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said, that the gospel was preached in this article of the Abrahamic covenant, - In thee shall all nations be blessed.” Again, in the 16th verse of the same chapter we read, " Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He saith not, and to seeds, as of many ; but as of one, and to thy Seed, which is Christ.” Here the Seed spoken of in the Abrahamic covenant is expressly said to be Christ. From the above texts it is clearly evident, that Christ and his gospel were contained in the Abrahamic covenant; and if so, most assuredly it was the covenant
3. Another remarkable promise of the Abrahamic covenant was, that God would be Abraham's God, and the God of his seed. This promise we have contained, Gen. xvii. 7,8; “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.” This promise of the Abrahamic covenant, that God would be Abraham's God, and the God of his seed, was a promise not merely of earthly good things ; but of spiritual and eternal blessings. For we find in the New Testament, that this promise is the sum of all the blessings promised in the covenant of grace. Agreeably to this the Apostle, Heb. viii. 10, speaking of the New Testament dispensation of the covenant of grace, said, quoting the words of Jeremiah, “This is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: - And I will be to them a God." That the covenant of grace is meant in this passage is unquestionable : but the sum of the blessings of this covenant, are here included in the promise, “ I will be to them a God.” And Rev. xxi. 3 ; the whole sum of spiritual and eternal blessings are thus expressed, "God himself shall be with them, and be their God.” And indeed a greater good than this cannot possibly be promised ; for if God be ours, every other blessing must be ours. But that this promise, in the Abrahamic covenar", referred to spiritual and eternal blessings, further appears from the application of it by the Apostle, Heb. xi, 16; where speaking of
the natural seed of Abraham that died in faith he said, “But now they desire a better country, that is an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called th ir God." This text certainly teaches us, that God was called the God of the natural seed of Abraham of whom the Apostle here spoke, in a higher sense, than as a political head, or a temporal benefactor. But with the unprejudiced mind the exposition which our Saviour gave of this promise, when he proved from it to the Sadducees, the resurrection of the dead and a future state of blessedness, must place this matter beyond doubt ; " But as touching the resurrection of the dead (said he) have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, ad the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead but of the living;" Mat. xxii. 31, 32.
It is objected to the interpretation which we have given and endeavoured to establish, of this promise, that if it imported that God would be the everlasting God of Abraham and his seed, it would imply that all the natural seed of Abraham were saved ? To this I answer; it is evident that the seed is to be taken in a restricted sense: for although Abraham had many children, yet the Lord said to him, " In Isaac shall thy seed be called;" Gen. xx. 12. Esau was afterwards cast off, and the promise restricted to Jacob and his children. And the Apostle hath told us, “ They are not all Israel, which are of Israel ;" Rom. ix. 6. In which he restricted the promise in its saving application to the believing seed of Jacob. The ob. jection therefore will not lie against what has been said.
The import of the promise, “I will be the God of your seed,” I suppose to be this, that God covenanted to be the everlasting God of all the believing seed of Abraham; and further that he would keep up his church, among the natural circumcised seed of Abraham, in the line of Isaac and Jacob, until Christ should come and be externally in a spiritual sense their God, in the same sense as he is visibly the God of every professor of religion under the New Testament; and further that he would keep up among the natural circumcised seed, a spiritual believing seed, to which he would be really, and in the highest sense a God, untilChrist the eminent Seed should come, to whom as the Seed of Abraham according to the flesh, the promises were more especially made and through him to all believers his spiritual seed. This exposition appears to be agreeable to the reasoning of the apostle in the 9th, 10th, and 11th chapters of the epistle to the Romans.
Review now what has been said to illustrate the nature of the promises of the Abrahamic covenant, and then say, was not this covenant of a spiritual nature? It has been shown from the New Testament, that the promise of a numerous seed, related, not only to the natural posterity of Abraham; but also to believers in Christ; that Christ was promised in this covenant, and that the blessings of it flowed through him ; that the gospel of salvation through Christ was preached in this covenant; and that God herein engaged to be the everlasting God of all who kept it. The passages which have been quoted from the New Testament, certainly teach us these things, as plainly and unequivocally as language can. And if the Abrahamic covenant does contain such promises, the conclusion must follow, that it was not a mere national or temporal covenant, but really and truly the covenant of grace.
