« FöregåendeFortsätt »
his offspring the knowledge of this "great "salvation;" and sacredly transmit to his descendants" the glad tidings of great "joy," which should be "unto all people." He therefore graciously condescended to communicate to Abraham, more particularly than he had done to others, the merciful designs of his providential goodness. "entered into covenant" with Abraham, as the scriptures express God's dealings with the highly favoured Patriarch; he engaged, of his own free grace, to visit him and his posterity with peculiar blessings; and unreservedly promised, that from his stock should proceed "the desire of all "nations"-that "seed of the woman," which would bless all the families of the "earth."
The first part of this "covenant" of God with Abraham was of a more personal and confined description: "I will "make of THEE a GREAT NATION," said the
Almighty; "and "and I will bless THEE, and "make thy name great, and thou shalt be
a blessing; and I will bless them that "bless thee, and curse him that curseth. "thee."
The second part of the covenant was of a general and comprehensive nature; not limited to a person or a family, but
embracing the universal race of mankind: " in thee shall ALL the families of the EARTH "be blessed;" recognizing the promise made to our first parents; the covenant entered into with Noah, who was "heir to "the righteousness which is by faith; and the predictive blessing to Shem, the ancestor of Abraham, that "God should "dwell in the tents of Shem."
But further marks of the divine favour awaited the obedient Patriarch. Approved of God, for his prompt and cheerful submission to the injunction to remove into a strange and distant land, the Almighty was pleased to renew, repeatedly, his covenant with Abraham; and to treat him as a "friend," by communicating to him, in more instances than one, the secret counsels of his future dispensations.
Shortly after his settlement in Canaan the Lord again appeared unto Abraham, and made an absolute gift of the whole of the land in which the Patriarch dwelt, to him and his posterity; and said unto him, "Lift up thine eyes, and look from the "place where thou art, northward and "southward, and eastward and westward; "for all the land which thou seest, to thee "will I give it, and to thy seed for ever. "And I will make thy seed as the dust of
"the earth; so that if a man can number "the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed "also be numbered. Arise, walk through "the land, in the length of it, and the "breadth of it, for I will give it to thee.” Again, when" in a vision," Abraham expressed a fear that the blessings assured to him might fail, seeing that he was "child"less; the Lord graciously cheered him, not only with a renewal of his promise, but with a prediction of the eventual prosperity of his countless descendants, after they had endured the temporary Egyptian servitude. "And the Lord said unto Abram, Know of "a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger "in the land that is not theirs, and shall "serve them; and they shall afflict them four "hundred years. And also that nation whom
they shall serve will I judge; and after"wards they shall come out with great sub"stance. But in the fourth generation they "shall come hither again." And, later in the life of the Patriarch, when he was now ninety-nine years old," the Lord again appeared unto Abram, and "talked with him;' and established "an everlasting covenant with him, and his seed after him; and repeated the promise of the land of Canaan to his posterity; and changed his name from Abram (or high father) to Abraham (or
the father of a multitude), and appointed the rite of circumcision as an external token of his covenant; and promised to the Patriarch a, son to his wife Sarai, whom he directed to be thence called Sarah (or, mother of many nations), a name indicative of her innumerable descendants.
Nor was this all; for when God had determined to destroy the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, for their " "crying wicked"ness," he would not "hide from Abra"ham" "the thing" which he was about to do, but communicated his intended judgment to him; and engaged, at the earnest supplication of the Patriarch, that if" only "ten righteous persons" could be found in Sodom, he would not destroy it " for their "sake." And finally, after God had been pleased to put Abraham's faith and obedience to a trial as severe as human virtue could endure, the offering up of Isaac, "his
only son," the object of all his hopes, and the heir of all the promises; and had found the Patriarch faithful, under these most searching circumstances; the Lord was pleased to ratify all his engagements with him in this awful manner: 66 By "myself have I sworn, saith the Lord, for, "because thou hast done this thing, and "hast not withheld thy son, thine only son;
"that in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as "the stars of the Heaven, and as the sand "which is on the sea shore and thy seed "shall possess the gate of his enemies; and "IN THY SEED SHALL ALL THE NATIONS 66 OF THE EARTH BE BLESSED; because "thou hast obeyed my voice."
The sketch which I have laid before of God's condescending covenants with "the father of the faithful," naturally suggests some remarks upon the two distinct promises which these covenants embraced; the one temporal, including only a certain portion of time, and a small part of mankind; the other everlasting, extending to all nations, and ending only in eternity.
The dispersion of mankind which succeeded the confusion of tongues, at the building of the tower of Babel, though necessary for the peopling of the globe, and for the support of the increasing tribes of mankind, was followed, notwithstanding, by some evil consequences. The principal of these bad effects was the interruption which it occasioned to the progress of the true religion.
Removed to a greater or less distance from the righteous family of Shem, to whom alone (for the sake of their piety and sin