« FöregåendeFortsätt »
a new disclosure of his blessed will, and separated and set apart, and, in the strictest sense, took a people to himself.
In Abraham's being called out and separated from the world, and received, whilst here, into the pale of the Holy Sanctuary, a disclosure was clearly made of the great truth of the Kingdom of Heaven as coming upon the earth. Before this transaction, it had been fully revealed, that there was a power above which could protect the Righteous, and that a sanctuary for them existed in the heavens. Enoch had been translated. to that high and lioly place, to dwell with God in heaven; but in this transaction a view was given of the adorable truth, that the Sanctuary and Tabernacle of God was about to be translated to the earth, and that the Lord would become Esnanuel; that he would bow his heavens and come down, and would dwell with men on the earth.
Agreeably to the great purpose of exhibiting in the world the truth of the kingdom of God, this compact with Abraham is seen to include men, women and children; all those, of every relation, who are naturally and necessarily assoeiated together in simple societies, as families, households, &c..... This it may be observed, comports with every instance given in the Scriptures of covenants of God with men, and of his dispensations accordingly; which, uniformly, have included the whole circle of connections with which they are inseparably united by the bonds of nature and moral obligations, viz. their wives and children, and all belonging to them as members of their families or houses.....Such were the compacts with Adam, Noah and Lot; with the particular families of Israel in Egypt, that they Inight be saved from the sword of the destroying angel; with the harlot Rahab, and the men of Gibeon; with Levi, and Aaron, and Phinehas for the priesthood; and with David for the kingdo n..... When the nature and design of the church state, as forming a distinct society and government in the world is considered, it will be perceived that had it not been set up in this form, it would, in its operation, have dissolved the social compact. And having learned that the world was created by Jesus Christ, we may well conclude that the setting up of his church would not break in upon his original plan, and violate the union of society in this domestic state, which is founded in the marriage bond, with respect to which, as has been shewn, man was made at first in the image of God.
Thenotion entertained by some, that the church institution does not contemplate the whole state and condition of a proper and perfect society, and that its design may be answered by associations merely of a moral and religious nature, is utterly repugnant to the truth.....Societies formed by the voluntary association of individuals, without regard to their natural and social compacts, such as households, &e. may answer purposes for the improvement of literature and the arts and sciences, and for the promotion of agriculture and commerce; and we may, perhaps, add the promotion of religion, virtue and morality; but societies so formed cannot, in the nature of things, answer the great purpose of the call of Abraham, viz. of exhibiting to the world a living pattern of the family and society of God, for they do not shew the features of a household or a commonwealth, no not in miniature, much less those of a nation, a kingdom, or a world put in subjection unto the Lord from heaven.
In order to perfect the state of a community, such as we now contemplate, two things are necessary, viz, a land for a possession, in which
they may dwell as a people alone, and a government for the establishment of good order, justice and judgment, and affording them protection, which things are often expressed by two words, king and country; also, in such a state of society there arises necessarily two great obligations, viz, that of patriotism or attachment to the country, and that of loyalty or fidelity to the government.
Accordingly this community, in the family of Abraham, in conformity to the most perfect view of a society, was constituted a distinct people and kingdom..... It was at first set up, expressly, in relation to a land or country, and a seed, which was Christ, who should possess the gate of his enemies, and under all the obligations resulting from such a state. And though Abraham did not immediately enjoy these great interests, yet they were so secured to him, and made his own by the immutable promise of God, that he became obligated to act, in relation to them, in-the same manner as if they had been in actual possession. The covenant with Abraham, as he received it, is properly styled the Covenant of Promise; but as it was the promise of God, who cannot lie, and as it was the promise of a country, and of a Christ, it was a principle by which he was separated and distinguished from all other people; an institution whereby he and his became of course embodied and formed into a distinct family and nation, and which afforded a ground for the erection of an establishment for perpetual generations.
Wherefore, being thus called according to the promise of God, Abraham left his native country, and separated from his people and kindred, those excepted with whom he was connected in the family bond, and inspired by a hearty patriotism, he set his face steadfastly toward the promised country, and was not mindful of that from whence he came out, but sojourned in the land of promise, dwelling in tabernacles, for he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God; and also, conformably to an oliligation of allegiance, he, together with Isaac and Jacob, became accustomed to sware by tho. name of the Lord, and to give his name to altars and to places in the land, as acknowledging his sovereignty over them, and over the territories which they sought for an everlasting habitation. And to prove fully their affection and fidelity to the government, they established and brought forward a revenue for its support, as Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils to Melchisedec; and afterward Jacob, in the most solemn inanner, at Bethel, established the revenue of tithes by a standing law.
Respecting Melchisedec, King of Salem, whose name by interpretation is King of Righteousness, and his title King of Peace, and who was also Priest of the Most High God, it is apparent that he was made like unto the Son of God, and set up at Salem, the same is Jerusalem, in all this greatness, and clothed with this divine authority, with an express view to the new scene now opening in the call of Abraham, that, in a figure, yea, in something more than a figure, he might see ilio glory of his royal grant; and that not only, in the land before him, he might see the largeness, the pleasant situation, and the excellence of the promised country, but also, in this wonderfil person, he miglit see the name, the nature, the power and blessedness of that government which should complete his felicity in the kingdom of God. For this purpose this great king and most illustrious priest met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and brought forth to bread and wine, and blessed him in the name of
the Most High God, and blessed the Most High God for his victory; and also as an acknowledgment of a relation subsisting between them as between a prince and his subjects, Abrahamgave, and Melchisedec received of him, tithes of all the spoil.....So clearly, and on such joyful, high and triumphant ground, did Abraham see the day of the Son of Man..... In these transactions he entered, as it were, into the kingdom of righteousness and peace, and enjoyed, as believers do. now, the earnests and foretastes of glory.
It has already been shewn, that the things promised to the people of God, such as a realm, dominion, &c. are in substance of an eternal nature, and belong essentially to the Divine Being, and are all summed up in the promise, I will be your God; so that the promise to Abraham is to be understood as being the promise of God; not only as he is the promiser, but also as himself is the promised good. And the covenant of Abraham may be summed up in the promise of God, and a call or command given to him according to the nature of the promise, i. e. he was laid under such obligations as the nature of the things promised, a country, and a kingdom of righteousness, necessarily implies; which view agrees with the present state of the people of God.
We must, however, contemplate the relation of Abraham in the covenant, in a very essential circumstance, different from the present standing of believers; the redemption work being performed, believers now stand in union with Christ simply in relation to the promises; but in a previous state, a standing in union with Christ, as in the Holy Sanctuary, necessarily connected them with the bonds of his servicework; for here the altar of God was erected, and on this ground the whole immense service was required....This view will lead us to exam