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by the same gracious and indissoluble bonds by which he was the God of his fathers, Abraham, and Isaac.— Jacob had power with God, and prevailed. He carefully applied the token of the covenant to all his children; taught them to fear and serve God, and went before them in a pious example. His valedictory bles-. sings had the efficacy of prophecy. He expired under the weight of years, upon the bosom of an affectionate Joseph, and his bones were carried up, in solemn pomp, and buried by the bones of his fathers, m the land of promise. His children, the heads of the tribes, succeeded in the same relation to God, and were visibly recipients of the blessing. In character, they were by no means faultless. In some instances, their conduct was cruel. Still they adhered to the worship of God, and were distinguished from the idolatrous world as his people.
Joseph was certainly a person of singular piety.— His resistance of a potent temptation; his adherence to true religion in an idolatrous and profligate court; his filial duty; his readiness to forgive his brethren; and his great and persevering kindness to them, in opposition to all the natural dictates of pride and resentment, are decisive proofs of it.
By an extraordinary series of events, the prediction addressed to Abraham, respecting the subjection of his seed to the oppressions of a relentless government, was fulfilled. This did not express the discontinuance of covenant favor. Though the Egyptian monarch reduced them to slaves, and extended over them a most cruel despotism, their increase was not retarded. For we are told, Exodus, i. 12. "The more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew." The blessings of the covenant signally attended them, to counteract the designs of their oppressors; and to prepare the way for a triumph over them, in their final deliverance.
-* When God interposes to accomplish this, he does it, as the God of Abraham; Isaac, and Jacoby and in remembrance of his covenant; and he speaks of these their descendants, as his people. Exodus, iii. 6, 7, 8. "Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; and the Lord said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people, which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry, by reason of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows. And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of their land to a good land, &c." Moses, exactly according to the tenor of the covenant, is directed to speak to Pharaoh, of God, as appropriately the God of the Hebrews; and to say, "Let us go, we beseech thee, three days journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to the Lord our God.1'
Language, indicating the same covenant union, is again put into the mouth of Moses, Exodus iv. 22, 23.. "And thou shalt say unto Pharaoh, Israel is my Son; even my first born. And I say unto thee, let my Son go, that he may serve me." This appropriate language is used throughout the whole of that intercourse, between God and Moses, and between Moses and Pharaoh, which respects the departure of the children of Israel from Egypt.
Very remarkable was the distinction made betwen Israel and the idolatrous inhabitants of Egypt, during the course of those terrible judgments which, preceded the exodus. While the whole Country, inhabited by the native Egyptians, was overspread- with calamity, the adjoining territory, possessed by Israel, entirely escaped. The exemption of their firstborn from death, through the efficacy of the blood of the pachal lamb, when' the firstborn of Egypt universally perished, was manifestative of distinguishing covenant grace. So was the manner, in which Israel, were directed to spoil the Egyptians. And so, especially, was their miraculous deliverance at the Red Sea, when the hosts of Pharaoh were drowned.
God's treatment of Israel at this time, had the character of grace, as distinguishable', as hasbccn his treatment of Christians at any period under the New Testame-nt dispensation. It indicated a relation to him entirely spiritual, and was therefore in* perfect agreement with the view which has been given, in the preceding analysis, of the covenant of circumcision.
The triumph of Israel, after the passage of the Red Sea, was one, among the many triumphs, of the people of God. The song which they sung, was in the strain of evangelical piety; and, like all the doxologies of the Church, partook of the hosannas of heaven, where the song of Moses is the song of the Lamb. In the second verse of this song, there is a profession of real religion. "The Lord is my strength, and song; he also is become my salvation. He is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation ; my father's God, and I will exalt him." In the eleventh verse also, the spirit of true religion, is very fully expressed. "Who is like unto thee, G Lord, among the Gods ? Who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doingwonders?" The peculiar spiritual relation of this people to God is recognized, verses 16 and 17. "Fear and dread shall fall upon them: By the greatness of thine arm, they shall be as still as a stone; till thy people pass OAer, O Lord; till thy people pass over, which thou hast redeemed. Thou shalt bripg them in, and plant them in the mountain of thine inheritance; in the place, 0 Lord, which thou hast made for thee to dwell in; in the sanctuary, O Lord, which thy hands have established." It is to be remembered, the people, as a body, united with Moses in this song. Did ever then, a people, more deserve the name of a professing people? Were there ever any professions of godliness, more consonant, with sanctificalion of heart?
