« 上一頁繼續 »
tuous person in Jericho) of his mere sovereign pleasure, sent his messengers into her house; this alone, strictly speaking, was the ground of her salvation; every thing that followed, were the requisites existing merely in the nature of her escape from ruin.....First, it was requisite in the nature of things that she should receive the messengers... Secondly, It was necessary that she should secrete them, and send them out another way, and that when they were gone, she should not utter this their business. When she had given up her native hopes and prospects, and with them her obligations of allegiance to her own country and people, and had decided in favor of another people, and had bound them by the oath of God for her safety; it was both a requisite inseparable from her salvation, and a moral obligation upon her not to betray them.... Thirdly, As her house was made her sanctuary, it followed of course, that, for safety, she and her kindredhousehold must come into it, and keep in it....... And lastly, As it was necessary in the nature of the case, that her house be so marked that it could not be missed or mistaken ; the friendly and well distinguished line of scarlet thread must be bound in the window...... With these requisites, which existed plainly in the nature of the salvation that came, as it were, begging to her door, every thing else respecting her character was put out of the question; and her life, and the lives of her father, and her mother, and her brethren, and her sisters, and all that they had, were bound up together in a bond of life for life, with the lives of the messengers.
I have ofien heard it said, that this doctrine militates against good works, viz. That our title to the privileges and blessings of the covenant of promise exists, solely, in the sovereign vocation of God, and that we have nothing to do, but to
keep the joyful feast, not with old leaven,, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth; which requisites, in all cases, are inseparable from the privileges and bounties bestowed upon guests. Still I have preached this doctrine under a deep conviction, that it is as friendly to holiness as it is to the hopes of the helpless.....the guilty and perishing men to whom I have proclaimed it. And, as many have done before me, I appeal to the observation of the thousands in various parts of the land, among whom I have held it up, and with all persuasion have urged it, and not surely without effect, whether its infiuence has appeared to weaken a sense of obligation, or to slacken attention either to moral, social, or religious duties.
THOUGH circumcision was a sign and seal of the same covenant in which the people of Gọd now stand; and though the church under that seal, the same as under the present, were placed on sanctuary ground in union with Christ, and the members of that body, the same as we are, were intitled to all the privileges and blessings resulting from an union with Christ; yet, as has been noticed; their standing, in a most important respect, differed from ours. This difference, however, great as it is, was no more than what was necessarily comprised in the peculiar privilege and blessing of the covenant, viz. an immediate union with Christ, whose standing, in relation to the covenant being then so different from what it now is.
This covenant, as has been shewn, being an establishment, of the nature of a partnership, forming one society, or firm of Abraham and his seed, engaged in one common interest, both for the performance of the requisite services, and the reception of the accruing rewards; and as Christ, the great Sponser of the seed, at the time the covenant was established, stood under the redemption bond as a sacrifice bound to the horns of the altar, it is plain, that a standing in union with him, such as this on sanctuary ground, must necessa: ily connect the whole covenant body with the bonds of his service work.
It has been asserted, and upon very apparent and ample evidence, that circumcision was a law transaction. And it has appeared very mysterious to me, that any defender of the perpetuity and glory of the covenant with Abraham, should appear desirous of evading this evidence; for, upon this ground alone, arises that distinction of honor, and peculiarity of glory, which will place Abraham and his natural seed first; it will be only for this reason that Abraham, and Isaac, and Israel will first sit down in the kingdom of Cod; and that all besides who come in, will sit down with them, as being an adoption to them in the family of God.
Why should it be supposed a disparagement to the ancient church, that it was so early under the bond of the law, when the Lord himself, their Head and Husband, was then under it, to which institution the Gospel Church have so fully consented, as being holy, just and good, and before which, one day, the whole universe will bow ?... Or, Why should it be supposed a matter difficult to explain, tl:at the chuich was once, as a minor child, in a subject state, under bonds for an ink
mense service, a debtor to do the whole law; when, on account of the subject state of Christ the Lord, it was not possible, in the nature of things, that it could then be so nearly united to him, and not have come into this his yoke? Why should it be thought to eclipse the glory of this church, that they went into the sanctuary of the Lord so early in the morning, when the altar was first kindling, and there, under its burning heat, subsisting no less marvelously than the bush in Horeb, labored out a long and painful day? It is distressing to reflect, in how many ways dishonor has been cast upon this first, and for ever to be distinguished, people of his holiness.
The Apostle, in stating the distinguishing glories of the people of Israel, mentions the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises, Rom. ix. 4......
The giving of the law, and the service of God, are things properly distinguished from the promises. But so far were they, in the view of the Apostle, from eclipsing the glory of this people, that they are mentioned as being distinct gems in their diadem.......By the privilege of the giving of the lan', we are to understand not only that it shall be given out by this people, but also that it was given to them in circumstances in which it was necessarily a subjecting yoke. Because the service work of the law was accomplished in Jerusalem, the gospel word went out from thence, and for the same reason, in the day of Christ's future kingdom, the lan shall go forth out of Zion, Micah iv. 2.......So likewise, as it was necessary, according to the will of God, that his own Son should be made under the law, and learn obedience to it, in order to exercise its power over all flesh, they who were destined to the glory of being high assessors with him in his kingdom, must also be associated with him in the preparatory
work....... It appears, therefore, that the giving of the law, and the service contained in it, were things which followed of course from the promises....... And we must look to see Abraham, as being associated with Christ in both states, on the one hand receiving promises and gifts in relation to the Gospel, and on the other coming under obligations, and called to services in relation to the law. And as the service work of the law was first In order, and was to precede the Gospel in dispensation, it was in the natural course that the token of the covenant which Abraham received should be, as circumcision was, more particularly significant of the requirement of the law, and calculated more immediately to bring that ministration into view.
But it must be remembered, that Abraham did not engage under the weight of such an obligation alone; the work, for him alone, was infinitely above his strength; in this ease, the first exaction of the bond must have crushed him into the earth, and neither he, nor any other mere man, could have ever risen from under the tremendous stroke. This work could be done only by Him who had power to lay down his life, and power to take it again.... The bond of the law, at first, was received federally; the obligation was taken in the name of Abraham and his seed; accordingly, the service work was brought forward mediatorially..... This was signified, when instead of the first-born of Israel, the tribe of Levi were taken for the service of the sanctuary; and, at Mount Sinai, the law was ordained in the hands of a Mediator; which mercy of the covenant was clearly shewn to Abraham in the Mount Moriah, when the ram caught in a thicket by his horns, was substituted upon the altar, and offered up for a burnt-offering in the stead of his son....... That the work for which circumcision made Abrahain a