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the blessings promised in the covenant to his feed; especially the eternal inheritance of the heavenly country, which was promised to them under the image of the everlasting poflellion of Canaan, 4.

be occasions on which the numerous feed was pro nised to Abraham must have led him then, as they do us now, to think of a numerous feed, different from his natural progeny. Gen. xvii. 1. When Abram was ninety years old and nine, tbe Lord appeared to Abram and said to him; I am the elmighty God, well before me and be thou perfect. 2. And I will make 2213 covenant between me and thee, and I will multiply thee exceedingly.-Girl. xxii. 16. By myself have I livorn, fesith the Lorii, f'or, because thou hast done this thing, and hast not with-beld tły fin, ibine only for : 17. That in bleffing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy feed as the stars of the heaven, and as the fand which is upon the sea-shore. The numerous fied being promised to Abraham, as the reward of his walking before the Lord in a perfect manner, and of his having offcred up. Ifaac as a burnt offering, he could not think that a numerous natural progeny was the only seed promised to him. That kind of seed however numerous, he must have known is not the proper reward of a man's walking before the Lord in a perfect manner, far less is it the proper reward of such an eminent 'degree of faith and piety as he expressed in the offering up of Isaac. To be the founder of a great nation, or even of many nations, was a blefling which any wicked man might attain in the ordinary course of things, and which some of that character actually had attained. Wherefore, when God repeatedly promised to Abraham, with a solemnity and pomp of expreslion which could not fail to attract his attention, that he would multiply him exceedingly, and that his feed fhould be numerous as the stars of the heaven, this chief of believers, whose understanding was as extensive as his faith was strong, would not interpret God's promises of a numerous and natural feed only, but of a numerous fpiritual seed, also, who were to resemble him in his faith and obedience. ---The promise of the numerous feed thus understood, muft, to a person of Abraham's piety, have appeared an high reward indeed. It was an aflurance from God himself, that in the progress of the world, there were to be multitudes in every age and country, who should know and worship the true God; that God would acknowledge all such as Abraham's feed ; that in fulfilment of the promises made in the covenant to Abraham's feed, he would count their faith to them for righteousness; and that he would bestow on them the everlasting possession of the heavenly country, promised to Abraham, and to his feed by faith.

Having thus shewed that a numerous feed by faith was promised to Abraham, as well as a numerous natural progeny, and that Abraham himself knew both kinds of feed were promised to him, it remains to speak of the accomplishment of the promise, according to its two-fold meaning. And first, the promise that Abraham's natural seed should be as numerous as the dust of the earth, and as the sand which is on the sea-shore, though limited to the one nation of the Israelites, who descended from Abraham by Jacob, hath been remarkably fulfilled even in that one nation; agreeably to Gen. xii. 2. I will make of thee a great nation. For, notwithstanding the oppression of Jacob's posterity in Egypt, they had multiplied so exceedingly, that when they came out, and were numbered in the wilderness, the males among them, who were above twenty years old, and able to go to war, were no fewer than fix hundred and three thousand, five hundred and fifty: Now, as neither the Levites, nor the old men, the women, and the children under twenty years old, were numbered, there together must have been at least four times the number of the males fit to go to war; consequently the fouls who came out of Egypt, could not be fewer than three millions : So exceedingly did God multiply Abraham's natural feed during the short time of their fojourning in Egypt.

The Israelites, after they were settled in Canaan, continued to multiply greatly; for when David numbered them, there were found in Israel and Judah, thirteen hundred thousand valiant men who drew the sword, 2 Sam. xxiv. 9.-Afterwards, indeed, their numbers were diminished by the inroads of the Affyrians and Chaldeans, and by the captivity, first of the ten tribes, and then of the two tribes; so that when they returned from Babylon, they were but few. Yet that small remnant, in process of time, multiplied to such a degree in their own land, that when the Romans invaded them under Titus, their numbers were prodigious; as we learn from the accounts which Josephus


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hath given of those who perished by famine, by pestilence, by internal divisions, and by the sword of the Romans, during the course of their last war with that powerful people.

After the destruction of Jerusalem, and the total discomfiture of the Jews by the Romans, such of them as survived, being sold by their conquerors for flaves, were scattered through all the neighbouring heathen countries, and from thence were dispersed in process of time, over the face of the earth. In this laft dispersion, the natural feed of Abraham have continued now near eighteen hundred years : and during that long period, they have often been miserably wasted, partly through their own turbulent disposition, and partly through the avarice and cruelty, both of the heathens and of the Christians, among whom they dwelled. Yet, during all the calamities which have befallen them, they have ever remained, though not an united, yet a diftinct people, by their observance of the institutions of Moses, but especially by their circumcifion, declared by God himself to be the feal of his covenant with Abraham, Gen. xvii. 9. and by that external mark, and by their obfervance of the institutions of Moses, this people are every where known to be the posterity of Abraham. Moreover, they are at this day fo numerous, that were they gathered out of all the lands where they are dispersed; and joined together, they would be a race perhaps as numerous as any at present found on the earth. Who does not fee in all this, the accomplishment of God's promise to Abraham, to multiply his natural feed as the dust of the earth, and as the fand which is on the sea-shore! See Sect. 4. at the beginning.

