Imágenes de páginas

not caused it to rain upon the the earth before the flood, he earth, but there went up a mist will be pleased to recollect, that from the earth and watered the after the deluge a rainbow was whole face of the ground.” When caused to appear on a cloud, as a Moses, in seven chapters, gave sign, by which Noah was assured us the history of sixteen hundred that the earth would not again be years, we can hardly suppose destroyed by a flood. " I do set that he digressed in his narrative my bow in the cloud, and it shall to state a fact so perfectly clear, be for a token of a covenant be. as that plants might have grown, tween me and the earth.” Now or that they did grow, three or it is certain, that a rainbow was a four days without rain, being sup- new phenomenon, else it could plied by a mist or dew instead of not have been a sigo to Noah; rain. He certainly intended, or hence it follows, that there bad seems to have intended, to cause not been any rain before the flood, us to believe that the whole pro- for, if there had been any rain, cess of vegetation, before the there must have been occasional flood, was carried on by help of rainbows, unless the properties of mist or dew.

light had been different before But if there be any doubt con.

the flood from what they are at cerning the meaning of the sacred present. Perhaps it may be alpenman in those words ; whether leged that rainbows had been obhe intended to signify that the served before the flood, but they whole face of the ground was

had not formerly been considered watered only for a few days, by a as a sign. This allegation would dew instead of rain ; and if the pot be correct, because the words reader is still disposed to believe imply that the bow was now set that the antediluvian world had in the cloud, where it had not been watered, after a few days, appeared before. And because by rain as at present, we must there is no instance in the sacred refer him to an observation made records of any thing being given by the apostle Paul, in his epis-to man as a sign, that was not pertle to the Hebrews. He says, fectly new or preternatural.' la “ Noah being warned of God of several cases a sign was given to things not seen as yet, moved by Gideon, a judge in Israel, but fear, prepared an ark to the sav

they were each of them unpreceing of his house."

dented and miraculous. We cannot perceive what were Noah was assured that the bow the things not seen as yet, which in the cloud should be the token put the life of Noah in danger, of a covenant. And he was asunless rain was one of them, and sured, that while the earth re: the fountains of the great deep mained seedtime and harvest, cold the other. Neither of those phe- and beat, summer and winter, day momena, as we conceive, by and night, should not cease. And wbich the earth was deluged, had if our conjectures are right

, seedas yet been seen.

time and harvest, cold and heat, If neither of those arguments summer and winter, before the will satisfy the reader that there flood had never been experienced was not any rain opon the face of on the carth. The antediluvians

enjoyed a perpetual spring, and data in the sacred record, by a healthy uniform climate. which we are enabled to show

In such a climate as the ori- why it was that the length of ginal inhabitants of this globe en- human life was so greatly rejoyed, we do not wonder that duced. If we consider long life men of a firm constitution should as a blessing, it will readily be have lived so long, as they were admitted that man, in a very short exempted from all the offensive time, had forfeited all claim to causes by which our present ca- tbat blessing; but he continued talogue of diseases have been for nine generations to enjoy long produced.

life. Therefore we look for some We have observed, that men of other reason why this remarkable a vigorous constitution, under change was elected. And here the original climate of this globe, it cannot escape our notice, that must have lived long. But no health and the prospect of long force of constitution could resist life proved to be unfavourable to the destructive effects of the pre- virtue. sent globe and its various tempe

In the course of pine generaratures. Noah lived 950 years, tions, less than the medium length for bis constitution was formed of two lives, the antediluvians by living 600 years before the were so horridly degenerated, flood; but his son Shem lived that there was not on the face of only 600 years. The son of Shem the earth a single man who feared lived only 438 years; and thus God except Noah. If we take they continued to degenerate, nine generations after the flood every son, with one exception to the time of Abraham, when only, living a shorter time than sickness began to prevail, and his father, until they had sunk, every succeeding life to become within the space of eight or nine shorter, we shall find that men hundred years, by the effect of did not sink into idolatry so fast our sickening climate, to the pre- as before the flood. We shall not sent threescore and ten. When asfirm, though we suspect, that Jacob, that venerable patriarch, Job and his friends were cotemhad removed with his family into porary with Abraham, but surely Egypt, 641 years after the flood, Melchizedeck, the king of sahe gare

