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6 And he i believed in the the LORD that brought thee out LORD; and he m counted it to him of • Ur of the Chaldees, P to give for righteousness.
thee this land to inherit it. 7 And he said unto him, I am
o ch. 11:23,31. p Ps, 1032, 1 Rom. 4. 3, 9, 22. Gal. 3. 6. James 2. 23.
nch. 12. 1. Rom. 4. 13.
m Ps. 106. 31.
to Abraham in the sleeping hours of Chal. 77 dana 792277 believed in night, we may easily conceive that it the Word of the Lord. Gr. ЕRIOTEVOE was early in the morning, before sunrise, that he was brought forth and bid which is followed by the Apostle, Rom.
T” Oew believed God, omitting the 'in,' to count, if he could, the number of the 4. 3. In numerous other instances in stars. And this, on the whole, seems the New Testament the Greek verb the simplest mode of exposition, though
FLOTEVW to believe is followed by the parMaimonides and other Jewish writers suppose that every thing related in this ticles cls, enl, or ev, in, as if there were chapter was transacted in vision, in a designed distinction, at least in some which state stars might be made to cases, between 'believing' and 'believappear to the mental perception at ing in;' and perhaps it may not be noonday, as well as to the natural eye believe' Christ, a true penitent only
improper to say, that while the devils at midnight. This is indeed true, and it is true also that the Scriptures often can 'believe in' him. The Hebrew represent that which is done in vision term 12x aman, from which comes the as if it were an historical fact, without familiar 'Amen' so be it, signifies to be clearly drawing the line between them, firm, fixed, stable, sure; and in the as in Jer. 13.4, 5. Ezek. 8. 7, 9. But Hiphil conjugation, which is here emin the present case, as all the circum- ployed, followed by a in or 3 to, to esstances are consistent with the literal tablish one's self, or one's faith, firmly verity of the incidents recorded, we pre-in or towards an object, to deem, or ace fer this mode of interpretation, espe- count, or make sure to one's self, and cially as an act of faith so highly com- so to lean upon, con fide in, or trust to, mended as that of Abraham on this any thing as stable and stedfast. occasion would seem to have required Hence as applied to the act of a believthe exercise of a waking and not of a ing agent in reference to divine promsleeping or entranced mind. Whether ises, it denotes a degree of assured conthe innumerable host of stars were de- fidence amounting, as it were, to a signed to shadow forth the countless creative efficacy, making to exist, submultitude of his natural or his spiritual stantiating, confirming the thing beseed is not apparent from the narrative, lieved, 'calling things which are noi as nor is it certain that a distinction of though they were.' Thus 'faith is the this kind was intended. It was prob- substance (the substantiating principle) ably designed as a general intimation of things hoped for;' and in this view including both, though with a domi- Christ is denominated the 'Amen, the nant reference to his seed in the line of faithful and true witness,' from his Isaac and Jacob. This is to be infer- being the ground of the most fired red from the passages which speak of and stabl: confidence, whose fidelity the fulfilment of promise, as Deut. 10. or trust-worthiness may be relied upon 22. 1 Chron. 27. 23. Neh. 9. 23.
with uubounded assurance. The cir6 And he believed in the Lord. Heb. cumstances which gave so much effitiny na 77287 believed in Jehovah. cacy and value to the faith of Abraham
-and he coung ויחשבה לו צדקה .Heb
on this occasion are so forcibly recited pute (27") iniquity unto me.' Ps. in the Epistle to the Romans, that we 32. 2, Blessed is the man un'o whom adduce the words of the Apostle as the the Lord imputeth (awn) not iniquimost apposite commentary which can ty.' Comp. Lev. 7. 18.-17. 4. Num. be given upon this passage. Rom. 4. 18. 27. The expression before us be18–22, 'Who against hope believed in comes important from the use which hope, that he might become the father is made of it by the Apostle Paul, Rom. of many nations; according to that 4, in establishing the doctrine of juswhich was spoken, So shall thy seed tification by faith ; but as a full considbe. And being not weak in faith, he eration of his reasoning on the subject considered not his own body now dead, would lead us into too wide a field of when he was about an hundred years discussion we shall content ourselves old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah's with glancing at some of the leading womb. He staggered not at the prom- aspects of the passage. The 'believise of God through unbelief; but was ing which is here said to be counted to strong in faith, giving glory to God; Abraham for righteousness is not to and being fully persuaded, that what be understood of the general and habithe had promised, he was able also to ual faith that governed his life and perform. And therefore it was impu- entitled him to the character of a truly ted to him for righteousness.' — And pious man. It was the particular act ke counted it to him for righteousness of believing here spoken of which was .
