« AnteriorContinuar »
Essays to the Jews--Abrahamic Covenant.
634 diversified than the ancients respect- | name, are little more than a modificaing their theological creed. Spinozation of infidelity; for if there be any agrees with some of the ancients in truth in the scriptures, it is not less maintaining God and the universe to criminal to reject its distinguishing be the same. To this opinion Lucas doctrines, than to deny the existence and Tolland also subscribe ; and it is of their divine Author,--the eternal generally thought that Hume's opini- and triune God. ons were something similar. Des Elgin.
J. G. Cartes imagined his visionary vortices
(To be continued.) to be God; and Mr. Pope observes, that
ESSAYS TO THE JEWS. “All are hat parts of one stupendous whole, Whose bod y nature is, and God the soul.”
(Coutinned from col. 618.) Some modern infidels have believed. | Essay VI.--Of the Spiritual seed of with Confucius, an ancient Chinese
Abraham. pbilosopher, that this world has ex- | As a spiritual seed is something enisted in its present form from all tirely different from a natural, it is eternity; and to this opinion Sir Wil- necessary, in the first place, to shew liam Temple yields his cordial assent.
in what the difference consists, and to Others, again, allow that it was creat
describe the manner in which men are ed in time, but reject the Mosaic ac
constituted spiritual. And here it count, attributing to it an earlier date,
onght to be observed, though indeed by some thousand years at least;
it be a truth generally admitted, that while a third class adopt the atomical
all men are naturally on a level before hypothesis, with all its accompanying
God. The universal depravity of absurdities. But as the far greater
| human nature, is a doctrine clearly number of modern infidels can give no
taught in scripture; and the distincintelligible account of their creed, they
tion between the converted and unrewill do well, on this interesting sub
generate is constantly kept in view. ject, to consult Cudworth's Intellectual | The two great heads of these respecSystem, where they may obtain some tive bodies are distinguished from valuable information.
each other, 1 Cor. xv. 45, the one being Now, while it appears evident from styled the first or earthly, the other the foregoing remarks, that infidels the second or heavenly man. And in are more diversified in their senti conformity to the beads, so are the ments than those who profess the re respective members, John iii. 31. ligion of Jesus; it will also be obvious, | Philip. iii. 20. that the subjects on which Christians To constitute men partakers of the differ in opinion, are of much less im- first nature, nothing more is necessary portance than those on which infidels than that they be born of men; but disagree; and it may be confidently to constitute them partakers of the predicted, that the differences of second, it is necessary that they be opinion which at present agitate the also born of God, or the Spirit, as our Christian world, will be completely | Lord teaches, John iii. 5, &c. reconciled long before infidels are The change which is produced, in agreed among themselves on the lead- | thus bringing men out of darkness ing features of their natural theology. | into God's marvellous light, is always
In the preceding remarks, no dis- accompanied with a belief of God's re. tinction has been made between vealed truth. As Abraham believed in deism and atheism; for the writer the Lord, and it was counted to him for considers them so nearly allied to each righteousness, so they believing, in other, that he must be a profound like manner, are hence counted the metaphysician who can draw the line children of Abraham; and are blessed, of demarcation between them. The like him, with the blessing of justificalearned Dr. Samuel Clarke, in his tion. To be believers of the truth of Evidences of Natural and Revealed God, therefore, to be born again, to Religion, observes, that “every deisti- be created anew in Christ Jesus, to cal pretence must, of necessity, termi- be justified, adopted, and sanctified, Date in downright atheism." And it are terms of nearly the same import, is melancholy to reflect, wbatever mayor inseparable the one from the other, be said to the contrary, that some sys- and all relate to one and the same tems which assume the Christian character. Such was the character of
Abraham as à spiritual father, and! In regard to the extent of this apsuch is the character of his spiritual pointment, it is said, that he was to children.
