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2. There is an inheritance promised, for an everlasting possession, viz., that land in which Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob sojourned as strangers, extending from the Euphrates to the Mediterranean, and from the river of Egypt to Damascus. Note also here particularly, that this land is promised,—first, to that one pre-eminent seed, which is Christ; secondly, to the seed in general ; and thirdly, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob individually: the promise being frequently repeated, “ To thee, AND to thy seed.” Thus, also, the Lord declared to Moses, “ And I appeared unto Abraham, and unto Isaac, and unto Jacob," " and I have established my covenant with them, to give them the land of Canaan, the land of their pilgrimage, wherein they were strangers.
3. God promises to be the God of Abraham, and his seed.
4. That in him, and in his seed, (i. e., in the one pre-eminent seed especially, and in his offspring generally,) shall all families or nations of the earth be blessed.
5. That his seed shall possess the gate of their enemies.
6. That they shall be kings of peoples or nations. I have yet to point out two or three circum
* Exod. vi. 3, 4.
THE ABRAHAMIC COVENANT.
stances connected with this covenant that are to be understood either in a typical manner, or in the way of token and earnest; otherwise they may be confounded with the particulars just enumerated.
1. To a superficial observer it might appear that Isaac was the pre-eminent seed intended—the child of promise; for indeed the circumstances of his birth were remarkable. A careful consideration however of this matter will show, that a greater than Isaac is shadowed forth by him. For after the promise of a seed has been repeatedly made, God says of Sarah, “ And I will bless her and give thee a son also of her.” It is afterwards promised that this son shall be born at a set time in the following year; in order, doubtless, that Abraham might more evidently see the hand of God in the matter, and understand it as a token and pledge of the future seed.* Moreover, after Isaac is born, God still sustains the promise of the seed, both to him, and afterwards to his son Jacob, saying to each of them, “ In thee, and in thy seed, shall all nations be blessed."
This is a common circumstance in the Scriptures, when a prophecy is given, the fulfilment of which is to take place at some remote period; viz. either that some other thing is also predicted, the accomplishment of which is to be more immediate,
* Gen. xvii. 19, 21.
and to serve as a sign and pledge of the more distant one; or some partial and inchoate fulfilment is vouchsafed of the chief promise itself, which serves as an earnest of the remainder. We have instances of an exactly similar character with this sign given to Abraham. The birth of Solomon, e. g. was as a pledge to David of that same promised seed, which was to sit upon his throne. And afterwards, in the days of Ahaz, when the promise was again repeated in those words, “ Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel,” a more immediate token is given by the birth of another child, Maher-shalalhashbaz, who was borne by the prophetess, apparently the wife of Isaiah. That neither Solomon nor the child of the prophetess are the parties mainly intended, is again manifest from the promise being still sustained down into the time of Jeremiah, who foretels that the Branch of Righteousness should still grow up unto David. *
2. A second thing is foretold in this covenant, as a sign or earnest of the inheriting of the land. For Abraham asks, “ Lord God, whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it?”+ thus requesting a token, in the way of confirmation and assurance. The Lord grants a double one: the first, for the satisfaction of Abraham himself; the second, for * Jer. xxiii. 5; xxxiii. 15.
+ Gen. xv. 8.
the satisfaction of his Church in subsequent ages. For with Abraham he immediately enters into the most solemn form of covenant practised in those times, which would entirely remove all doubt from the mind of the believing patriarch himself. He directs him to take a heifer, and other animals, and having divided them to dispose the pieces in proper order; after which is seen a burning lamp, the symbol of the Lord's presence, passing between those pieces; and it is immediately added, “ That in the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abraham, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates.”
But, secondly, during this solemn proceeding, a horror of great darkness comes on Abraham, and the Lord informs him that his seed should be a stranger in a land not theirs, and that afterwards God would judge that nation, and bring them out with great substance; that in the meanwhile Abraham should be gathered to his fathers in peace, but that his posterity of the fourth generation should come hither again. This horror of great darkness, together with the prediction of Israel's bondage in Egypt, (a land not theirs,) and then of their coming again into Canaan, strikingly shadows forth that greater and still more horrible period of affliction and bondage, which they have
now endured for nearly eighteen centuries in strange lands, and their final redemption and restoration to Palestine, accompanied by judgments on the nations which have oppressed them. At the same time it is evident, that the fulfilment of the Exodus from Egypt, and the occupation of Canaan under Joshua, could be no token to Abraham himself; seeing that he was to sleep with his fathers previous to these events coming to pass. But they would constitute a striking pledge for believers in subsequent ages; who, looking back upon this past earnest, would be assured both of Israel's future redemption, and of their own blessed rest in that inheritance.
That they were only a token and earnest of a greater deliverance and of a more glorious occupation of the land, hereafter to be enjoyed, is manifest from what the Spirit of prophecy declares, under the law, of a time when these things should no longer come into mind, being eclipsed by the superior glory of the real event intended, and cast aside like all other mere types and shadows. For twice Jeremiah is moved to say, “ Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that it shall no more be said, The Lord liveth, that brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; but, The Lord liveth, that brought up the children of Israel from the land of the north, (mark that: not from