« FöregåendeFortsätt »
Subject. GOD'S COVENANTS WITH
THE TEMPORAL AND THE EVERLASTING COVENANTS; THEIR DIFFERENT CHARACTERS. THE FORMER EXEMPLIFIED IN THE HISTORY OF THE JEWS; THE LATTER IN THE SALVATION THROUGH JESUS CHRIST. MORAL INFERENCE.
GEN. xii. 3.
In thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed.
HE original promise of the Redeemer, Jesus Christ our Lord, who had been ordained from everlasting to repair the havoc of the Fall, and to "bruise the head". of him that occasioned it; this original promise, I repeat, had been made to Adam by his Almighty Creator immediately after the commission of his "presumptuous sin; and as the hope of such an eventual reco
very and deliverance was the best, and indeed the only, solace that could be applied to the sorrow of unhappy man, under his remorseful conviction of the "great offence;" so it pleased his merciful Maker to interweave this promise of rescue with the sentence of punishment: "I will put enmity "between thee and the woman," saith the Almighty, speaking to the serpent," and "between thy seed and her seed; it shall "bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his " heel."
This promise, indeed, from its conciseness, and the figurative expressions in which it is clothed, may appear to our conceptions to be dark and difficult of apprehension; but we may assure ourselves (for the assurance is only reasonable) that it was sufficiently intelligible to Adam to assuage his dread of being entirely cast off by God; and to inspire him with the encouraging expectation, that, at some subsequent period, an august character should arise from among his future progeny, who would heap utter destruction on the treacherous adversary that had seduced him into disobedience to the commandment of God.
Originating with this promise, the inti mations and predictions of a Saviour were, from time to time, vouchsafed to the suc
cessive generations of mankind; and, as the tide of ages rolled on, and the period of their destined accomplishment became less remote, so their number was enlarged, and their meaning more clearly and forcibly expressed. They form, indeed, the most conspicuous feature of the scriptures of the Old Testament; and every book of it, either in prophetic annunciations, in significant types, or in plain declarations, refers to Jesus Christ.
That the gracious promise of a future redeemer made to Adam comforted the heart, and tranquillized the spirit, of Noah, amid the desolation occasioned by the waters. of the Flood, may well be concluded from the terms of the blessing which this Patriarch pronounced upon his son Shem, after he and Japheth had fulfilled the dutiful act to their father, related in the ninth chapter of Genesis; for the expression, "God shall "dwell in the tents of Shem," is so emphatic, and obviously so pregnant with meaning, that we can scarcely doubt of its referring to the great blessing of a Saviour for mankind, pledged by God, to, the fallen. parent of the human race.
Whatever might be the intimations, however, of the seed of the woman," given to the fathers before the Flood; we find no
recorded one which is at all to be compared in clearness and particularity with those which were afforded by the Almighty to the Patriarch Abraham.
This great and good man, who (as St. James tells us) was honoured with the title of the "friend of God," found especial favour in the sight of his heavenly Master, from the implicit faith with which he received his promises, and the ready obedience which he paid to his commands. So exalted was his reliance on God's word that (as St. Paul says) he "against hope "believed in hope, that he might become "the father of many nations, according to "that which was spoken,-So shall thy "seed be: And being not weak in faith, "he considered not his own body, now dead, when he was about an hundred
years old, neither yet the deadness of "Sarah's womb: he staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but "was strong in faith, giving glory to God, being fully persuaded that what he had "promised he was able to perform." And so exemplary was his obedience to the divine will, that, when commanded by the Almighty to quit the land of his birth and nurture, and the society of his kindred and friends, he hesitated not a moment to com
ply with the heavenly mandate; nay, what is more than this, his sense of duty to God triumphed over all the affections of the heart, and all the yearnings of nature; for being called upon by him to offer up his "only son Isaac," he obeyed without delay or murmur, journeyed into the land of Moriah with the intended victim, built an altar for the purpose, "laid the wood "in order, bound Isaac and laid him on "the altar upon the wood, and stretched "forth his hand, and took the knife to slay "his son;" leaving to mankind a striking lesson, that there is no declaration which God has solemnly made that should not be received with the most implicit faith, and no commandment which he has clearly pronounced that should not be fulfilled with the most dutiful obedience.
It was this piety of heart, and excellence of conduct, which brought down upon Abraham the blessing of God's favour. 66 I "know him," says the Almighty, "that he "will command his children, and his "household after him, and they shall keep
the way of the Lord, to do justice and "judgment." God saw that Abraham was a fit depository for a more explicit revelation respecting the future Saviour of the world; that he would earnestly engraft into