so imputed. Nor is it to be supposed ed it to him righteousness. Gr. elogioon that Abraham now first began to beavtiu Els duraloovvoy it was reckoned, lieve sa vingly in God, for the Apostle accounted, imputed to him for right- assures us, Heb. 11. 8. 9, that it was by eousness. Nearly all the ancient ver- faith that he obeyed when called, long sions agree with the Sept. in rendering before this, to forsake his native counthe verb in the passive, which shows try, and sojourn in a strange land; that they understood it as construct- and so far as he then had true faith, he ed with an indefinite nominative, doubtless had justifying faith, or such equivalent to the passive, like Gen. 2. a faith as availed to constitute him a 20, ‘But for Adam there was not found pious man and an heir of salvation. an help meet.' Heb. syn *3 one did In what sense, then, was his faith on not find. See Note on Gen. 16. 14. this occasion peculiarly counted to him This current of authorities, which is for righteousness? We answer, that it countenanced by the Apostle's citing it was counted to him, as in its own naalso in the passive, strongly inclines ture it truly was, as a righteous, that us to regard this as the genuine sense is, an acceptable, an excellent, a praiseof the original, although the main scope worthy act, This we conceive to be, of the clause remains the same which in this connection, the genuine import ever construction be adopted. The of hpv (Gr. dekaloovun) translated Scriptural usage of the term 3mn is righteousness, a term clearly used in a primarily to think, purpose, intend, parallel sense in D ut 24. 13, 'In any imagine, devise, as evil or mischief to, case thou shalt deliver him the pledge wards any one. Gen. 50. 20, Ps. 35. again when the sun goeth down, that 4, 20.–41. 8. Jer. 11. 19. 2 Sam. 14. 13. he may sleep in his own raiment and And secondly, to reckon, esteem, account; bless thee: and it shall be righteousto impite, to put to one's account, ness (np7y) unto thee before the Lord whether favourably or the reverse. Thus thy God;' i. e. a good, a meritorious 2 Sam. 19. 20, 'Let not my bord im- l deed, an act of piety. So in Glen, 18 19, 'And they shall keep the way of Scriptures. And accordingly Pbilo the the Lord, to do justice (1727%) and Jew, (de Abrahamo, p. 386, ed. Frankf.) judgment;' i. e. to do good or com- in speaking of Abraham says, 'His mendable deeds. Is. 64. 5, "Thou praise has been recorded, being testified meetest him that rejoiceth and worketh by the oracles which Moses delivered, righteousness (971);' i. e. that doeth by whom it is reported that he believed good. The interpretation of the term in God. And that this has been said in this sense is strikingly confirmed of him is a great thing, but it is a far by the parallel passage respecting the greater that it has been confirmed by good deed of Phinehas in siaying the acts. But if such be the genuine purpolluted Israelite and the Midianitish port of the language as used by Moses, woman, Num. 25. 6, seq. and thus re- the question very naturally occurs, ferred to by the Psalmist, Ps. 106. 30, whether the passage as quoted by Paul 31, . Then stood up Phinehas, and exe- has the same meaning, or in other cuted judgment: and so the plague was words whether Paul is to be considered stayed. And that was counted unto as giving an infallible exposition of the him for righteousness (73 22707 exact mind of the Spirit in the present np7x. Gr. kai Edoyroon avro els dixar clause as it stands in the Mosaic oriοσυνην).