| be made the father of many nations. In considering Abraham as the fa- But that the word many was not to be ther of all believers from the beginning limited, as signifying only a part, the to the end of the world, it is necessary apostle puts the matter beyond à that we should recar to the original doubt, when he declares, that Abraappointment. When his name was ham had a promise that he should be changed from Abram, which signifies heir of the whole world, Rom. iv. 13. a father by eminence, to that of Abra- When God devised the scheme of ham, which denotes the father of a salvation by the mission of bis Son multitnde, this was assigned by Jeho- into the world, he said, “It is a light vah as a reason, “For a father of thing" that he should redeem his peomany nations I have made, or con- ple Israel, he shall be for salvation stituted, thee," Gen. xvii. 5. The to the ends of all the earth.” He had word father, in this passage, should accordingly “the heathen given him not only be connected with the change for an inheritance, and the uttermost of the name, but with yom, which our ends of the earth for a possession." translators have rendered made, and Psal. ii. And in conformity to this which properly signifies to be consti- design, Christ bimself commissioned tuted or appointed to a particular thing. his apostles to go into all the world, The Lxx have it Tegelka 08, I have placed and preach the glad tidings to every or constituted thee. It thus denotes creature. the sense in whicb Abraham was the Thus, though salvation was of the father of many nations, and distin- | Jews, blessed be God, it was at no guishes between the relation in which period entirely confined to them. Behe stands to them, and that in which ing free as the air we breathe, and he stood to his natural posterity, The bright as a morning without clouds, it Jast was a relation of an ordinary kind, was not to be monopolized by them, and denoted no more, even in Abra- or any other who should receive it, ham, than what it does in any other but diffused abroad as a common inhuman character. The first, however, terest-a gladdening message sent to is far otherwise. There is here no the nations to the whole world, in relation by natural descent, nor any which all are equally concerned, and but such as flow from a similarity of from the blessings of which none are internal principles and dispositions, excluded. and which can be produced only by The means of salvation, it is true, the power of the truth upon the mind. were for a long season, in a manner, Hence it follows, that the very truth confined to Israel; but in contemwhich Abraham believed, is said to plating the spiritual Israel, we must beget others to a belief of it likewise; extend our thoughts beyond the bounand on this account, all believers daries of the literal Israel, and include being the children of faith, and be all the true worshippers of God gotten of the truth, are the spiri- | throughout the whole world, from the tual children of Abraham. The con beginning to the end ; for it was of nexion between Abraham asa spiritual all such that Abraham was constitated father, and believers as his spiritual the spiritual father. In the antedilachildren, is most explicitly stated by vian age, he had many children, many Paul, Gal, iii. 6,7. “ Even as Abraham who believed, as he did, in the promisbelieved God, and it was counted to ed Saviour, and who rejoiced to see bis him for righteousness. Know ye, day afar off. Jude relates a predietherefore, that they which are of faith, tion of Enocb, (ver. 14,) from which it the same are the children of Abraham," appears, that they even understood That is to say, his spiritual children; the doctrine of the future jadgment. forthe apostle cannotoncebe supposed Believers in that age were distinguishas denying the relation which sub-ed by several remarkable characters. 4 sisted at the same time between Abra. It is said of Abel, that he sacrificed in bam and his natural descendants. It faith, Heb. xi. 3.; and when Enos was is, therefore, to an appointment or born, that "men began to call upon constitution of a spiritual kind, and the name of the Lord," Gen. iv.26. not to natural descent, that the word of Enoch it is said, that he walked with ghas evidently refers..
| God, Gen. 5. 24. and of Noah, that
"he was a just man, and perfect in his | Further, in looking into these genegeneration,” Gen. vi. 9.
| alogies, we find, that Uz was a deThere is nothing, in the Mosaic ac- scendant of Shem, in the second genecount of that period, said respecting ration. Now this Uz was, no doubt, the number of God's spiritual wor- the founder of that province or counshippers ; but considering that the try in the East, wbich went by the epoch itself extended nearly to two same name, and in which the patriarch thousand years, and that the lives of Job dwelt. But it ought to be obmen were so exceedingly prolonged, served, that between Uz and Abra. as to afford them much opportunity | bam, there were no fewer than eight for the propagation of the truth, they generations, and for reasons already would perhaps make greater advances adduced, Job must have been still in this respect, than we are aware of. further distant. Supposing it, then, But if truth spread, we know, so to bave been ten or twelve generadid corruption, and that to such a tions, that is to say, about the descent degree, that a boly and righteous God, of Israel into Canaan,-a space, I sup. bordened, as it were, by the wicked-pose, of nearly six hundred years, ness of his creatures, determined to what a view does it give us of the eat them off, by destroying them all state of religion in those places during with a flood. Though Noah and his that period? The history of Job and family were the only persons presery. his friends affords a lively view of ed from this dreadful catastrophe, I their deep researches into the things hardly think it probable that there of God. were no other spiritual worshippers We may observe, further, that the at that time, besides him, upon the worship of the true God seems also to earth. Be this as it may, however, we have been preserved by that line of may be assured, that Noah, who was Shem's descendants in wbich Abraa preacher of righteousness to the old ham came ; for the God of Abraham world, would be careful to lay the is likewise styled the God of Nahor. foundations of the new, by communi. For the same purpose, we may refer to cating God's purposes of grace, and of the account given in the xxivth chapthe world to come. And if Noah was ter of Genesis, respecting Abraham's not the means of bringing a goodly choosing a wife to his son. Principle, number to the knowledge of the truth, it would appear, restrained him from (considering that he lived six hundred seeking one among the daughters of years previous to the flood, and three Canaan, where he sojourned. He hundred and fifty after it, and had therefore sent to his father's house ; that extraordinary event to refer to,) and, lo! when his servant came, and he must have been one of the most related to them his message, we find unsuccessful preachers 'eyer divinely him among a people who knew and commissioned. In regard to the more | acknowledged the Lord, and who immediate descendants of this patri- decided accordingly, with his fear bearch, it appears beyond a doubt, that fore their eyes, ver. 50. The sons of the fear of the Eternal was in the Abraham by Keturah, having also hearts of many of them.
