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he was, in this sense, a father of many nations. Call the descendants of Ishmael a distinct nation, and, if you please, the descendants of Esau another distinct nation, still you have, including the posterity of Jacob, but three nations; a number too small to justify the expression many nations. The Apostles, by their statements, and their practice, have given us the true meaning of this phraseology. They uniformly represent all believers as embraced in the covenant made with Abraham; and the members of every country and nation, who receive the truth, as the children of Abraham. Thus as the gospel of the kingdom spreads, and nation after nation submits to the authority of Jesus Christ, the word of promise receives farther exemplification, "A father of many nations have I made thee." Not only did the inspired teachers of Christianity declare to the believ ing Jews, who were natural descendants of Abraham; "Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, and in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed."* But the Apostle Paul, in his Epistles to the Romans and Galatians, employs a similar phraseology concerning converts from heathenism; and positively asserts that the provisions of the Abrahamic covenant extend to them, and that they too are the children of promise. To the believing Romans, he writes thus: "And he (i. e. Abraham) received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the
*Acts iii. 25,
faith which he had, yet being uncircumcised, that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed to them also: And the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised. For the promise that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed: not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all; as it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations."* To the Galatians, he says, "Know ye therefore, that they -which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham: That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles, through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise."†
It is then perfectly evident, that in the covenant made with Abrahamn, we not only discover the oriGal. iii. 7, 8, 9, 14, 29.
* Kom. iv. 11, 12, 13, 16, 17.
ginal organization of the visible church; but also, as expressive of the intention of the Head of the Church, the necessary arrangements and directions, to perpetuate both her existence and her purity. And it is as impossible that the church should becone extinct or corrupt, while the plan laid down by Jehovah is faithfully adhered to, as it is to convict Him of weak design, or inefficient operation. All corruption in the church, in her government, her ordinances, and her worship, may be traced to human and impious interference with the plans of unerring Wisdom. And we care not whether the professed object in departing from the law of God's house be to meet the views and accommodate the wishes of corrupt and ungodly men, who cannot bear the restraints of God's covenant; or whether it be to deliver the church from all hypocrisy and false profession, and confine her limits to the company of true believers. We feel bound to bear our testimony against it; and to condemn it as unauthorized innovation, and bold presumption.
When the tabernacle was to be erected in the wilderness, the charge was imperative: "See that thou make all things according to the pattern showed to thee in the Mount."* The spirit of this direction is still in force. "In vain," said Christ,† "do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men." Firm and faithful adherence to the principles of God's covenant, and the ordinances of his worship, is at once the interest
* Heb. viii. 5
Mat. xv. 9.
and the glory of the church. If we lower the standard of covenant qualifications, and relax the discipline of God's house, we mar the beauty of the church-we dishonour her glorious Lord-and we profane his ordinances. And on the other hand, as has well been remarked, "to seck to be more pure than the rule, will ever end in impurity in the issue. God hath so framed his covenant, and consequently the constitution of his church thereby, as to design a continuation and propagation of his kingdom therein from one generation to another. Hence the covenant runs to us, and to our seed after us, in their generations. To keep in the line, and under the influence and efficacy of this covenant of God, is the true way to the, church's glory."*
To conclude this article: The covenant made with Abraham, by declaring all believers, whether of the circumcision or the uncircumcision, children of Abraham, and heirs according to the promise, makes provision for the perpetuity of the church, and sustains its character as the everlasting covenant.+
4. The fourth and last fact suggested by an examination of the Abrahamic covenant is this: The one seal of church-membership was circumcision un+ Gen. xvii. 13.
*Mather's Mag. Vol. ii. p. 251.
The one seal. Whatever the covenant, made with Abraham, was designed to accomplish, was sealed by circumcision. Examine the covenant fifty times, and you will not find n ention made of any other seal than cirimcision. As for the Passover, it was not instituted until about four hundred years afterwards. And who will undertake to say, that the Abra
der the law, which has been superseded by baptisu under the gospel.
Both circumcision and the passover, as we have repeatedly stated, were sacraments of the covenant of grace, under the legal dispensation. Both bạptism and the Lord's supper are sacraments, under the evangelical dispensation. But by that particular exhibition of the covenant of grace, called the Abrahamic covenant, circumcision' was made the proper badge and token of membership. This was its special use.*-The Jew, who was not circumcised, did
hamic covenant was not properly sealed until four hundred years of its existence had passed away? To say, that the covenant of grace had more than one sacramental seal, is saying nothing to the purpose. Every sacrifice was a sacrament; but not the appropriate sacrament and seal of the Abrahamic covenant. The Noaic covenant, too, was predicated on the covenant of grace. It was an exhibition of the covenant of grace securing the preservation of the earth, for the accomplishment of the work of the "Seed of the woman," in the salvation of the "election of grace." But the Noaic covenant, as such, never had any other sacramental seal than the rainbow. So with respect to the Abrahamic covenant, circumcision is its one seal; and as the organization and preservation of a visible church, for the transmission of saving blessings through this channel to the true Israel, the elect of God, was the great object contemplated in the Abrahamic covenant, membership in the visible church could then be properly and effectually sealed only by circumcision-the same which is now done by baptism.
*This was its special use. The sacrament of circumcision, in addition to its use, in common with the other sacraments, to seal an interest in "the righteousness of faith," and the benefits of the covenant of grace in general, was an initiatory rite ; while the passover was a commemorative and confirming ordi