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ST. PAUL'S EPISTLE
G A L A T 1 A. N S.
ESSAY V. On the Covenant which God made with Abraham the
Father of the Israelites.
UR Lord, John v. 39. thus exhorted his Jewish hearers 3
Search the scriptures, (the writings of Moses and the prophets) for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. Also, at his first appearance to his disciples after his resurrection, he said to them, Luke xxiv. 44. These are the words which I spake to you while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the law of Mofes, and in the prophets, and in the psalms concerning me.
And that they might know what things were written in these books concerning him: 45. He opened their understandings that they might understand the scriptures; he gave them the knowledge of the mean-ing of those paffages of the scriptures which relate to himself, that they might be able to confirm the gospel which they were to preach, by testimonies taken from the law and the prophets. Accordingly the apostle Paul, who, like the other apostles, had the true meaning of the Jewilh scriptures communicated to him VOL. III. B
.bg by inspiration, hath on these writings founded those enlarged views of the doctrines of the gospel, and of the divine dispensations, which he hath delivered in his epistles, in so much that his explications of the Jewish scriptures, and the conclusions which he hath drawn from them, make a principal part of the gospel revelation.
The paffages of the writings'of Moses, which Paul hath explained in his epistles, and which deserve our especial attention, are those in which God's transactions with Abraham the father of the Israelites are recorded : namely Gen. xii. 1.-3. xii. 14, 15, 16. xiii. 14.-16. xv. 1.-7.18. xvii. 1.--8. xviii. 19. xxii. 10.-18.
In the first of these paffages we are informed, that God commanded Abram to leave his country and kindred, and go into a land which he would shew him. And to encourage him to break his connections with his idolatrous kindred and acquaintance, God said to him, Gen. xii. 2. I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee and make thy name great, and thou malt be a blessing. 3. 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. : Having received this command, Abram obeyed and went out, not knowing whither he went, Heb. xi. 8. He went out, notwithstanding he did not know whether the land into which he was going, was a good or a bad land; or whether it was far off
On leaving Haran, Abram it seems was directed to go to Ca
For on his coming to the plain of Moreh in Canaan, Gen. xii. 7." The Lord appeared to Abram and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land. Some time after this, when Abram feparated from Lot, Gen. xiii. 14. The Lord said to Abram, Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art, northward, and fouthward ; and eastward, and restward, 15. For the land which tbou feest, to thee will I give it, and to tly seed for ever.16. And I will make thy feed as the dust of the earth : so that if man can number the dust of the earth, then fall thy feed also be numa bered.
All this while Abram had no child; for which reason, eight years after he left Haran, when God said to him, Gen, xv. 1. Fear not Abram I am. thy-field and exceeding great reward, he re
plied, What wilt thou give me feeing I go childless ? Being now above eighty years old, the performance of the promise to make of him a great nation, appearing every day, more and more improbable, he became uneasy at the delay. Whcrefore, ver. 52 God brought him forth abroad, early in the morning, and said, Look now toward heaven and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them : and he said unto him, fa fall thy feed be. 6. And he believed in the Lord, and be counted it to him for righteousness. 7... And he faid to him, I am the Lord who brought thee out of Ur of the Challers, to give thee this land to inherit its and ver. 8. In that same day, to affure him of the performance of this promise, the Lord made a covenant with Abram saying, Unto thy fied have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates.
In an after transaction, recorded Gen xvii the Lord explained to Abram the particulars comprehended in the covenant which he made with him, after counting his faith to him for righteousness. Ver. 1. When Abram was ninety years old and vine, the Lord appeared to Abram, and said to him, I am the Almighty God, walk before me and be thcu perfect. 2. And I wil make my couenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly. 3. And Abram fell on his fiuce: arid God talked with him Yaying, 4. As for me, behold my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of
5. Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham, for a father of many nations have 1 made thee. 6. And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and king's fiall come out of thee: -7. And I will establish my covenant between me and ther, and thy feed after tbee, in their generations, for an everlasting Covenant, to be a God unto thee and to thy feed after thee. 8. And I will give unto thee and to thy feed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan for an everlasting Pilion, and I will be their God. :?
Some time after this transaction;' to thew us that the things promised to Abraham in the covenant, depended on his continul ing to believe and obey God, and on his commanding his children after him to keep the way of the Lord, and to do justice and judgment, the Lord said concerning him, Gen. xviii. 19. 1.know him, that he will command his children after him, and his household, to keep the way of the Lord, and to do justice and judgment, that the may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.
At length, when Abraham was an hundred years old, and Sarah was ninety, she brought forth her long expected son, whom Abraham named Ifaac, (laughter) on account of the joy which his birth occafioned to his parents.-But lo! when this only son, to whom all the promises were expressly limited, was grown up, God
put Abraham's faith to a trial, still more severe than that which was occasioned by deferring his birth so long : He commanded him to offer this only fon as a burnt-offering, Gen. xxii. 2.
This molt difficult command, Abraham without hesitation set about obeying. He went with Ifaac to the appointed mountain, raised an altar, put wood on it, bound Isaac, laid him on the altar on the wood, and stretched forth his hand, and took the "knife to say his son: and would have llain him, had not the angel of the Lord called to him and said, ver. 12. Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing to him ; for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy fon, thine only fon, from me.-15. And the angel of the Lord called to Abraham out of heaven the second time, 16. And said, By myself have I sworn, faith the Lord, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy fon, thine only fon, 17. That in bleffing, I will bless thee, and in multiplying, I will multiply thy feed as the stars of heaven, and as the fand which is upon the sea-shore, 18. And in thy seed fall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because thou hast obeyed my voice. Here it is to be remarked, that God confirmed all his former promifes with an oath; and declared that he would perform these promises, because Abraham had done the difficult work of offering up his only fon as a burnt-offering. Also he gave him a new promise, That the person in whom all the nations of the earth are to be blessed, should be one of his descendants; and declared, as before, that he made him this promise, because he had obeyed his voice.
From the foregoing account of God's transactions with Abraham, it appears that God's covenant with him contained fix separate promises or ftipulations on the part of God, namely,
1. That God would exceedingly blefs Abraham. II. That Abraham should be the father of many nations, and
III. That God would give to Abraham, and to his feed after him, all the land of Canaan for an everlasting poffeflion.