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poses htm to be the friend and patron of a race of be.ings, held in external allegiance, by interested motives, only; who are wholly adverse to him in their real charaeter. It makes him unite himself favorably to moral filth and deformity. For what are a class of beings, merely subject to civil regulations, without religion? What, but enemies to God by wicked works? No wonder, that the more modest advocates of this theory, advance it with a trembling hand. That the promises of the Abrahamic covenant, principally respected an eternal inheritance, and were exclusively of a gracious nature, is just as evident as that there is a Bible. We might multiply quotations without end in proof of it. But enough evidence has been presented. We are assured that God would be ashamed to be called the God of a man upon a lower principle.
2. It is plain, from what has been said, that the covenant of circumcision has more than two parties. A covenant is often exslusively defined as a stipulation by one, and a restipulation by another; and of course as comprehending no more than two parties. This is a just description of some covenants; but by no means of all covenants. It may be a just description of such covenants as respect things only. But when a covenant respects moral agents, there may be several parties. This is often the case in the settlement of the terms of peace between nations who have been engaged in war. There may be two transacting parties only; and yet there may be others; either societies or. individuals, whom their engagement may respect, and in whom certain rights shall be as really vested, as in either of the contracting parties. A king, in settling a peace with another king, with whom he has been at war, makes the investiture of his eldest son, with a certain principality, a primary article in the treaty, entirely unknown, at the time of establishing this treaty, to this son. By-the agreement of the contracting parties the son becomes entitled to this principality. He is therefore, properly a party in the covenant. As soon as the treaty shall be published, he will advance^ his claims accordingly.
In the covenant of circumcision, God covenanted. Abraham was the immediate covenantee. This covenant respected another portion of intelligent agents, the seed. These were covenantees only as the covenant respected them. But the promise respecting them, did as really invest them with the blessing, as it did Abraham himself.
3. It is evident from the view which has been taken of the covenant of circumcision, that the application of particular promises to individuals, which are not made to others, is not at all inconsistent with their being in the same covenant, and interested in the same common blessing. The promise addressed to Abraham, " I will make of thee a great nation, kings shall come out of thee," did not apply to Moses, though one of his seed. The promise to Moses, Exodus iv. 12. "Now therefore go, and J will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say," did not apply to Abraham. Yet Abraham and Moses were in the same covenant, and had equally God for their God. Hence, though the promise of the land of Canaan, does not apply to Gentile believers, it will not follow that they are not in the same covenant, with the seed of Abraham,
4. From the view we have taken of the seed, and their covenant standing, it is an obvious conclusion, that the salvation of children was not so suspended upon the faith of parents, and their diligence in instructing them, as that, however perfect, their salvation would always infallibly follow. The covenant comprehended no promise, securing such a connexion universally. In millions of instances it might fail, and yet the covenant stand good. Fidelity on the part of the parent was an indispensable duty. It was an important mean, in the hand of God, of accomplishing his gracious purpose, relative to the seed; and was so commonly prospered, or made effectual, as that it had the strongest encouragement, and presented a foundation for raised hope. Yet it was not always effectual; for it was not a condition of the promise.-rThe promise was absolute. But an absolute promise, though it may have a mean, can be suspended upon no condition whatever. The seed was the election.—f The most perfect faithfulness with respect to all others, would of course be wholly ineffectual. Probably Isaac was as faithful to Esau, as to Jacob. Aaron, for aught that appears, was as faithful to Nadab and Abihu, as to Eleazer and Ithamar. David was probably as faithful to Absalom as to Solomon. Circumcision was not therefore administered upon the ground of such an infallible universal connexion.
5. It is plain from the foregoing premises, that the covenant of circumcision was the basis of a society, and such a kind of society as there was nothing like it in all the world. It was a society, which embraced the heirs of the eternal inheritance. It was a society which, as to its descriptive character, consisted of the seed which was the blessed of the Lord. It was appropriated by Jehovah, as, his family, his inheritance,his portion. Those who composed it were his people, and he was their God. They were under his special government and care as his; as those whom all the promises of his covenat respected. Christ was united to this society as its saviour. Its institutions and laws were holy. Its character was holy. Its relations and interests were holy. In a moral view therefore it was the contrast of all institutions among men, merely national and civil. There was not, indeed, a vestige of any thing national, or civil belonging to it; according to the common import of those terms, as signifying combinations and laws, of a mere worldly design. The society was not a kingdom of the earth; but the kingdom of heaven.
