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[For Isaac was found a substitute; for Jesus none. Neither the cattle on a thousand hills, nor all the angels in heaven, could have stood in his place. None but Jesus could have made a full atonement for our sins. He therefore saved not himself, because He was determined to save us.] INFER 1. How marvellous is the love of God to man!
[We admire the obedience of Abraham: but God had a right to demand it; and Abraham knew, that he was about to give his son to his best and dearest friend. But what claim had we on God? Yet did he give up his Son for us, for us sinners, rebels, enemies; nor merely to a common death, but to the agonies of crucifixion, and to endure the wrath due to our iniquities. What stupendous love! Shall any soul be affected with a pathetic story, and remain insensible of the love of God? Let every heart praise him, trust him, serve him: and rest assured, that He, who delivered up his Son for us, will never deny us any other thing that we can ask, 2. What an admirable grace is faith
[The faith of Abraham certainly had respect to Christ, the promised seed. And, behold how it operated! So will it operate in all who have it. It will keep us from staggering at any promise, however dark or improbable; and will lead us to obey every precept, however difficult or self-denying, Let us seek his faith: and while we are justified by it from the guilt of sin, let us manifest its excellence by a life of holiness.]
Isai. liii. 6.
9 Rom. viii. 32.
r Heb. xi. 17-19.
CVII. SARAH AND HAGAR WITH THEIR CHILDREN
TYPES OF THE TWO COVENANTS.
Gal. iv. 22-24. It is written, that Abraham had two sons; the
one by a bond-maid, the other by a free-woman: but he who was of the bond-woman was born after the flesh; but he of the free-woman was by promise: which things are an allegory.
THERE are many things in the Old Testament which we should have passed over as unworthy of any particular notice, if their use and importance had not been pointed out to us in the New Testament. Such is the occurrence which is here referred to; and which the apostle found to be of singular use to illustrate the nature of the Gospel covenant. He was endeavouring to counteract the influ. ence of those Judaizing teachers, who had perverted the faith of the Galatians: with this view he expostulates with those who had turned aside to a compliance with the ceremonial law; and shews them, by an allegorial ex. planation of the history before us, that the law itself might have taught them a very different conduct.
To understand the allegory in all its parts, we must attend carefully to the main scope of it, which is, to shew, that, as both Sarah and Hagar brought forth children to Abraham, yet those children differed widely from each other, so the old and new covenants bring forth, as it were, children to God, but there will be found, between their respective offspring, such a difference, as may well deter men from returning to the covenant of works, and make them resolutely adhere to the covenant of grace.
We may observe then a corresponding difference between the two women and their offspring, and the two covenants and their offspring. I. In their nature
[Ishmael, the son of the bond-woman, was born accord. ing to the common course of nature: but Isaac, the son of the free-woman, was born in a preternatural way, through the more immediate agency of God himself.
Thus they, who are under the law, have nothing but what they derive in a natural way from their parents. They may possess strong intellects, and discover many amiable qualities;but whatsoever they have, it is all carnal; no part of it is spiritual; their reason is carnal reason; their affections are carnal affections. But they, who are under the covenant of grace, are " born of God;" their faculties are all renewed; their views and desires are spiritual; they have “put off the old man, and put on the new;" yea, they are partakers, as far as flesh and blood can be, of a divine nature.a Hence they are called “ new creatures;” and are as much distinguished from the mere natural man, as light is from darkness, or Christ from Belial.b
This is the first point of distinction which the apostle himself notices; and it is confirmed by the declaration of our Lord,
a 2 Pet. i. 4.
5 2 Cor. vi. 14, 15.
that whatsoever is born of the flesh is carnal; whereas, that which is born of the Spirit (as all, who embrace the new covenant, are) is spiritual.c II. In their disposition
[Ishmael, being born of the bond-woman, was himself a slave; and therefore must, of necessity, have a servile spirit: but Isaac, the child of promise, felt all that freedom of spirit; which an affectionate and beloved child is privileged to enjoy.
Thus the children of the old covenant are “brought forth to bondage.” They may obey in many respects the will of their Father, but they are invariably actuated, either by selfrighteous hopes, or slavish fears. Whatever they do for God, it is “grudgingly and of necessity:” his work is irksome to them; or, if at any time it be pleasant, their satisfaction arises from pride and self-complacency, and not from any delight they may feel in his service. But the children of the new covenant are enabled to walk before God with holy confidence and joy. They serve him not from fear, but from love; not that he may save them, but because he has saved them. Whatever they want, they make known their requests to him, assured that he will gladly do for them more than they can ask or think. Thus they maintain sweet fellowship with him, regarding him in all things, not as a Master or a Judge, but as a Father and a Friend.