In the second place, Abraham, by the promise, A father of many nations I have constituted thee, being made the father of all in every age and nation who believe and obey the true God, his spiritual feed must be very numerous. It is true, we cannot number them, as Mofes and David numbered the natural feed. This, however, we know, that in every nation, there always have been, even in the darkest and most corrupt ages, many pious and virtuous men, who have feared God, and wrought righteousness, according to the light, and the advantages which they enjoyed. See Sect. 4. Ist Art. p. 167. Also we know, That in the progress of the divine government, virtuous and good VOL. III.



men, Abraham's seed by faith, shall be so multiplied, that they will at length exceed the wicked in numbers, and that being considered by God as Abraham's feed, they shall receive all the blessings, which, in the covenant, were promised to Abraham's feed, See vol. ii. p. 368.

It remains to speak of the purpose for which God constituted Abraham the father of all believers, and of the advantages which they derive from that appointment.-According to the apostle Paul, Abraham was constituted the father of all believers, from the beginning to the end of the world, for the purpose of receiving on their behalf, and in their name, the promises of those blessings which God, of his great goodness, intends to bestow on them, Rom. iv. 11. He received the mark of circumcifion, as a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had in uncircumcision, or, as an evidence that the faith which he exercised in uncircumcision, was counted to him for righteousness, in order to bis being the father of all who believe in uncircumcision, that righteousness might be counted even to them: 12. And the father of the circumcision, that righteousness might be counted to those who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith of our father Abraham which he had in uncircumcision.In thus constituting Abraham the father of all believers, whether Jews or Gentiles, for the purpose of receiving on their behalf the promises in the covenant, God accommodated himself to the ideas of mankind, who consider what is promised in a covenant, as more binding than a simple declaration of one's intention. Accordingly, by making these promises to believers of all nations, in a covenant with Abraham as their father, God both published his gracious intentions, and gave to the heirs of promise, a stronger assurance of his resolution to fulfil these promises to them, than if he had only declared his purpose to do so. With the fame design, after Abraham had laid Ifaac on the altar, God confirmed all his promises to him, and to his seed with an oath ; that, as St. Paul tells us, the heirs of promise might have strong consolation under the afflictions of life, through the complete affurance which the oath of God hath given them of an after life of happiness in heaven: Heb. vi. 13. When God made promise to Abraham, seeing he could swear by no one greater, he (ware by




himself, 14. Saying, surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee.--16. For men verily swear by the greater ; and

oath for confirmation, is to them an end of all contradiétion.17. For which cause, God willing more abundantly to Mew to the heirs of promise, (believers of all nations,) the immutability of his purpose, confirmed the promise with an oath ;–18. That by two immutable things, in which it was imposible for God to lie, we might have strong confolation, who have fled away to lay hold on the hope set before us in the promises in the covenant with Abram.--Farther, Abraham was constituted the father of all believers, that his juftification might be the pattern of the justification of the rest of mankind. · But of this more, in Eff. vi. Sect. 2. Remark 3.

God having, by a covenant conferred on Abraham, the great honour of being the representative of believers, may we not conjecture, that he was commanded to sacrifice his son Ifaac, for this among other reasons, that having an opportunity of shewing, by his ready obedience, what an high degree of faith and piety he possessed, the world might be convinced, that of all mankind, he best deserved to be made the representative of believers of all nations, that in their name, he might receive the promises of those bleflings, which the infinite goodness of God disposeth him to bestow on all who are capable of enjoying them.

I have only to add, that by constituting Abraham the father of all pious and virtuous men, an honour was done to this chief of believers, greater than if, in the place of Adam, he had been made the father of the whole human race.

Sect. III. Of the third Promise in the Covenant with Abraham.

The third promise, is that which God made to Abraham, immediately on his arrival in Canaan, Gen. xii. 7. The Lord appeared to Abraham, and said, Unto thy feed will I give this land.Gen. xv. I. Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.-7. And he said to him, I am the Lord who brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give thee this land to inherit it.18. Unto thy feed have I given this land, &c.-Gen. xvii. 8. I will give to thee, and to thy feed after thee, the land wherein thou

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