a matter of speculative inquiry, but as a practical support to him in the seasons