Imagens da página
PDF
ePub

it cautions a witness, requires an im- | foolish wise; a book of truth, that partial verdict of a jury, and furnishes detects all lies, and confutes all errors; the judge with his sentence; it sets and a book of life, that shews the way the husband as lord of the household, from everlasting death. and the wife as mistress of the table; It is the most compendious book in tells him how to rule, and her how to all the world; the most authentic, and manage,

the most entertaining history, that It entails honour to parents, and ever was published; it contains the enjoins obedience to children; it pre- most early antiquities, strange events, scribes and limits the sway of the wonderful occurrences, heroic deeds, sovereign, the rule of the ruler, and unparalleled wars. authority of the master; commands Ít describes the celestial, terrestrial, the subjects to honour, and the ser- and infernal worlds; and the origin of vants to obey; and promises the bless-the angelic myriads, human tribes, ing and protection of its Author to all and infernal legions. that walk by its directions.

It will instruct the most accomIt gives direction for weddings and plished mechanic, and the profoundest for burials; it promises food and rai-artist; it will teach the best rhetoriment, and limits the use of both; it cian, and exercise every power of the points out a faithful and eternal guar- most skilful arithmetician; puzzle the dian to the departing husband and wisest anatomist, and exercise the father : tells him with whom to leave nicest critic. his fatherless children, and in whom It corrects the vain philosopher, and his widow is to trust; and promises guides the wise astronomer; it exposes a father to the former, and a husband the subtile sophist, and makes diviners to the latter.

mad." It teaches a man how to set bis' It is a complete code of laws, a perhouse in order, and how to make his fect body of divinity; an unequalled will; it appoints a dowry for the wife, narrative; a book of lives, a book of and entails the right of the first-born; travels, and a book of voyages. and shews how the younger branches It is the best covenant that ever shall be left. It defends the rights of was agreed on, the best deed that all, and reveals vengeance to every de-ever was sealed; the best evidence frauder, over-reacher, and oppressor. that ever was produced, the best will

It is the first book, the best book, that ever was made, and the best testaand the oldest book in all the world. ment that ever was signed.

It contains the choicest matter, To understand it, is to be wise ingives the best instruction, and affords deed; to be ignorant of it, is to be the greatest pleasure and satisfaction destitute of wisdom. that ever was revealed.

It is the king's best copy, the magisIt contains the best laws, and pro- strate's best rule, the housewife's best foundest mysteries, that ever were guide, the servant's best directory, penned.

and young man's best companion.. It brings the best tidings, and af- It is the school-boy's spelling-book, fords the best comfort, to the inquiring and the learned man's masterpiece; and disconsolate.

it contains a choice grammar for a It exhibits life and immortality, and novice, and a profound treatise for a shews the way to everlasting glory. sage; it is the ignorant man's diction

It is a brief recital of what is past, ary, and the wise man's directory. and a certain prediction of all that is! It affords knowledge of witty invento come.

tions for the ingenious, and dark sayIt settles all matters in debate ; re- ings for the grave; and is its own intersolves all doubts, and eases the mind preter. and conscience of all their scruples. It encourages the wise, the warrior, It reveals the only living and true the racer, and the overcomer; and God and shews the way to him ; and promises, an eternal reward to the sets aside all other gods, and de- conqueror. . . scribes the vanity of them, and of all And that which crowns all is, that that trust in them.

the Author is without partiality, and In short, it is a book of laws to shew without hypocrisy,"in whom is no -right and wrong ; a book of wisdom, variableness, norshadow of a turning." that condemns all folly, and makes the

FROM AN OLD AUTHOR.

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

ESSAYS TO THE JEWs. tribes or families of Israel. It is the (Continued from col. 430.)

history of this people we are going to Essay V-Of the Natural Seed of consider, and in doing so, we would Abrahan.

advert to the design of their selection, HAVING, in a former part of these first, from the rest of the nations, and essays, established the fact, that Abra then from their brethren of the same ham had two different kinds of seed, family ; I mean, from Ishmael and -a natural and a spiritual; I proceed | Esau. to speak of them respectively; and We remarked, that this peculiarity shall accordingly begin with the for- of separation began in the calling of mer.