).' In this case, as in that of ginal. To this it may be replied, that Abraham, it is clear that it was a sin- in as far as the Apostle is to be considgle act on a special occasion that was ered as introducing this passage with so reputed to the doer. The conduct a view to illustrate the case of a sinof each was so remarkable, so noble, ner's justification on his first believing in so commendable in the sight of God, Christ, the quotation cannot be deemed under the circumstances which gave in point, because this was not the first rise to it, as to gain the particular, the instance of Abraham's believing, nor marked approbation of Heaven, and to consequently of his being accounted cause it to be distinguished by a corres- righteous, nor is there any evidence that ponding emphasis of honourable testi- his faith, on this occasion, had a spemony. This we conceive is what is cial respect to Christ as its grand object. meant by its being counted in both It was a faith exercised upon a peculiar cases for righteousness.' The expres- promise, viz. the promise of an innusion does not merely indicate that it merable seed. But the circumstances was so esteemed in the divine mind, or under which it was exercised rendered it that God in his secret judgment ac- something so signal and illustrious, so counted of it as a pre-eminently wor- heroic and praiseworthy, that God was thy and acceptable deed, but that he so pleased to account it, and to have it ordered things that it should be remem- accounted, as a singularly righteous bered to their credit, that it should be act. But the Apostle's citation was in made matter of public and lasting rec- another respect strictly pertinent. The ord, in a word, that it should stand as grand scope of his reasoning in the an honourable testimonial affixed to context is to show that according to their characters with all succeeding gen- the economy of grace a believing sinner erations. This is undoubtedly the true may be placed in a state of acceptance furce of the expression as viewed in it- with God simply by believing without self and apart from any peculiar bear the works, that is, the obsercunces, of ings elsewhere given to it by the sacred the Jewish law. This is clear from the writers. It is the primary and unfor- case of Abraham. It is expressly reced sense which a native Jew would corded of him that righteousness was affix to the words in reading his own reckoned to him on the ground of his 8 And he said, Lord God, me an heifer of three years old, whereby shall I know that I and a she-goat of three years old, shall inherit it ?
and a ram of three years old, 9 And he said unto him, Take and a turtle-dove, and a young
pigeon. q ch. 24. 13, 14. Judg. 6. 17, 37. 1 Sam. 14. 9, 10. 2 Kings 20. 8. Luke 1. 18.
faith, before he was circumcised, or in day the Lord made a covenant with other words, before he came under the Abraham, in reference to which the obligations of the ceremonial law. In symbolical transaction here related like manner, the same favour may be ex- was ordered.
Of this the memory tended to the gentile believer of every would naturally be preserved and cherage and country who reposes trust in ished among his descendants, as an inthe gospel message. The example of fallible token of the fulfilment of the Abraham is adduced, we conceive, great promise. Should we be disposed merely by way of illustration, as af. lo blame this inquiry, as savouring of fording an analogous, not an identical, vain curiosity or sinful distrust, let us case of strong and acceptable faith. It bear in mind that the very same act is not designed to intimate that pre- may be good or evil, according to the cisely the same object of faith of which principle from which it proceeds. Had Paul is speaking, was before the mind the question arisen from unbelief, it of the patriarch on the occasion referred would have been decidedly sinful. It to, but the course of his argument is would have resembled the question substantially this ;– As Abraham, in which Zacharias asked, Luke, 1. 18, the face of great discouragements and when the angel told him from God he impediments, firmly believed God, and should have a child; "Whereby shall thereby is said to have had righteous- I know this ? for I am an old man, and ness accounted to him, much more my life well stricken in years,' for the believing sinner who in spite of all which unbelieving question he was imthe obstacles in the way gives credence mediately struck dumb. If, on the to the gospel promise, is counted and other hand, it expressed a wish to be treated as righteous and gratuitously informed more clearly respecting the justified.