To this scene of united and public exultation, God, it would seem, had respect, in the direction given to Jeremiah, Jeremiah ii. 2. "Go and cry in the ears of Jerusalem, saying, Thus saith the Lord, I remember thee, the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals, when thou wentest after me in the wilderness, in a land that was not sown. Israel was holiness unto the Lord ; all that devour him shall offend; evil shall come upon them, saith the Lord." What equally express testimony have we to the visible piety of the Church under the last dispensation, at any period of it, antecedent to the millennium? If there be a parallel, it must be found in the first planting of it, under the immediate ministry of the Apostles.
It may be proper to remark as we go along, that in this passage in Jeremiah, and in a multitude of other places in the scripture, some of which will come into view in the course of this Treatise, Israel, is addressed as a single person; a manner of speaking, which seems to have been chosen, to suggest as impressively as possible, the unity of the society. This mode of address teaches vis, that the pattern of this society, as drawn by God, was calculated to fix upon it the same simplicity of character, which distinguishes the pious individual. Whether it be called a Congregation, a Flock, a Church, or Nation, (and it has all these names given to it,) an idea of the same simplicity of character is intended. And the meaning of these terms is precisely the same with that which is conveyed by them in the New Testament, as applicable tothe Christian Church. Let it be farther remarked, that this community consists now of households; by no means excluding the infant part of them. The institution of the passover, is on this principle. Exod. xii. 4. "And if the household, be too little for the lamb, let him and his neighbour next unto his house take it, according to the number of the souls; every man according to your eating shall make your count for the lamb." Be it remembered also, that they have all collectively, not excepting the infant part, been baptised into Moses, in the cloud, and in the sea,* and thereby had one characteristic name fixed upon them, "Holiness to the Lord." Be it remembered farther, that whatever proselytes may have. become attached to them, and incorporated into this society, by adoption, and are living; and all the children of proselytes, who have not apostatized, and gone oiF to idolatry, are identified with it; so that
* I. Corinthians x. s.
the distinctions between them are those only of genealogy and office; and therefore, that whatever is, or shall be communicated by God tQ Israel, is to be understood as respecting all equally. This idea, founded upon, proofs already adduced, and which need not here be repeated, we are to keep in. view, as we progress in ascertaining the covenant history of this people. Whether these proselytes are many or few, is of no consequence to the general enquiry.
Events proved, that a large proportion of this people, who here made such excellent professions, at least of the male adults, were false hearted. "With many of them, God was not well pleased." They sung his praises, but soon forgat his works. They murmured. They were disobedient. They were children without faith; and, instead of entering the promised land, fell victims to divine displeasure in the wilderness. But this presents no difficulty. The reconcileableness of it, with the spirituality and absolute nature of the promises of the covenant, and the relation it formed, has been explained. All are not Israel who are of Israel. The covenant itself implied, that there would be hypocrites and apostates,"under its visible administration. But let it be remarked, God speaks of Israel as his people, notwithstanding their disobedience, and their temporary idolatry. He does not immediately extirpate the offenders. He does not disown at^once the covenant alliance. He easily yields to the intercessions of their mediator, Moses. He illustrates and confirms his character, as the Lord God, gracious, and merciful, slow to anger, and ready to forgive. And this character we shall find exemplified towards Israel in every period of time, till the coming of the Messiah.• Nor is it displayed in a less clear, or less affecting manner, under the Gospel dispensation, and towards nominal Christians. Had God exterminated the offenders, upon the appearance of the first symptoms of disaffection of heart, without putting them upon farther . trial, that amiable part of his character, his slowness to anger, which it was so much a dictate of wisdom and