Pharaoh this account of lem, was an acceptable worsbiphis age. “ The days of the years per of the Supreme Being, and of my pilgrimage are 113. Few such were probably many of his and evil have the days of the subjects. Hence we infer, that years of my life been, and have the shortening of human life, not attained unto the days of the with all its attendant diseases, years of the life of my fathers in was a merciful dispensation, and ihe days of their pilgrimage.” should be regarded as such. He lived 147 years, and his son True it is, that little time as men Joseph lived only 110 years. cao promise themselves at pre

We have seen that a great and sent to enjoy the pleasures of sin, general change was made in the there is a prodigious tendency in life of man. And we have seen, our race to forget the Giver of all by what process that change was good things. e rected: but there are not any




any trans

BAPTISM.No. IV.* there was danger of the original

promise being entirely forgotten. AND A new dispensation of course was

necessary-a dispensation adapted

to the state of mankind. Abram, WE proceed now, according though an idolater, is called by to previous notice, to inquire God, and commanded to leave his whether God ever had action with Abraham about mat

native country, and go to a land

that God would show him. “And ters purely temporal; or whe

I will make of thee a great nather God ever gave Abraham a proinise which referred solely to tion, and I will bless thee, and carnal benefits. Perhaps the

make thy name great, and thou point will be better understood, bless them that bless thee, and

shalt be a blessing : and I will by inquiriog, whether God ever

curse him that curseth thee: made a covenant with Abrabam

land in thee shall all the families merely about the land of Canaan, of the earth be blessed.” Gen. and another about Christ and his

xii. 2, 3. In this first promise people? The negative to the

to Abram, we have included subinquiry is given unhesitatingly as the answer. All God's transac- stantially, all subsequent promises.

Hereafter, in all God's transactions with Abraham relate to one great object, and constitute but tions, there is ao new promise one dispensation of the covenant given, but merely a more en. of grace between the Father and larged view of the whole promise,

or of the particular parts included the Son, as the Head of the elect. The object will be unfolded by Abram and Lot parted, God said

in the promise. Thus, after explaining the dispensation. A dispensation of the covenant land of Canaan, “Lift up now

unto Abram, who dwelt in the is simply God's method of making thine eyes, and look from the the covenant known, and the directions in connexion with this place where thou art, northward revelation which he gives for

and southward, and eastward and

westward: For all the land which regulating his worship. Such a

thou seest, to thee will I give it, dispensation was given to Adam in the first promise. Another to

and to thy seed for ever, and I will Noah after the food, when God make thy seed as the dust of the established his covenant i.

earth,” &c. In this promise of confirmed to him the promise of

God there is nothing distinct from the purifier, which was originally the first promise enlarged. Of

the first promise—for it is only

a ation was necessary for the

the same nature is the promise in

new world, which was to be peopled 1-14. is the fullest enlargement

Gen. xv. 18. T'hat in Gen. xvii. by Noah's posterity. In process of the first promise, and requires of time the knowledge of the promise became obscured. Men in

more particular notice. Here creased in multitude, and amidst we have the promise of his being the diversity of tribes and peoples the father of many nations, and

being exceedingly fruitfulthat * This number has been unavoidably

God would be a God to him and to delayed.

This seed after him-that he would


give to him and his seed the land of some that God made a covenant Canaan. Examine each of these with Abraham merely about Caparticulars, and you will perceive naan and his natural posterity. that, substantially, they are con- In the 5th verse God promises to tained in the previous promises. Abram that his seed shall be as His being the father of many na- the number of the stars. In the tions, the apostle explains of his 6th verse the historian says of being the father of them that be- Abram,.“ and he believed in the lieve, whether Jew or Gentile, Lord; and he counted it to him and is of the same import with for righteousness.” What did s all the families of the earth, Abraham believe? The Lord's being blessed in him." And God's promise concerning his seed. Did being " the God of him and his that promise refer only to Abraseed,” is nothing more than a ham's natural posterity ? Assuredparticular enlargement of “ the ly not: for the Apostle Paul, in manner in which all the families Rom. iv. 18, says, that the seed of the earth should be blessed in here meant are the many nations him,” viz. by the exercise of mercy of whom he was to be father, i. e. through a Redeemer to him and his the company or multitude of seed. The transaction already believers from among Jews and quoted from the 15th chapter Gentiles. The many nations, as must be of the same nature wi b we have already seen, refers to that in the 17th chapter. And Abraham's spiritual seed—those both of them relate to the same who walk in his steps. Tbis spigreat object, i. e. the covenant ritual seed the Apostle to the

