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thou eat all the days of thy life." In the seventeenth verse we again hear of cursing. "And unto Adam he said, because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life."
Should it be urged that God spake all the words of the law, in which there are a variety of curses denounced upon offenders, we answer, that as it was the original design of God to appear in our nature under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, we cannot see that the curses of the law are contradictory to the blessings or the promises which contain those blessings. God forbid that they should be thus considered. Nay, although it was through the instrumentality of Moses and of Aaron, that the law was given, yet even Aaron and his sons are commanded to bless the people.
Secondly, What are we to understand by the blessing pronounced upon the people? Various descriptions of blessings are pointed out, but we shall at present confine ourselves to two particular instances. The first is recorded in the Acts of the Apostles, iii. 26, "God having raised up his son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities." Here the Apostle Peter delineates the nature and extent of the blessing. It is to turn every one of you from his iniquities. The second particular instance which indeed includes every thing that can lay claim to durable importance is recorded in Ephesians i. 3, "Blessed be the God and Father of our LORD Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ." Here the divine nature is represented as blessing the human nature with spiritual blessings, with all spiritual blessings, not temporal blessings in carthly places, but with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places; and to show that these blessings can never be lost, God hath given them to us in Christ Jesus. Again, it is not a promise that he will bless us in future, but God hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.
Thirdly, The second clause in the blessing with which the people were to be blest, refers to their preservation. The Lord bless thee and keep thee. It is frequently observed,they must be well kept whom God keeps; therefore it is with strict propriety, that David
saith in the hundredth and twenty-first Psalm, "He will not suffer thy foot to be moved. Behold he that keepeth Israel, shall neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD is thy keeper: the LORD is thy shade upon thy right hand. The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night. The LORD shall preserve thee from all evil; he shall preserve thy soul." Again, the Apostle Peter, in his first Epistle, in the genuine spirit of inspiration, thus expresseth himself: "Blessed be the God and Father of our LORD Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. To an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you."
From these testimonies it is evident, that it is the soul that is especially kept, the soul that is preserved, and that God, in his abundant mercy, hath already begotten us again. When we were first conceived, it was in sin, and subjected by law to death; but God hath begotten us again unto a lively hope, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. As Jesus, when lifted up from the earth, drew all men unto him,as Jew and Gentile were reconciled in one body on the cross, as the fulness of Jew and Gentile constituted the fulness of the body of our second Adam, in his death, his burial, and his resurrection, the royal Psalmist, in the seventh and eight verses of the second Psalm, speaking in the character of him that sitteth in the heavens, emphatically says, "I will declare the detree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. Ask of me, and I will give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession." The Apostle, directed by the spirit of truth, thus expresseth himself. "And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers, God hath fulfilled unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again;" as it is also written in the second Psalm, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.
It was to Jesus Christ, in his public character, the divine Nature said on his resurrection from the dead, This is my Son, my beloved Son; this day have I begotten thee. Therefore the Spirit of God directeth the Apostle Peter to say, He hath begotten us again unto a lively hope, which hope is full of immortality by the resurrection of Jesus Christ. But this is not all-Peter is constrained to tell us what we are begotten unto. It is to an VOL. III.
incorruptible inheritance. He who died to purchase a lost race, must not, cannot be defeated; and hence we are kept by the power of God, through faith, unto full salvation, ready to be revealed in the last time.
If we would know what this salvation, ready to be revealed in the last time intends, we have only to turn to Revelations xi. 15, "And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our LORD, and of his Christ; and he shall reign forever and ever." Again xii. 10, "And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night." But if we be desirous of becoming still better acquainted with that salvation which is to be revealed in the last times, let us listen to the Apostle Peter, "And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you. Whom the heavens must receive until the time of the restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began."
But pursuing our inquiries relative to the nature and extent of the salvation, to be revealed in the last times, we cannot pass by Revelations xiii. 5, "And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth on the throne, and unto the Lamb forever and ever."
Thus the blessed are to be kept by the power of God, for the enjoyment of the inheritance reserved in heaven for the saved of the LORD, and to be revealed in the last times, which salvation is a salvation from sin, from its cause and effect, consequent on the destruction of the devil and his works.
But who are they, that by the power of God are to be thus kept? To this question, the following scriptures furnish a full answer. The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy; I am come, that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. I am the good Shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring; and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold and one shepherd. And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither
shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, who gave them me, is greater than all, and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand. I and my Father are one.
They who by the power of God are kept unto this salvation, are all that the Father gave unto the Son. But who did the Father give unto the Son? Our blessed Master, John iii. 35, declares, "The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand." Again, John xiii. 3, "Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God and went to God." Again, He who said I am the truth declares, John xvi. 15, "All things that the Father hath are mine, and therefore, said I, he shall take of mine and show it unto you." God the Creator, saith Ezekiel xviii. 4, "Behold all souls are mine; as the soul of the Father, so also the soul of the Son is mine."
If then all souls belonged unto the Father, and all that the Father had he gave unto the Son, as heir of all things, for whom all things were made, and if all souls belonged unto the divine Nature, and were put into the hands of the Son, who is the head of every man, and if none can pluck them out of his hand, then assuredly they who are kept by the power of God unto salvation, unto that salvation which is to be revealed in the last times, must be every individual of mankind; every individual must constitute the fulness of Jew and Gentile, the every man for whom Jesus, by the grace of God, tasted death. Blessed be God for thus manifesting to our understandings,that this division of the blessing, and keep thee, is by the grace of God the portion of the whole human race. Not now as heretofore confined to the Jews. For the middle wall of partition being broken down, Jew and Gentile are considered as one Israel redeemed by the LORD, and blessed with all spiritual blessings in Christ Jesus.
E are now to proceed in our subject.
Fourthly, The next division of this memorable blessing, is thus most beautifully expressed. The LORD make his face to
shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee. The ambassadors of the Most High are truly privileged; they are sent forth with a commission to bless; curses should never be found in their mouths. Go ye into all the world and preach my gospel to every creature, this is the matter of the embassy, the consequences are the effect, and make no part of their declaration. The gospel is glad tidings. How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace, that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation, that saith unto Zion, thy God reigneth! Surely the LORD is gracious unto such individuals, unto such messengers of peace; surely the LORD maketh his face to shine upon them.
The countenance or face is an index to the mind. Men discover their good or evil disposition toward each other by their countenances. Thus Jacob said unto his wives Rachel and Leah, "I see your Father's countenance that it is not toward me as before, although I have served him so long, and although he has changed my wages so many times," and from the appearance of his countenance he concluded he was not his friend.
We read in the countenance the disposition of the man toward us. The Psalmist prays, "Behold, O God, our shield and look upon the face of thine anointed." The glory of God is conspicuous in the face of Jesus, the glory of God is the fulness of grace and truth, and this grace and truth is beheld in the shining, which is the light of God's countenance. The sweet singer of Israel impressively says and devoutly supplicates, "There be many that say, Who will shew us any good? LORD, lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon us," as though he had said in the light of thy countenance we shall discern every felicity. "Make thy face to shine upon thy servant: save me for thy mercy's sake, God be merciful unto us and bless us; and cause his face to shine upon us. (Sclah.
From the creation of Adam until the present moment every child of God hath deprecated the hiding of God's face as the greatest possible calamity.
"How long wilt thou forget me, O LORD? Forever? How long wilt thou hide thy face from me; hide not thy face far from me; put not thy servant away in anger; thou hast been my help, leave me not, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation." The prophet Isaiah declares he will wait upon the LORD that hideth