Abraham from his kindred and father's In speaking of this subject, I would house, to a land which he should afterremark, in the first place, that all the wards receive, or rather bis posterity, natural descendants of Abraham were for an inheritance ; but in which himnot incladed in the covenant which self was only to sojourn as a stranger God made with him. It is of the in a strange land, while he had his greatest importance to a right under- faith directed to a better country, that standing of the subject, that this dis-is, an heavenly. Heb. xi. 16. Here tinction be clearly kept in view ; for, the Lord blessed Abraham, because from not attending to it, many have he had obeyed his voice; and, though been the errors into wbich the Chris- he permitted him to go long childless, tian world have run, respecting these at length gave him a posterity, the children. It is, however, to be parti- destination of whom he was careful to calarly observed, that none but Isaac, secure before his death. Ishmael, and in the family of Abraham, and none his sons by Keturab, he sent away while but Jacob, in that of Isaac, were in- he yet lived, Gen. xxv. 6. ; but all his cluded in the covenant; or, which is goods and his riches, both in men-serthe same thing, were children of the vants and maid-servants, &c. were promise. All his other descendants, committed to Isaac as their rightful and the whole of his numerous house-heir; so that he was not only an heir hold, were indeed circumcised. But of promises yet far distant, but the this seems not to have been on the immediate possessor of the whole of ground that they were in the covenant, his father's substance. or heirs of the promise which God | Of Isaac sprang Esau and Jacob. made to him respecting his seed; but | But as it has been observed, “ that the because they were of his family; for purpose of God according to election it had been enjoined as a positive in-might stand," Rom. ix.11. God designstitution, that every male in his house, ed that the elder should serve the whether they were of his seed, or | younger, that the birthright and the bond servants, or strangers sojourning blessing should both be entailed upon among them, should be circumcised. Jacob; and that his family, and not

The natural descendants of Abra his brother's, should be the line to ham, strictly speaking, comprise se- which the promises belonged. veral people and nations ; but as it is Here, accordingly, terminates the with his descendants, in the line of separation of any of Abraham's natuIsaac and Jacob, that we have chiefly ral progeny ; for though Jacob had to do in this investigation, we shall twelve sons, several of whom were by restrict our remarks to them especial- no means superior in point of moral ly, They only were the children of the character to either Ishmael or Ésati, promise, in the strict sense of the word. they were all equally included in the And though there was a division in covenant, and formed throughout their the family of the one, no such thing generations the twelve heads of the took place in that of the other. Esau tribes of Israel. was separated from Jacob because he | By a variety of singular turns of was not a child of the promise, and providence, they were led into Egypt laid the foundation of a distinct peo--there oppressed for a long season ple by themselves, namely, the Edom- delivered from it-conducted through ites. But Jacob had no less than the wilderness and at last put in postwelve sons, all of whom were includ session of the promised land. . ed in the covenant, and none of them se- With respect to nations, God geneparated from their brethren, but were rally deals with them in their national honoured to be the twelve heads of the capacity, even in this life; blessing or 78.–VOL. VII.

2 K

punishing them according to their de- , such a manifestation of his power and serts. It was thus that he punished glory. The words of Moses, as apthe old world, the cities of the plain, plied to the Israelites shortly before overturned successively the great em- their crossing the Jordan, are astonishpires which held all the nations in ingly applicable to them as a nation, subjection, threatened the destruction throughout the whole of the period of Nineveh, gave the Jews a settle- they were united in that capacity. ment in the land of Canaan, and at | Deut. xxvii. 7-14. last cast them out. When the promise To a people thus blessed and honourof that land was first uttered, it was ed by their Creator, it was but natural intimated that four hundred years that they should, in their turn, honour must elapse, ere it could be accom- and reverence him. God, by becoming plished ; and this was given as a rea- their God, constituted them his peoson, that the “iniquity of the Amorites ple; and that they might know what is not yet full," Gen. xv. 16. But kind of reverence was due to so glorithat the Jews, though professors of the ous a majesty, he promulgated to them worship of the only true God, might his laws. not glory over these idolatrous and It has been thought by some, that wicked nations, they were positively the law delivered from Sinai demandinformed, that if they should be guilty ed nothing more than external obediof like crimes, the land would also ence, and that if this had only been vomit them out, as it had done its for- adhered to, they should not only have mer inhabitants. Lev. xviii. 25. xx. 22. secured, on the part of God, a per

The way in which God has blessed formance of all the promises, but that or punished nations, has generally he, demanding nothing more, would been by sending peace and prosperity be perfectly satisfied with such examong them; or by visiting them with terior worship and obedience. To us, war, pestilence, and famine, which however, it appears in a very different overturned, depopulated, humbled, light. We even question if ever such and brought them to their senses. All obedience was required by God at any these instruments were employed in period, or on any occasion, of any of delivering his people from Egypt, in his rational creatures. What, for inpreserving them in the wilderness, and stance, could be more carnal or exin giving them an establishment in the terpal in its nature, than the obedience promised land.