In all God's dealings Galatians, iii. 29. calls Christ's with Abraham we bave one sim- and heirs according to the promise. ple dispensation of that covenant, 'The faith of Abram, then, on this according to which the purifier, occasion, if the Apostle can guide the promised seed, was to come us, had a direct reference to the forth from Abraham's loins. The promised Messiah, who should previous dispensations, first to spring from his loins, in whom all Adam, then to Noah, related to the families of the earth were to this same object. Both these be blessed. This appears farweregeneral, including the whole ther from Rom. iv. 3, where the human family. This last was par- Apostle says, referring to this ticular, confined to one family, very passage, Gen. xv. 6. Abraand yet, as will presently appear, bam believed God, and it was provision was made for the intro-counted to bim for righteousness. duction of others into this family. Now, adds the Apostle, “to him

This dispensation to Abraham that worketh is the reward not was spiritual in its nature. be- reckoned of grace, but of debt. cause it exhibited spiritual bless. But to him that worketh not. but ings. For this, besides the ob- believeth on him that justifieth the vious meaning of God's promises ungodly, his faith is counted for to Abraham, as already quoted righteousness." Abram's faith, and explained, we bave one then, must have had respect to proof wbich appears to be con- God as justifying the ungodly, at clusive. This is contained in this very time.

The promise, Gen. xv. where it is supposed by therefore, referred to Christ as

of grace.

the great Redeemer and purifier, dience constitute their visible rein and through whom Abram lation to God as his subjects, not was pardoned and accepted, and in a political, but spiritual sense ; in and through whom Abram's spi- subjects of his spiritual empire, ritual seed are pardoned and ac- which is the Church. Such were cepted. These proofs are satis- those children of Abram who factory, and appear decisive in were born to him according to settling the nature of what is com- the promise. Thus Ismael and monly called the Abrahamic Co. the children of Keturah were exvenant.

cluded from the Church, whilst We only add, that whoever Isaac constituted the true seed as will read with care Rom. iv. and the child of promise. And thus Gal. iii. will find the whole of Jacob, not Esau, was the child God's transactions with Abraham of promise and the seed of Abraexplained by the Spirit of God ham. Provision was indeed made himself. It was a promise on for admitting the Heathen into God's part, that in due time, ac- this visible relation to God, by cording to the covenant of grace, permitting them to be incorporathe Purifier should be cut off; and ted with the children of the proa testamentary disposition that mise by professing their faith and through the fulfilment of this pro- their obedience, and submitting mise, all other promises should to God's institutions. The twelve be confirmed, saving benefits pur- patriarchs and their descendants chased, and nations blessed. As were the children of the promise, the Covenant, he was thus cut off, and as such, io visible relation to i. e. he, by death Gilled the con-God. This relation was recogditions of the covenant. As the nized at Sinai, when God was Testator be by his death con- pleased to establish another disfirmed the inheritance wbich he pensation of the covenant of purchased to his people. Thus grace, and more fully to develope the reader perceives that this co- the nature of his transaction with venant with Abraham, as it is Abram. Tben the external or called, is spiritual in its nature, ganization of the Church until because referring primarily to the days when the Purifier should Christ the Messiah, and through be cut off was completed. him to the spiritual and temporal Having thus endeavoured to blessings which he, the Messiab, explain the nature of God's transpurchased by his death.

action with Abram, and to This transaction of God and prove its unity, i. e. that the Abraham related to others besides whole of God's dealings with the the Patriarch, for he acted in a patriarch constituted but one dispublic capacity as the father of pensation of the covenant of grace, many nations. These, then, are we proceed to unfold the nature of included with him, and they, as Circumcision. God calls it a token of we have seen, are all those who the covenant, i. e. of the Purifier, tread in his steps—all believers. between him and Abram ; and These are known to us only by Paul a seal of the righteousness the profession which they make, of faith, i. e. of the righteousand ihe obedience which they dis- ness of Christ apprehended by lay. This profession and obe- faith. Paul's view of circumci.

« AnteriorContinuar »