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Hebræorom, which I have cited largely in the notes; and also the reply made to it by Fabricius in his Tractatus Philologico-Theologicus De Sacerdotio Christi juxta ordinem Melchizedechi. In the latter I have, however, found nothing which has induced me to alter the opinion which I had before formed.
THE SYMBOLIC PARTIES IN THE ABRAHAMIC
MY DEAR FRIEND, I HAVE, I believe, more than once in the series of this correspondence referred to the awful vision vouchsafed to Abraham, and which is recorded in the xyth chapter of Genesis, as furnishing information on the subject of the patriarchal religion. This revelation made to Abraham, though the record concerning it is short, may, notwithstanding its brevity, afford us great light on the character of the first dispensation of evangelic truth, if we contemplate it in connexion with other similar visits from God to man. I shall therefore take the liberty of calling your attention more particularly to it.
The two parts into which the revelation of God to man is divided, commonly called the Old and New Testaments, are counterparts, the one of the other. The former affords predictive information respecting what was to be done for lost mankind; and the latter, is an historical detail of what has been done in the accomplishment of that glorious undertaking. Jesus Christ, the Surety of the covenant, is the object of both; the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending.
If this connexion be admitted to subsist between the two component parts of Divine Revelation, the Bible must be its own best interpreter. If it be read with this clew, and with earnest prayer to its blessed Author for instruction in its wonderful contents, many apparently insurmountable difficulties in its interpretation will disappear. The covenant of Redemption, with its accomplishment in the person of Christ, is the master key that opens all the principal enigmas of this mysterious book, and discloses to view the unsearchable riches it contains. If the plan of “comparing spiritual things with spiritual” be humbly, patiently, and diligently pursued, with prayer to God that he would “open our understandings to understand the Scriptures,” the glorious light of Gospel-Truth will shine, more and more, on a believer's mind, unto the perfect day. It is with this key, that I shall endeavour to open to you the nature and object of the revelation of grace made to Abraham to which I have requested your attention. .
Abraham, whose interesting memoirs occupy so large a portion of the first book in the sacred code, and who fills so conspicuous a place in the list of worthies under the Patriarchal dispensation of the Gospel, was selected by Divine wisdom and mercy to be the father of a chosen seed; the channel through which the pure stream of the true religion should flow down to distant posterity ; and, ultimately, the parent stock from which the human nature of the Messiah himself, “ the desire of all nations," the common Saviour of all, should spring. The great events, however, which were revealed to him as the objects of the Divine purpose, were, as to many of them at least, very remote, with respect to their actual accomplishment; and must have been viewed by the patriarch's eye of faith, as the stars which glimmer in the milky way, are seen through the astronomer's telescopic medium. Mountainous obstacles, insuperable by finite skill and power, arose to obstruct the introduction of those blessings, of which he was appointed the intermediate heir, till He should appear who is more emphatically“ appointed heir of all things." The first step in the progressive developement of the promises was embarrassed by apparent impossibilities. The birth of a son when the father was an hundred years old, and the mother ninety, in the then shortened state of human life, could take place only by a miracle. The future possession of Canaan by the seed of a man now well stricken in years,-a country extensive and populous, inhabited and fortified by warlike and powerful nations ; his posterity to be strangers in a land not theirs, oppressed with servitude and the iron hand of affliction four hundred years (ver. 13);—and after this to be made victorious over all their enemies, and brought into that good land which ftowed with milk and honey: all these must have been prospects astonishing to the patriarch's mind; and not to stagger at the promises through 'unbelief, required a vigour of faith, which the Scripture celebrates as worthy of high admiration. But the grand promise, recorded chap. xii. 13, to which all the rest were subservient, that “In his seed all nations should be blessed,” was a call for credit to the Truth of God, which far exceeded all the other demands on his faith in the veracity of Divine promises.
As Abraham's difficulties were great, it pleased God to afford him such remarkable means for the confirmation of his faith as scarcely any other saint ever enjoyed. Of this tendency were the several extraordinary manifestations which were occasionally vouchsafed to him ; the wonderful interview with Melchizedek, King of Salem ; the institution of circumcision; and the circumstances which attended the offering of Isaac his Son. We shall at present confine our attention to the memorable transaction described in Gen. xv. which I have before mentioned.
That the confirmation of Abraham's faith was the design of this awfully mysterious scene, is plain from the 8th and 9th verses. In the former of these, in consequence of the promise of Canaan