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INTIMATIONS OF THE GLORIOUS EPIPHANY IN THE
PROMISES MADE TO ABRAHAM.
In consulting the divine oracles, in the order in which they have been delivered to mankind, we may justly reckon a series to commence with the call of Abraham. This was a remarkable epocha in the history of the divine dispensations. The patriarchal era I reckon to have ended with Job. The book of Job may be justly considered as the most valuable remains of the patriarchal times. *
In searching what the members of the patriarchal church knew concerning the advent of Christ, we have seen that they were taught to expect, in the “ seed of the woman,” the conqueror of Satan. They were told, that “ the Lord” would come, with “ his holy myriads,” to judge a wicked race, which should be upon the earth in the latter days — they were encouraged to look upon this expected Lord in the character of their Redeemer, their protecting kinsman — and to believe, that on his standing upon the earth, they should arise from the dead, and see the consummation of all their hope, and of all their desires, in beholding the incarnate Deity, God of their flesh.
Abraham, called out from the midst of a world “ refusing to retain God in their knowledge,” and fast lapsing
* See Mr. Good's Preface to his Book of Job.
into idolatry, is now * made the depository of new promises, and is destined to be the progenitor of a family and nation, among whom we are henceforth to look for all the divine revelations vouchsafed to mankind a nation, with whose history and destinies we shall find all future deliverances to be accomplished by the expected Redeemer, involved and intimately connected : henceforth, to use these terms by way of anticipation, “ Salvation is of the Jews.” And this we shall discover, as we proceed, is not only true with respect to their instruinentality at the first advent; but also with respect to some mysterious connexion between the latter scenes of their history and the coming of the Redeemer in his glory. We must, therefore, always keep in view what befals, and what is expected to befal, the Abrahamic family; and perhaps we must add, whatever concerns that remarkable district of the globe which is appointed to them as the lot of their inheritance.
“ Now the Lord had said unto Abraham, Get thee out of , thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will show thee. And I will make of thee a great nation, 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; and in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed." +
“ And the Lord said to Abraham, after that Lot had separated from him: Lift up thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art, northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward. For all the land that thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever. And I will make thy seed as the
According to the common chronology, 1921 B. C.
2078 B. C.
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 in the breadth of it; for I will give it unto thee.” *
Again, on receiving the name of Abraham :
“ A father of many nations have I made thee. And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee. And I will establish my covenant between me and thee, and thy seed after thee, in their generations, for an everlasting covenant; to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee. And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God." +
Lastly, on his obedient faith, when ready to offer his son Isaac on the appointed spot, the highly destined mountains of Moriah :
• By myself have I sworn, saith the Lord”-“ that in blessing, I will bless thee; and in multiplying, I will multiply thy seed as the stars of heaven, and as the sand that is
the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed." I
What Abraham could have understood by the bare terms of these promises respecting future and eternal blessings, it is not our purpose to inquire. It is probable, however, that being possessed of all the knowledge of the patriarchal church respecting “ the woman's seed,” and the future incarnation of the Redeemer, whom the faithful were to behold on their rising from the dead. - - It is probable, that Abraham knowing this, would connect the promises made to him respecting “his seed,” with the ancient oracles respecting the “ seed of the woman;" and
† Chap. xvij. 5, &c.
1 Chap, xxii. 16.
Chap. xiii. 14, &c.
the deliverance to be wrought by him, when he should come“ with his holy myriads."
But we are not left to conjecture, we have a divine comment on this text, which informs us that what is argued to be probable, was in reality the case; and that these promises relate not to temporal blessings, but to a world to come; even the inheritance of the land of Canaan, which they pledge was not that which the ten tribes received by the hands of Moses and Joshua; bat relates to blessings that are still the expectation of the believing family of Abraham in a future economy of the kingdom of Christ.
1. That Abraham did not understand the promises as relating to temporal blessings only, which he should receive in the persons of his natural descendants,- for that himself received them not in the present life requires no proof, is made evident by the apostle in his Epistle to the Hebrews.*, “ By faith, Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise. For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose maker and builder is God." _“ These all died in faith, not having received the promises; but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims upon earth. For they that say such things, declare plainly that they seek a country. And, truly, had they been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might
* Chap. xi. 8.
have had opportunities to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he hath prepared for them a city.”—“ A heavenly country”.
a city,” which they were to inhabit after death, was, then, the inheritance expected by Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, while they sojourned as strangers in “ the land of promise.” But, why the land of promise? Or why is the father of the faithful told to arise and walk through the land, in the length of it, and in the breadth of it? Was it merely a type, or emblem of the better and heavenly country, as any other country might have been, in which he had been sent to journey as a stranger ? - Or is something more intended, when the Lord from heaven, and his holy myriads, shall descend on earth ? Let the question here started be deeply impressed upon our minds. As we proceed to consult the later oracles of God, we shall suspect that the Holy Land, as we emphatically call it, is not a mere type or emblem; but is destined hereafter to be the scene of great and heavenly things, when “the promise to Abraham and his seed, that He should be the heir of the world” shall be fulfilled. Nor is it possible, indeed, that the promise, “ to thee, and to thy seed after thee, will I give the land of Canaan for an everlasting possession,” was fulfilled in its temporary occupation by the twelve tribes.
There are also Scriptures that throw farther light upon the promises made to Abraham, and from thence we gather these two important facts:- First, that the seed of Abraham, in these promises, does not mean his natural descendants as such, but believers in God, whether actually his seed--as for many ages was the case exclusively; or whether called from the midst of other nations,