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lasting possession; to thee, and to thy seed after thee, will I give the land of Canaan for an everlasting possession." Our exposition, therefore, is confirmed, that the temporary possession of Palestine by the natural descendants of Abraham, was not that intended. It appears, too, that whatever the blessed inheritance is which is intended by this grant of Canaan for an everlasting possession, the enjoyment of it will belong, in some way or other, to Abraham, and to all who walk in the footsteps of his faith. For the apostle tells us, that the meaning of the Divine oracle, " I have made thee a father of many nations," is to be understood of Abraham being constituted, in the sight of God, the spiritual father and representative of all true believers.—That God spake as about to raise the dead, and spake of things far distant in time, as though they were then present, and already accomplished. "See, I have made thee a father of many nations!" The natural Israel, we see, is not here exclusively designed, though we know that " the Israel of God" was long contained in that nation, and among its proselytes from other nations; and this family is once more to have the pre-eminence among the nations of the earth: but, in the present dispensation, commencing with the New Testament, "Many are to come from the east and from the west, and from the north, and from the south; and are to sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven." And " the promise," the apostle hath told us, "is sure to all the seed; not to that which is of the law only, but to that which is of the faith of our father Abraham." *
Secondly: These promises, which form the Abrahamic covenant, were so worded as to embrace among the children of Abraham one particular seed or person; in him all these promises were first to meet, and from his blessed person, for he is blessed, and the author of blessings to others, they were to diverge upon all the children of promise. Thus St. Paul writes to the Galatians: "Now to Abraham, and his seed, were the promises made. He saith not, and to seeds, as of many; but as of one, and to thy seed, which is Christ." * "The covenant was confirmed of God in Christ." f He is " the seed to whom the promise was made."J It appears, therefore, that the father of the faithful, and all his believing children, numerous as the stars of heaven, are in the same manner interested in these promises; by believing in God, who raised up Christ from the dead — "Christ delivered for our sins, and raised again for our justification." "The Scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe."|| "For ye are all the children of God, by faith in Jesus Christ. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female, for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise." § What "the woman and her seed" signifies in the promise made to our first parents, the same is signified by " Abraham, and his seed after him," in the Abrahamic covenant. They are both symbols of the regenerated family of God, of whose flesh the Son of God is to be made, that he may become their Redeemer; and having rescued them from sin and death, and avenged them on
all their enemies, may, at the last day, put them in possession of a heavenly and everlasting kingdom — a kingdom heavenly in its nature, and everlasting in its duration; though hereafter to be manifested on earth, at a certain period, and to rule over it, in some connexion which we are yet to discover, with the possession of the land of Canaan by a people descended from the patriarchs. Thus Abraham, at the same time that he contemplated in the land of Canaan a country that he is afterwards to have for his inheritance, expected also a city that hath foundations, whose maker and builder is God. Accordingly we read, not only that the eternal Word " was made flesh," but also that " he took upon him the seed of Abraham." * Therefore, when we read that Abraham saw his day, his great emphatic day, can we suppose he saw less than Job, when he speaks of his Redeemer: "God of his flesh, who should stand up on the earth at the last day?" We are warranted, then, in referring the promises made to Abraham, in their ultimate accomplishment, to the second advent.
Hence we find, that what was covenanted with Abraham, is pointed out by the apostle as being still the grounr's of a Christian's future hopes: "And we desire that every one of you do show thfe same diligence, to the full assurance of hope unto the end; that ye be not slothful, but followers of them, who, through faith and patience, inherit the promises. For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he swore by himself; saying, Surely, blessing, Twill bless thee; and multiplying, I will multiply thee. So after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise. For
• H*b. ii. 16.
men verily swear by the greater, and an oath for confirmation is to them the end of all strife. Wherefore God, willing more abundantly to show unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath; that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge, to lay hold upon the hope set before us; which we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast; and which entereth into that within the veil, whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus."* I have ventured to assert, that the original promise to Abraham of the land of Canaan for an everlasting possession, and all the promises belonging to the Abrahamic covenant, properly so called, respected those heavenly blessings in a future state of being, which are promised to the faithful alone: and though an occupation of the land of Canaan by Abraham's children, in a future dispensation of the kingdom of Christ, is one of its mysteries; yet that the promise has no immediate reference to the temporal settlement of the twelve tribes in Canaan, under the conduct of Moses and Joshua. But we are to bear in mind, that there was another covenant made with Abraham, that did especially embrace this object — the bestowal of the land of Canaan, not upon the children of the promise only, but upon the whole nation of Abraham's natural descendants. This grant was not unconditional, nor pending on faith alone; neither was the grant contemplated as an everlasting possession. The particulars of this covenant may be read in the fifteenth chapter of Genesis, to which I refer the reader. The reflection of the sacred writer on this transaction is, "' In the same day God made
* Chap. vi. 11.
a covenant with Abraham, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates."* "In the fourth generation they shall come hither and possess it." f These two covenants it becomes us ever to keep distinct in our view; for though in the execution of the latter there may be seen, what may be pointed out as a type of the former, and as having a subservient connexion with it, yet they are two things perfectly separate in themselves; and we shall find in subseo^ent Scriptures, sometimes one covenant is referred to, and sometimes the other: and, perhaps, this distinction between the two covenants given to the family of Abraham, may enable us to discover the difference between " the birthright" and " the blessing," in the story of the two sons of Isaac. The birthright had respect to something that should be after death. He that gave the promise, must raise the dead in order to fulfil it. This the profane Esau despised, for he walked not in the footsteps of Abraham's faith. But the blessing was something more substantial in his view, the settlement of his children in the rich country of Canaan. However, both covenants were to be confirmed to Jacob. His twelve sons inherit between them, at the appointed time, the fertile region of Palestine; and to one of them, to Judah, the birthright is conveyed; and he is distinguished from the rest of his brethren by this remarkable blessing when his father blesses his children before his death:—
The sceptre shall not depart from Judah,
Nor the ruler's staff from between his feet,
Until Shiloh come:
And to him shall be the gathering of the peoples.
• Ver. 18. f Ver. 16.