divine purposes, or to receive those 8. Whereby shall I know, &c. ample testimonies which God himself Abraham's interrogation here is not to was willing to communicate, then it be construed as a mark of the tempo- was perfectly innocent, and consistent rary failure of his faith, nor as imply with the strongest faith. It was for ing that he himself needed an extraor- the purpose of instruction only that dinary confirmation of the divine prom- the blessed virgin inquired of the angel, ise; but for the sake of his posterity, Luke, I. 34, how she should have a who might be tempted, from the diffi- child, since she was a virgin. The culties to be encountered, to despair of question, in itself, did not materially realizing the truth of the prediction, he differ from that of Zacharias; but the desired some clear testimonial, which principle was different; and therefore should have the effect of ratifying to the one received a gracious answer, the their minds, like the seal of a covenant, other a severe rebuke. Many instanthe solemn engagement of the Most ces are recorded where God has been High. This request God was gra. graciously pleased to give signs to his ciously pleased to grant, as it is ex- people for the confirmation of their pressly said, v. 18, that in that same faith, when there was not any doubt
upon their minds respecting either his sacrifice; a fact which very naturally faithfulness or power. When he ap- leads us to the inference that the transpeared to Gideon, Judg. 6. 14—21, and action here recorded had some symtold him that he should deliver his bolical allusion to that system of worcountry from the yoke of Midian, Gideon ship. True it is, there is no express said, 'If now I have found grace in thy mention in the present narrative of the sight, then show me a sign that thou animals and fowls being actually sactalkest with me;' in answer to which, rificed, but from all the circumstances God caused fire to come out of the we can scarcely doubt that that was the rock, and consume the kid and cakes case. -9 An heifer of three years which Gideon had prepared for him; | old. Heb. noun literally a trebled and presently afterwards, Judg. 6. heifer. The Gr. however renders it 36—40, he gave him another sign, ma- dapalı TPLETIŠovoar a three-yearling king the dew to fall alternately on the heifer, while the Chal. has ann fleece and on the ground, while the 1393 a triple heifer or three heifers. other remained perfectly dry. In the The dominant idea of the original Heb. same way he gave to Hezekiah a choice is that of triplication, without specifyof signs, offering to make the shadows ing in what respect. But Bochart and on the sun-dial go backward or forward other commentators of high repute ten degrees, according as should de- understand it in reference to time, i. e. sire, 2 Kings, 20. 8—11. From hence as denoting a heifer of three years old, it appears that the inquiries which pro- especially as the equivalent phrase Is. ceed from faith, are good and accept. 15. 5. cannot well be otherwise exable to God; and that Abraham's was plained; ‘His fugitives shall flee unto of this nature is manifest; because his Zoar, an heifer of three years old faith on this occasion was specially (omn37 ngay).' It is true indeed commended by God himself.
that under the law these animals were 9. Take me an heifer. Heb. and generally offered when they were one - take for me ; i. e. take and offer year old, but these were no doubt re
Chal. Offer before me.' quired to be of the age of three ycars, The idiom is Hebraic, paralleled by because they were then full grown, in Gen. 48. 9, 'And Joseph said unto his their most perfect state, and therefore father, They are my sons, whom God most suitable to be made use of on the hath given me in this place. And he present extraordinary occasion. To said, Bring them (ond take them), 1 which we may add, that there might pray thce, unto me, and I will bless have been some mystical import, dethem.' Ex. 25. 2, "Speak unto the signed to be canveyed to Abraham by children of Israel, that they bring me this circumstance of the transaction, of (3 797247 that take for me) an offer which we are at present ignorant. ing.' So that which in Ps. 68. 18, is - A young pigeon. Heb. 1777 read, Thou hast received (nnp3 thou gozal. This term is indeed occasionhast taken) gifts for men; is expound- ally applied to the young of other birds ed by the Apostle Eph. 4. 8. "Thou than those of the dove kind, but its hast giren gifts unto men,' i e. taken leading import is that of ring,doves or and given. The creatures here inen- wood-pigeons. Accordingly the Gr. tioned viz. the young of beeves, sheep, has here tepiotepav a dove, and the and goats, with turtle doves, and young Chal. 77279 bar yonah, young dooc, pigeons were the only ones which were which accords moreover with the law afterwards appointed under the law for I given Lev. 1, 14.