But in addition to the arguments which have already been adduced, the New Testament furnishes further evidences of this truth. Zacharias the father of John the Baptist, filled with the Holy Ghost, spake of the appearance of the Saviour, and salvation through him, as the mercy promised to the fathers, and the substance of God's holy covenant, the oath which he sware to Abrahamo; Luk. i. 67–73. Christ and salvation through him were therefore included in the Abrahamic covenant.
Again, the Apostle testified that believers in Christ “are braham's seed, and heirs according to the promise;" Gal. iii. 29. What promise did the apostle here mean? Most assuredly not the possession of the land of Canaan, nor any other of the temporal blessings, promised to Abraham and his natural seed. The promise made to Abraham and his seed of which believers are heirs, must be spiritual ; and therefore such promises were contained in the Abrahamic covenant, and consequently it was the covenant of grace.
Again, we read Gal. iii. 17, that the covenant made with Abraham was confirmed of God in Christ. But assuredly such a covenant can be none other than the cov. enant of grace.
nd further, circumcision which was a seal of the Abrahamic covenant, was, according to the apostle, Rom. iv. 11, “a'seal of the rigbteousness of faith." " And he (that is Abraham) received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised.” By the righteousness of faith must be meant, the righteousness of Christ received by faith. Consequently the righteousness of faith, or the righteousness of Christ received by faith, was included in the Abrahamic covenant, of which circumcision was the seal, and therefore this covenant was the covenant of
grace. From all that has been said we now confidently draw the conclusion, that the covenant made with Abraham was the covenant of grace.
This covenant was the basis of the Old Testament church. Yea, on this covenant does the New Testament church now stand. Believers under the New Testament dispensation are, in Christ, the spiritual seed of Abraham and heirs according to the promises of this covenant. Abraham is the father of all them that believe, whether Jew or Gentile, and in this covenant was he constituted such. This is the covenant from which, as the apostle teaches, Rom. xi, 17, &c. the Jews have been broken off through unbelief, and into which the Gentiles have been graffed by faith. The church has always been one, and so has the covenant of grace. The same church, the same covenant of grace, and the same way of salvation existed before the incarnation of Christ as since. The differences in different ages has only been in the manner of dispensing the same grace of God.
Of the Abrahamic covenant, which we have proved to be the covenant of grace, circumcision was the sign and seal. Thus, Gen. xvii. 10, 11, 13, it is called the covenant, by which must be meant a sign and seal of the covenant : and it is also called a token of the covenant. The apostle has taught the same, Rom. iv. 11; "He (that is Abraham) received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had.” Hence it is evident, circumcision was a sign and seal of the Abrahamic covenant. To have a visible standing in this covenant, it was necessary to be circumcised. For we read Gen. xvji. 13, 14; “My covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant. And the uncircumcised man child, whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his p ople ; he hath broken my covenant.” Circumcision then was necessary to a visible standing in the Abrahamic covenant, and therefore in the covenant of grace, and the church of God; and those who received it, had a visible standing in the covenant of grace.
Now who were the subjects of this ordinance? this sign and seal of the covenant of grace? Read the divine command on this sulject, Gen. xvii. 10, 12, 14, “ This is my covenant which ye shall keep between me and you ; and thy seed after thee ; every man child among you shall be circumcised. And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations. And the uncircumcised man child-that soul shall be cut off from his people ; he hath broken my covenant. Infants of eight days old were to be circumcised, and a severe penalty was threatened in case they were not. The conclusion necessarily follows, that infants once had a right to the initiating sign of the covenant of grace, the seal of the righteousness of faith. They once had a visible standing in the covenant of grace and the church of God.
Our time requires that I should here pause for the sent. God willing on the morning of the next Lord's day, I will resume and finish this subject.
for the pre
MATTHEW XXVII. 19.
“Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost."
On the last Sabbath morning I endeavoured to prove that the corevant, which God inade with Abrabam, was