been favoured with similar privileges, Many, even of the descendants of would carry the knowledge of the true Canaan, who are generally considered God, and of his various transactions as having been all devoted to perdi- with Abraham, with them into the tion, in consequence of the curse pro- east, whither they were sent; and nounced upon their predecessor Ham, thus preserve the knowledge of them appear to have been by no means in those remote parts for many ages. destitute of this gracious principle. We find, accordingly, that one of Job's Compare the genealogy of Ham, Gene- friends was a Shubite, evidently a sis x. with what is related respecting descendant of Shuah, one of the sons Abraham, and Abimelech king of of Abraham thus dispersed; and the Gerar, chap. xx. And let it not be same may be remarked concerning forgotten, that, at this time, God him- | that excellent youth, Elihu. He was self bears them witness, that they a Buzite, a descendant of Buz, son of were not so absolutely profligate and Nahor, brother to Abraham. abandoned as is generally supposed, This investigation, had we time to by saying, “ their iniquity is not yet pursue it, would not only be delightfull," chap. xy. 16.
| ful, but highly useful; as it would 79,-VOL. VII.
open to the mind one connected view | outer darkness, where there shall be of the family of God, and shew how | wailing, and gnashing of teeth." crroneously those people judge, who What, then,was their situation here are for confining the whole knowledge as the children of the kingdom, when of the true God, then existing among hereafter they shall be found to bave men, to the Israelitish nation.
no right nor title to a place in the · But to place matters in a right kingdom of glory? Whether were point of view, respecting that nation, they spiritual or carnal persons ? and the spiritual seed of Abraham, of Whether were they the children of the wbich we are speaking, a few further kingdom by faith in Christ Jesus, or observations will be necessary. merely by natural descent from Abra
Two different principles are there- bam ? It was by the latter, undoubtfore to be particularly observed,--the edly; and for want of the former it one, that all the natural posterity of was, that they could not be admitted Abraham, in the line of Jacob, were into the kingdom of glory. Had they actually in the covenant,—the other, been the spiritual seed of Abraham, that notwithstanding this, they were as they were his natural, they would, not all spiritual ; consequently, many most assuredly, have been as readily who were included in the covenant, in admitted into the kingdom of heaven the literal sense, had no interest in it and of glory, as, being his natural, whatever in the spiritual. Upon what they were into the kingdom which God other principle can we account for established upon earth with Abrabam these words of our Saviour, Mat, viii. and his seed, till Christ should come. 11, 12. “ That many shall come from Hence, all those who were related to the east and west, and shall sit down Abraham, not merely in the flesh, but with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the spirit, had a place assigned in the kingdom of heaven; but the them, not in the kingdom of Israel and children of the kingdom shall be cast land of Canaan only ; but in that which out !” From which passage two things both typified, and which was, the are evident: first, that the children of grand and ultimate object of their the kingdom were the Jews; for it is faith. So we read of the thousands between them, and the centurion who who were sealed out of every tribe, in applied to Christ in behalf of his ser- the book of the Revelation, chap. vii. vant who was sick of the palsy, that | These are the spiritual Israel, selected the contrast, in respect of their faith, from among the carnal; and with these is here made, as we learn from verse the apostle John connects “the multi10th. The other circumstance, equal-tude which no man cap number," — ly obvious, is, the expulsion even of the redeemed “ of all nations, and these children of the kingdom. Now kindreds, and people, and languages." the question comes to be,--On what It is the whole family of God, thus account were they expelled, or rather, created anew in Christ Jesus, the renot admitted, into the kingdom of deemed of all nations, Gentiles as well heaven? The reason is obvious. It as Jews, wbo are the spiritual seed of was manifestly for their want of faith. Abraham. And with what ap'exalted “When Jesus heard it," (the centu- view of the greatness and grandeur of rion's account of himself, “he mar- this family, are we presented in the velled, and said to them that followed, scriptures of truth. The scriptures Verily I say unto you, I have not represent it as but a light or small found so great faith, no, not in Israel. | thing for the Saviour to redeem such And I say unto you, that many shall of his people as belonged only to the come,” &c. If then the Jews were Israelitish pation; he was to be for really the children of the kingdom, salvation to the ends of all the earth. and were not, for want of faith, ad- The bulk of the Jewish nation, far from mitted to a participation of its bless regarding the salvation even of their ings in the world of glory; does not own souls, yet pluming themselves this shew that the interest they had in on account of their external privileges, the kingdom here, arose from some became proud, self-conceited, tensoriother source than that of personalous, and disposed to say to others, conversion to God, and belief of the | "Stand by, for I am holier than thou." truth? Here they are said positively They would have no dealings with to be " the children of the kingdom ; Samaritans-counted sinners among but hereafter they shall be cast into the Gentiles as an unclean thing