of a servant to his master ? But that The nations were so sensible that even this was not to be merely bodily there was something more than human service, but to flow from the heart, in the fate which attended Israel, that and to be done, not as to men, but to even the hardened Pharaoh was forced the Lord, is abundantly evident from to acknowledge the finger of God, and scripture. Thus extensive and spirimany of the other nations were com- tual, and demanding nothing less than pelled to apply to their imaginary the homage of the heart, should we deities to protect them from the arm consider the whole of God's commandof the Lord of hosts. And to keep ments. When therefore wespeak of his the Israelites themselves in their pro- promulgating laws, we do not suppose per station, duly were they reminded that those laws were designed merely that it was not by their sword, or their to regulate their conduct in life, while bow, or any might of their own, that the principles of the heart were left they had obtained their victories. out of the question. “ To love the

Never to any nation had the Lord Lord their God with all their heart, dealt as to that of Israel. All that he and soul, and mind, and strength ;" had promised to Abraham, its vene- this was the first and great command. rable founder, he had graciously ac-ment. And that God has an indispatcomplished; and the accomplishment able claim upon all his intelligent, was so wonderful, as must have struck and therefore accountable creatures, the beholders with admiration. He to such worship and reverence, is had indeed promised to be their God; | clear from the nature of the thing. If but little did they know, perhaps, that he created and upholds them every he was to dwell among them by the moment of their existence, reason symbols of his visible presence, and would dictate that they should live to that the ark of his testimony, which him, and not to themselves. was afterwards erected, was to be But the Lord had still a higher

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

claim upon the people of Israel. Hel Often, therefore, was that nation had not only selected them to be his in sunk into so dismal a state, by their a peculiar manner, in the covenant he propensity to these sins, that it was gave to Abraham, but he had delivered difficult to find almost any true and spithem from their Egyptian bondage, ritual worshippers among them. And and the hand of their oppressors. He often were their prophets commissionbad signified also his designs to cast ed with the most doleful tidings, that out the nations before them, and to give the Lord had seen their wickedness, them all the land of Canaan for a pos- and, behold, it was worse than Sodom; session in this world; and, under the and that therefore he would root op emblem of the earthly inheritance, to and exterminate them from the land, give them a better country, that is, an that they might know, and be conheavenly, in the world to come. Sure | founded, and never open their mouth ly then, love and gratitude to so mighty / any more, because of their shame and a deliverer, so kind a benefactor, were their iniquity. Ezek. xvi. but natural returns of sensibility and | Hence their repeated wars, their reason, on the part of the recipients; subjugations by other nations, and and whether they were so ingenuous their consequent captivities. It was as to render them or not, their duty | declared in the laws of the Lord, that was the same, and their gailt a thou- “the man that doeth them should live sand-fold aggravated in case of non- by them.” Accordingly, when the performance.

whole nation had avouched the Lord Again, God was not only to be the to be their God, as he had done them God of the nation of Israel, but he was to be his people, and were careful to to be their King. As a king, he en- walk in all the commandments, staacted laws, appointed judges to carry tutes, and ordinances which he had them into effect, and could always be given them,--the peace and prosperity consulted, and his mind obtained, by of the whole nation, in such seasons the Shechinah, or visible representa | of obedience, is very remarkable. Intion of his glorious presence which he stances of this will be found in the had placed among them.

times of the judges, and of the pious Thus was Israel, as a nation, more kings of Judah ; the former being complete than any other nation of the careful to walk in the ways which the earth. Their seeking to be conformed Lord had directed; the latter, to corto others, therefore, either in regard rect the abuses into which the people of the object of their worship, or of the had run, and to re-establish that anpower by which they were to be go- cient worship from which they had verned, were crimes the most heinous swerved. And thus it was, even with of which they could be guilty. It the whole nation, when the adminiswould have been, in effect, denying tration of justice and judgment were the Lord who had redeemed them, and observed by the kings, princes, and calling in question his right to pre-governors of the land ; notwithstandscribe such laws and statutes as, in ing, at no period can it be reasonably his infinite wisdom, he saw to be best. supposed that the heart of every inOn this basis, therefore, lay the great dividual was right with God. A fact controversy between God and that this, which cannot be controverted, nation. As the whole world had been and which tends to shew in what light given to idolatry," and had changed Israel, as a nation, were the people of the glory of the incorruptible God into the Lord, and how the blessings he an image made like to corruptible man, had promised were to be secured to and to birds, and four-footed beasts, them in their national capacity. and creeping things,” Rom. i. 23. the When thus speaking of their discommunication which Israel had with tinction, as a nation, from the other other nations, and the same natural nations of the world, it is necessary depravity of heart, made them eager | to be observed, that they were never to learn their ways. Not satisfied, allowed to conform to others, but that therefore, with the Lord's appoint others sojourning among them, bement, to choose him for their God and hoved necessarily to conform to them, their King, they must needs have gods else there could be no intercourse beof their own invention, and kings from tween them. Nor did such permisamong themselves, like the other na- sion extend further than to individutions of the earth.