This distinction too is marked by the apostle, who says also in another place, that believers have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear, but the Spirit of adoption, whereby they cry, Abba, Father.d III. In their conduct
[Whatever outward conformity Ishmael might shew to his father's will, it is certain he was averse to it in his heart; for he persecuted Isaac on account of his superior piety, and for claiming an exclusive right to his father's inheritance: but Isaac patiently endured the trial, “knowing in whom he had believed,” and that “ He was faithful who had promised.”
Thus it is with all the children of the old covenant: they may obey the law in many points; but they do not really love it in any respect: on the contrary, they hate those, whose superior piety is a reproach to them: and who profess, that the children of promise shall exclusively inherit their father's kingdom. Our Lord teaches all his followers to expect this treatment, and to expect it on this very account from those, who are merely born after the flesh: “ if,” says he,“ ye were of the world, the world would love its own; but because ye are
.. Ver. 23. with John iii. 6.
d Ver. 24, 25, with Rom. viii. 15.
not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, there-
[Ishmael, by his conduct, brought upon himself that very exclusion, which he had confidently supposed would never take place: and Isaac in due time inherited the portion, which, in dependance on God's word, he had professed to expect. Nor was the difference made merely through the partiality of the parents, but by the express order of God himself.
Thus shall they, who are under the law, be, ere long, banished from their father's house. In vain shall they plead their carnal relation to God, and his people: they belong to a covenant that entails on them a curse, and not a blessing: and though they will not be persuaded of their danger now, yet will they find at last, that their confidence was presumption, and their hope, vanity.h On the contrary, they who are under the covenant of grace will inherit the promised land; their professions shall be vindicated, their expectations realized, their hopes accomplished: and to eternity shall they dwell with God, as monuments of his sovereign grace, and his unchanging faithfulness.]
We shall still continue to follow the apostle in the IMPROVEMENT of this subject. It is useful 1. For examination
[There cannot be a more interesting enquiry than this, Am I a “child of the bond-woman, or of the free?"; Nor will it be difficult to attain a satisfactory knowledge of our state, if we will but follow the clue, which this instructive allegory affords us. Let us ask ourselves then, What have I that nature cannot give, and that evidently marks me as born of God? Am I walking with God in the daily exercise of filial affection, accounting his service to be perfect freedom; or ain I rendering him only a formal, partial, and constrained obedience? Do I look for heaven as the free gift of God through Jesus Christ; and expect it solely on the humiliating terms of the new covenant; or am I ready to take offence at the electing love of God, and to deride as deluded enthusiasts. those, who found all their hopes upon it? According to the answer which conscience gives to these queries, we may determine to which covenant we belong, and consequently,
e Ver. 29. with John xv. 19. f Gen. xxi. 10, 12. & Gal. iii. 10. ..
Ver. 30. with John viii. 35. and Matt. viii. 11, 12. i Ver. 31.
what our end must be when we go hence. Let our enquiries then be prosecuted with care and diligence, that, when our state is ascertained, we may tremble or rejoice, as the occasion may demand.]. ';. .
2. For direction - [When we are brought under the covenant of grace, we are ever in danger of returning to the covenant of works. We are prone to indulge self-righteous hopes, and servile fears. We are ready to confound the covenants by associating works with our faith as joint-grounds of our hope. But we must carefully avoid this, and watch against every approach towards it. We must.“ stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free; and never more be entangled with the yoke of bondage.k « Salvation is by grace through faith:" and it is by faith, that it may be by grace." The very instant We mix any work of ours with Christ's obedience unto death, we fall from grace, and Christ becomes of no effect to us. Faith and works, as grounds of our justification before God, are opposites, and can no more be blended than light and darkness. Let us then hold fast the covenant of grace; and, in spite of all the persecution which our profession may bring uponụs, let us “ maintain our confidence, and the rejoicing of our hope, firm unto the end.”]
Gen. xlix. 22–24. Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful
bough by u well, whose branches run over the wall. The archers have sorely grieved him, and shot at him, and hated him: .but his bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob: from thence is the shepherd, the stone of Israel.
PECULIAR care is to be used in unfolding the types, left, by indulging our own imagination, we bring the very truth of God itself into contempt. Where the scriptures themselves have marked the typical reference, we may proceed without fear; but when once they cease to guide us, we should not venture one step but with fear and trembling. This observation is peculiarly applicable to the subject before us. It does not appear that