vehemently opposed their admission they shall differ in any thing from what into the kingdom of heaven, contra- they respectively were in the converdicting and blaspheming. But God, sion of myriads at the first promulgawho was found of others besides them, tion of the gospel. The doctrines of and that not only before, but after the cross, which were a stumbling, they had been selected to be his pecu- block to the Jews, and foolishness to liar people, shewed his impartiality the Greeks, were, notwithstanding, the and readiness to accept “ all, in every power of God and the wisdom of God nation, that fear him and work righte-unto salvation, to every one that be, ousness," Acts x. 25. He gave, there- lieved, to the Jew first, and also to the fore, the severest check to the bigotry | Greek. And it is still by the same of the Jews, first by the reception of means that a people are to be made will, Cornelius and his companions into the ing in the day of the Saviour's power, church, and afterwards by commis- | Truth alone is to be exbibited, and by sioning his servant Paul to go far truth alone is he to subdue the nations hence among the Gentiles, and to and the people under him. preach the glad tidings to them. Thus must a spiritual or believing When the Jews rejected the doctrine seed, whether Jews or Gentiles, als of the apostles, counting themselves ways have regard to the truth wbich unworthy of eternal life, as the scrip converts them; and by the faith of ture expresses it, they said, “ Lo! we which they live,---overcome the world, turn to the Gentiles.” To the Gen- / -worship God in the spirit,-rejoice tiles, accordingly, they did turn ; tra- in Christ Jesus,- and make no provelling far hence among the nations, vision for the flesh,-by which also preaching the gospel of the kingdom they are justified, adopted, and maof God. And the effect was, though tured for eternal glory. some mocked and persecuted those Many, it is true, in every ago, proherald3 of the truth, yet others re- fess to be of the truth, who, neverthe, ceived with meekness the ingrafted less, are not; but these exceptions word, which was able to save the soul. make no difference in regard to the Disciples were converted, -churches general position, that the spiritual planted, - ordinances instituted, children of Abraham are such only as apostolical instructions written, cir- know God, and are known of him. culated, and to be transmitted to pos- Mere profession, in this point, makes terity, as the only rule of faith and nothing to the purpose ; for if any practice,
man have not the same spirit of faith But gloriously as the truth triumph- which Abraham had, he cannot be ed in the oarly ages, it was only an reckoned among the number of his earnest or sample of what should take spiritual children: wbile, on the place in latter times. The first-fruits contrary, “they who are of faith, the of the Gentiles were then admitted same are the children of Abraham," into the church ; but there was a whole | Gal. iii. 7. harvest, a fulness of them, spoken of, To place this subject in a yet clearer to be reserved till the time appointed light, I shall conclude this essay by a of the Father, and, with them, his ran- remark or two from Dr. Owen. “Two somed from among the Jews are also privileges,” says he, “did God grant to be gathered in.
to Abraham, upon his separation to a Hitherto the gospel of the kingdom special interest in the old promise or has been published but partially covenant. among the nations. But we live in “Ist. That according to the flesh, he the triumphant expectation, that it should be the father of the Messiah, shall yet be diffused and propagated the promised seed, who was the very throughout the whole habitable world; life of the covenant, the fountain and and the present times afford the pleas- | cause of all the blessings contained in ing aspect of the dawn of this glorious it. That this privilege was temporary, period beginning to break forth. the thing itself doth demonstrate. I
Though the latter-day glory, both “2dly. Together with this, he had · as it respects the nations and the in- also another privilege granted to him,
gathering of the Jews, be equally the namely, that his faith, whereby he was subject of prophecy ; yet we shall err personally interested in the covenant, most egregiously, if we imagine, that should be the pattern of the faith of the in effectiog either the one or the other, ) church, in all generations; and that