6. It is evident, that this society, formed by the covenant of circumcision, and of which this covenav.t was the constitutional basis, was indissohable. It was to last forever. Whether the members of it should be in heaven or upon earth ; whether it should occupy, as its place of rest, Egypt, or the Wilderness, or Canaan, or the territories of the Gentiles; whether it should have one modification, or another; be under this dispeiv satibn; or that; it was to be of interminable duration. The covenant is declared to be everlasting. The establisher of it is the living God. The promises of this covenant respect a redeemed seed; and they are redeemed in such a high and exalted sense, as that they are made unto God, kings and priests for ever.
7. It is evident that the infant offspring of those adults who belonged to this society, whether in the line of the natural posterity of Abraham, or of the adoption, were members of it. They were so by birth; and as completely members then, as when they became adults. They were the seed constituting the society; and whom the promises of the covenant respected. Hence the fact, which is so uncontrovertible as not to be denied by any denomination of Christians, that the infants of Israel were considered and treated as compleatly members of the body. With their parents, they came under all the collective epithets, which designated the society.
~8. It is evident from the foregoing view of the covenant state of the seed, that those who died in their infancy, not having been excepted from the body of the seed by any express testimony, or in the execution of the laws of the covenant, were to be considered as saved. None will deny this, who do not deny the possibility of the salvation of infants altogether. But surely they are as capable of salvation, as of being made subjects of promise. And their being subjects of an unconditional gracious promise, concludes in favor of their being considered heirs of the inheritance. The kingdom is in heaven as well as upon earth. Death therefore does not dismember from it. This was a very important part of the blessing secured in the covenant, and made a wide difference, between the cove-. nanted people of God, and the heathen world. On ac» count of* this difference, the heathen are called by Paul, Ephesians ii. 12. "%evtl ruv Siu&wm Tvjs- evttyreklctff," strangers from the covenants of promise; and are said to be without God, without Christ, and without hope in the world.
0. It is evident from the illustrations which have been brought into view respecting the seed, that individual descendants from Abraham could be deprived of the blessings of the covenant, or fail of having God, for their God, in the strict sense of the promise, but in one viay; I.e. by refusing the covenant alliance. I do not now speak of the divine sovereignty, which is the cause whv one is taken and the other left; but of the part which man acts as a moral agent. The external administration of the covenant, involved a proposal on the part of God, to be the God of all to whom it was addressed. This was another point of great difference between the posterity of Abraham, and the rest of the world. This proposition has neyer been made to mankind, univerisally. It has been made in connexion with the pre* servation and promulgation of the covenant only.—* The way, and the only way, then, by which individuals lived and died, without any interest in the blessings of the covenant, was unbelief. Hence those who were chargeable with unbelief, were openly cut off from the covenant.
10. It is evident, that if the covenant of circumcisi ion, be altogether of a gracious nature, as it has been largely shewn that it is, then the dutiful observance of the ordinance of circumcision, by the adult, must have been understood to be an act of faith. Circumcision was a token of promise. The promise was embraced by faith only. The application of the token then, when dutifully applied, was an act of faith. It was of course, believer'st and not unbeliever's circumcision. Yet
It. It evidently appears from the view which has been taken of the covenant, that actual faith was by no means an essential qualification in the subject of circumcision.* It was a requisite, respecting the adult pros-; elyte; butnot at all respecting the seed. Their passivity in circumcision, and as subjectsof the covenant initially,
'• " The most plausible agrument against the baptism of infants, has been founded on this principle, viz, that actual faith is a necessary qualification for that trdinance. This argument is the dernier resort of the antipcEdobaptists, and the whole weight of their cause rests and depends upon it."
^ Amzi Lewis.