| als, and that only to those sojourning

in their own land; for supposing that from Ishmael, the son of Abraham whole nations had wished to form al- by Hagar, or from Midian, one of his Jiances with Israel, and to have be- sons by Keturah; whichever of them come one with them, the people of it might be, it proves that Jethro was Israel, for very important reasons, a descendant of Abraham; and that, were not at liberty to enter into such although in the line of those excluded alliances.

from the covenant, in the acceptation In speaking of the natural sced of of which we speak, he was not excludAbraham, to whom the promises be-ed, however, from what is, strictly longed, we mentioned that it was ne- speaking, the covenant of grace. cessary to distinguish not only be- Job may be considered as another tween them and the other nations of instance of the same truth. It is the world, but between them and their generally supposed that he lived prior brethren, who, though of the same to Moses; but that it was subsequent family, had neither right por title to the to Abraham, is pretty evident from the same privileges. Both Ishmael and circumstances of one of Job's friends, Esau, though descendants of Abraham Bildad, being a Shubite, evidently a equally with Isaac and Jacob, were descendant of Shuah, one of the sons not, however, included among the of Abraham by Keturab, Gen. xxv. 6. people whom the Lord chose for him- Who were the immediate progenitors self; and therefore, being separated, of Job, is more than we can determine; they became founders of nations dis- but certain it is, that he was not a tinct by themselves. Respecting the descendant of Abraham in the line of other children which Abraham had by Jacob, and consequently not included Keturah, though we cannot affirm that in the promise respecting the seed of they also became a people distinct by | Abraham. Neither was he a sojourner themselves, certain we are that they among them, but lived in the east, in were separated from the seed to which that country to which Abraham sent the promises belonged, even by the his sons of the concubines, Gen. xxv.6. sanction of Abraham; and we have Yet was Job a spiritual worshipper of every reason to believe that what was the true God; and though not of that thus done by his sanction, would be line to whom the promises belonged, scrupulously adhered to by his after he was not, however, excluded from descendants.

the blessings of eternal life ; which In contemplating the many thousand he knew and believed should come descendants of Abraham, as many, or through the living Redeemer. Job perhaps more, by those who were xix. 25. never in the covenant, as by those who Those descendants of Abraham who were; how gloomy, and how contrary were not of the promise, carrying with to the truth, is the interpretation which them the knowledge of the true God, some give of the subject; representing might preserve it among them for it, in the sense of which we are speak- many generations, by which means ing, as the covenant of grace; and, of thousands of them might be saved. course, saving all, as it necessarily Indeed, it is so gross to suppose, that must, who were within its bonds, and exclusion from the promise of God to devoting to eternal perdition all who | Abraham, as it respected bis family, were not. But there are contrary or retention in it, was retention or facts in existence, which, when only | exclusion from the family of God, as known, would lead any reflecting | it respected their eternal state, that it mind to question all such interpreta- requires very little argument in order tions, and all such systems, as are to refute it. built upon them. Jethro, Moses' This leads us again to repeat some father-in-law, who was à Midianitish of the reasons why Abraham's family priest, was doubtless a wise and aby Isaac and Jacob appears to have good man, and one who feared the been selected and distinguished, not Lord, though he was not in the line of only from the nations in general, but those who were reckoned in the cove from the numerous branches which nant. It is probable he was a de- sprung from the same root. The disscendant of Abraham ; for as the Ish- tinguishing reason, I humbly appremaelites are called Midianites, Gen. hend, was the descent of the Messiah Xxxvii. 28. and as the Midianites in that partieular line; nor can I sapmust therefore have descended, either pose that ever there would have been

« AnteriorContinuar »