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These promises are evidently not better as to their origin; for both sorts of promises are from God. They are not better as to the certainty of their being fulfil led. For the veracity of God is pledged as much in the promises of the Sinai covenant, as in those of the New covenant.
They are not better as to the ultimate good in which they terminate. For the promises of the Sinai covenant terminate in this. "Then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me; and ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, an holy nation; and I will walk among you, and be your God, and ye shall be my people." But the promises of the new covenant terminate in nothing; nor could they possibly terminate in any thing better. "I will be their God, and they shall be my people," is expressly the blessing in which both covenants terminate.
The promises of the Sinai covenant involved life. Leviticus xviii. 5. " Ye shall therefore keep my statutes and judgments; which, if a man do, he shall live in them; I am the Lord." Deuteronomy xxx. 19. "I call heaven and earth to record this day, that I have set before you this day, life and death, blessing and cursing-therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live." Ib. xxxii. 47. "For it is not a vain thing for you, because it is your life."
The promises of the new covenant involve the same thing. John xiv. 19. "Because I live, ye shall live also. It is pretended by some, that the life promised in the Sinai covenant, was only the protraction of an existence in this world, under circumstances of outward prosperity. This idea is advanced merely to carry out the scheme of the carnality of the covenant, and to make the promises of it quadrate with the doctrine, that the obedience which the law required was external and civil, without any respect to a principle of piety within.
Not one word of this kind is found in the covenant. And what reason can there possibly be to attach to the promises of it such an interpretation? Had the term life, a meaning in this covenant,so infinitely below what
it expresses in the New covenant, and generally through. out the scripture? Was this the blessing, with which God proposed to testify his peculiar love to his dutiful children, among the posterity of his friend Abraham ? Were a few years of outward prosperity, enjoyed in common with the idolaters, and profligate children of this world, the amount of the good to which his chosen people were called; and in which that high, and holy relation which subsisted between him and them, was to result ? Would not God have even been ashamed to be called their God, without preparing for, and proposing to them, a city of another description ?. Does not Asaph tell us, that, in regard to temporal prosperity, the wicked had, in fact, often much the advantage of the righteous? Psalm 1xxiii. "For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked; for there are no bands in their death, but their strength is firm. They are not in trouble as other men, nor plagued as other men. Their eyes stand out with fatness; they have more than heart could wish." All desirable, temporal good, was indeed promised; and it is a very different thing to enjoy temporal good under the blessing, from what it is to enjoy it under the curse of God. But was this ul timately the good? Was this only the reward to which Moses had respect, when he chose rather to suffer affiction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season? Was this the object on which his faith, and the faith of those other illustrious wor thies terminated, whose names are set down in the elev enth of Hebrews, as declaring to the world, that they were pilgrims and strangers on the earth? How sadly must the confidence, which these noble patterns of piety placed in God, have been disappointed, when, instead of living at the fountain head of temporal prosperity, "they were stoned, sawn asunder, slain with the sword, and wandered about in sheepskins, and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented!"
To suppose that the continuance of a prosperous life in this world is the blessing, is to suppose that a
is the curse.
short pilgrimage of calamity, closed by a painful death,, Then the holy suffered the curse of the covenant in common with the unholy; and the former rather than the latter. Surely such a carnal interpretation of the promise needs no farther refutation.
If the superior excellence of the promises of the new covenant is not to be found in either of these things, it must be looked for in something else. And there is but one other idea; which is, beyond all doubt, the true oné. It is this, the promises of this covenant are absolute, whereas, those of the Sinai covenant, are conditional. Let the reader turn his eye to the places. quoted, in which the promises of the Sinai covenant are inserted, and he will perceive, that in every place they have the conditional term, if. Nothing was ab solutely engaged. Obedience to the law, was the contingence upon which the fulfilment of the promises was suspended. This obedience was not secured by the promise. Therefore nothing was secured absolutely. Disobedience left the covenantees just where the uncovenanted world stands; i. e. "without God, without Christ, and without hope in the world." But it is far otherways with the New covenant. The prom. ises, of which this consists, are all absolute. "But this is the covenant which I will 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 heart, and will be their God, and they shall be my people; and they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, know the Lord, for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more."
Here, obedience, and all the spiritual, and everlasting blessings attendant upon it, are secured.
It is to be observed, that though the terms of the promise, as it is here laid down, respect the house of Israel, and the house of Judah, this is not exclusive language. The effect promised, and produced, is the experience of every one of the saved. The blessing
to be bestowed, is the righteousness of faith, a righteousness without works. This is forgiveness of sin. Romans iv. 6. "Even as David describeth the blessedness of the man unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, saying, blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin." This blessedness does not come upon the circumcision only, but upon the uncircumcision also.
The reader is probably now prepared to subscribe to the idea, that the new covenant, and the covenant which God established with Abraham, are the same. Perhaps no farther evidence of this need be adduced. But to remove all doubt, let us, with the analysis which has been given of the Abrahamic covenant in our recollection, briefly retrace the leading features of each, and see, if those which apply to the one, do not apply to the other also.
The promises of the Abrahamic covenant respected a natural and adoptive seed. So do the promises of the new covenant. Members of the house of Israel, and the house of Judah, are expressly the objects. They are objects in the proper, primitive sense, as such. And that the same covenant extends to the adopted Gentiles, is evident, from the declaration of Paul, Ephesians i. 2-6. "If ye have heard of the dispensation of the Grace of God, which is given me to youward; how that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery, which, in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles, and prophets, by the Spirit; that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, and of the same body; and partakers of his promise in Christ, by the Gospel."
The promises of the Abrahamic covenant were ab. solute, securing the holiness of those on whom they terminated, and so, as we have seen, are those of the
In the former, sovereignty, in determining the objects of mercy, was expressed; and so it is in the latter.
The latter holds forth and secures the righteousness of faith; a righteousness without works; the nonimputation of sin; "for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more ;" so does the former. This was eminently the blessing which rested upon Abraham, by virtue of that covenant, which God established with him. For it is expressly declared to be, the righteousness of faith, which was sealed to Abraham by circumcision. Romans iv. 11. Here let the reader recollect what has been said upon the righteousness connected with Abraham's faith; and especially, let him carefully notice, by an inspection of the context, that the apostle is not speaking of the righteousness of Abraham's faith, as an exercise; i. e. of the moral qualities of his faith, but of something, which, by faith, he found.
The Abrahamic covenant was the ministration of the Spirit; and so is the new covenant.
The former brought the person, in whom it took effect, into that relation, that God was actually his God; and so does the latter.
There was no curse wrought into the Abrahamic covenant; nor is there any into the new covenant. The former remains, or is everlasting; and the latter has the character, that it remaineth.
The former was confirmed of God in Christ; and so is the latter.
The execution of the one, is also the execution of the other.*
We conclude therefore, with certainty, that, agreebly to all that has been said upon the Abrahamic covenant, that and this are the same. The promises, objects, and Mediator of the covenant are the same; and the covenant, as it takes effect, is the same. The Abrahamic covenant was then transmitted, and executed, through successive generations of the Isrealitish people, till the Messiah. And as certain as it was, it is
"I am apprehensive, that if the matter should be accurately examined, it would be found, that the Abrahamic covenant of circumcision, and the Sinai covenant, are not so very distinct as Podobaptists seem to suppose." Andrews's Vindication, page 34. The reader will judge.