« 上一页继续 »
this complaint has respect to present contrary appearances only, and is corrected at the close of the Psalm. “Blessed be the Lord, forever more, Amen & Amen.”
This covenant, though equally absolute with that addressed to Noah, differs from it in this respect, that it involves personal allegiance on the part of David, and his seed. This was not a contingence upon which the covenant was suspended ; but essential to the execution, and secured by the terms of it. This distinction, between some absolute promises, and others, the reader is desired to keep in remembrance ; for it will be of use in ascertaining the divine economy in re. gard to the Church.
2. The word covenant is sometimes used in the scrip, ture to signify law. In Deuteronomy iv. 13. the ten commandments are expressly called God's covenant, “And he declared to you his covenant to perform, even ten commandments, and he wrote them upon two tables of stone." The ark, because it contained these two tables of the law, was called, "the ark of the covenant.?? The word law, it is true, is sometimes used in a large sense, as intending the whole of the Pentateuch ; and then it comprehends the sacrifices, the purifications and festivals, with their special design, the history of facts, and the promises, wrought into the dispensation by Moses. In this sense the word law appears to have been generally used by the Jewish Rabbis. And in this sense it is used by our Lord, when he says, Luke xxiv. 44th, " These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you ; that all things must be fulfilled, which are written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the Psalms concerning me." But we see from the quotation just made, that the word covenant is used to signify the law, in the strictest sense ; as a mere rule of obedience. *
3. The term covenant is applied, Exodus xxxi. 26 to the Sabbath. “Wherefore the children of Israel shall
* This use of the term covenant is by no means peculiar to the scripture. The Pythagorian and Orphic schools among the Greeks, gave this name to their pre.
"Et pro legibus apud Orphicos and Pythagoristas ; nam hi, præscripgregi 'vivendi normas, diq@nxao, vocabant.
Poli Prolegomena in Mattheum.
keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throụghout their generations, for a perpetual covenant.”
It is not perhaps necessary to stay here to enquire in what sense the sabbath is a covenant. It
It may be just observed, that it seems to be a covenant in the same sense that circumcision is called a covenant ; i. e, as a standing token in Israel, that Jehovah was their God. This is the view given of it by God himself, Ezekiel, xx, 12, “Moreover also I gave them my sabbaths, to be a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the Lord that sanctify them.”
4. In Exodus, xxxiv. 10, the word covenant is used to express the triumphs of divine power over the enemies of Israel, in which God signally appeared in their behalf as their God. " And he said, Behold I make a covenant ; before all thy people will I do marvels, such as have not been done in all the earth, nor in any nation ;' and all the people amongst whom thou art, shall see the work of the Lord; for it is a terrible thing that I will do with thee. Observe thou that which I command thee this day. Behold I drive out before thee, the Amorite, and the Canaanite, and the Hittite, and the Perizzite, and the Hivite, and the Jebuzite.” These triumphs of God over the enemies of Israel, were another token, or testimony, that they were his people, and that he was their God.
5. Our Lord Jesus Christ is called a covenant. Isaiah, xlii. 6, “ I the Lord have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thy hand, and will keep thee, and will give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the
Thor ident from the application which the Evangelists make to him of the verses with which it is connected. He is a covenant, as he is the leading subject of promise, and the sum of the blessing bestowed upon sinners.
6. The word covenant is used in Job, xxxi. I, for a pious resolution.
“ I made a covenant with my eyes; why then should I think upon a maid ?»
7. The word is used to signify the established order in which the planetary system revolves. Jeremiah xxxiii.
20, “ Thus saith the Lord, if you can break my covenant of the day, and my covenant of the night ; and that there shall not be day and night in their season ; then may also my covenant be broken with David my servant, &c.” That the word covenant here does not look back directly to the promise made to Noah; but rather respects the continuity of the revolutions of the heavenly bodies; which, however, is partly in fulfil. ment of that promise, is, I think, evident from a corresponding passage in the 31st chapter, 35th verse. “ Thus saith the Lord, which giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon, and of the stars for a light by night, which divideth the sea when the waves thereof roar, the Lord of Hosts is his name. If those" ordinances depart from before me, saith the Lord, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me forever.”'
8. The word covenant sometimes signifies in the scripture,as it does more generally, when applied to the transactions of men with each other, an agreement which is mutual. The word under this meaning is applied to the compact which was entered into between İsrael and the Gibeonites. This compact consisted of mutual engagements. In our English version it is indeed called a league. But in the Seventy the same word is used, which is generally rendered covenant. The word covenant, as importing mutual agreement, is applied to the contract of marriage, Malachi ii. 14, “ Yet is she thy companion, and the wife of thy cove. nant.” In marriage there are always mutual engage . ments,
9. The word covenant is used to signify a conditional promise on the part of God, to secure the felicity of men, upon their appropriating him, and maintaining their allegiance to him, as their God. In this sense it is evidently used in Deuteronomy, v. 2, 3, “ The Lord our God made a covenant with us in Horeb. The Lord made not this covenant with our fathers, but with us, even us, who are all of us here alive this day.” This covenant is here expressly distinguished from previous covenant transactions with the Patriarchs. It is found in the 19th chapter of Exodus, 5 and 6 verses; ånd, as there laid down, is undeniably a conditional promise. “Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me, above all people, for all the earth is mine, and ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Jsrael."
Law was involved in this covenant, as will be seen hereafter. Still, it is evident the word covenant has respect here, at least in part, to promise. And this promise is conditional.
10. The word covenant is used to signify the sancțification of the heart by the special influences of the Holy Spirit, involving a cordial acceptance of the overtures of grace on the part of him who is a subject of this sanctification.
passage in the 31st chapter of Jeremiah presents this idea of covenant. the days come saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and the house of Judah, not according to the covenant I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt. But this shall be the Covenant which I shall make with the house of Israel after those days saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” This covenant is mentioned again in the 40th verse of the next chapter. “ And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them to do them good ; but I will put my fear in their hearts and they shall not depart from me." It is to be observ. ed, that the promise of God is one thing, and the event, which he engages to bring to pass, is another. It is the latter which is here called a new covenant. It consists in the actual renovation of the hearts of the people of Israel and Judah ; and in God's becoming spiritually and unalterably united to them as their God. This covenant was made with the house of Judah on
their return from the Babylonian captivity ; and again under the ministry, and after the ascension of Jesus Christ ; but will be made, in a far more extensive and glorious manner, and, in complete fulfilment of the promise, at some future period.
Here then we have ten distinct senses in which the word covenant is used in the Bible, without adverting to the nature of the covenant of circumcision. If the word has so many distinct meanings in the scripture, it must be hazardous to assume any particular definition of covenant, as applying in all cases, or even generally. Nor is it safe to say, that it is here to be taken literally, and there figuratively. It is not certain that it is once used in a figurative sense either in the Old Testament or the New. Like many words in all langnages, it has a large and inappropriate signification. The idea which it is designed to convey, in any particular place, is to be ascertained from the subject to which it is applied, and the transactions which it expresses. Some of these distinctions respecting the meaning of this word will come into vier and appear to have their use, as we progress in our enquires.