Page images

ye can break

men, and with the stripes of the children of men ! But my mercy shall not depart away from bin, as I took it from Saul, whom I took away before thee. And thy houses and thy kingdom, shall be established before thee forever: tly throne shall be established forever"-Of tnis covepant the Lord saith, Jer. 33–20-21~If

my covenant of the day, and my covenant of the night, and that there should pot be day and night, in their scasonthieu shall also my covenant with David my servant be bruken, that he should not have a son to sit upon his throne."-On this covenant observe,

1. It was a sovereign act of God in choosing David.

2. The throne and sceptre were promised to him Unconditionally,

3. This covenant could not be broken.

4. It was all promise, but its blessings were temporal, a throne, a sceptre, a kingdom, and heirs.

5. It had no seal or confirmation, but the octh of God.

6. It continued until Shiloh came, for then the sceptre was departing from Judah--but Christ, David's son, and David's Lord, hath been seated on the throne of Glory? and

6- Thence extends his sceptred hand,

And sways creation's ample bounds." Thus have I briefly noticed the grand outlines of the seven Covenants or dispensations of things, previous to the Christian Era; from all which we learn the following things :

1. That, cominands, promises, appointments, and ordi. nances of God, are equally called covenants. Hence the term covenant signifies an appointment, a constitution, or dispensation.

2. That, every covenant is a gift originating in the sov. ereign and independent mind of God. That he only bes. tows, and we only receive; we never stipulate.

3. That, all covenants which have conditions in them are subject to be broken, but those that are unconditional, cannot be broken.

4. That, of the covenants which we have specified, three only could be broken, and these three were broken, viz.-The covenant with Adam, the covenant of circumsision, and the covenant at Sinai. But the covenant of day and night with Noah--the covenant confirmed of

of God in Christ, the covenant of the mitre, and that of the sceptre, could not be broken.

5. That, of the unconditional covenants, two ran out, Vic.--The covenant of the priesthood and the covenant of royalty. These were to be co-existent with the Jewish state ; and when that expired, they of course espired with it. Moreover, these were emblematical of the priesthood and royalty of the Messiah, and when he was invested with the ofices of priest and king, as the only mediator betwixt God and man, the map Christ Jesus, these were of no consequence; they were as the shell when the kernel is extracted.

6. Of the retaining two unconditional covenants, one only is spiritual, and strictly everlasting, viz. the covey inant of blessing all families in Christ. The covenant of day and night, will expire when time shall be no longer; it was only to be commensurate with time. But the corenant of God in Christ will, in its actual accomplishment, remain for ever and ever: the enjoyment of its blessings will be commensurate with eternity.

7. Four of t'iese seven covenants, viz. the circumcision --the two tables--the priesthood and the royalty, being given to, and belonging to the children of the fiesh, or natural sed of Abrahain, as such; are often viewed as one grand dispensation of things, and together caller!, * the dispensation of the law;" because of their bring inseparably connected in forming one great , typical nation, and having a reciprocal bearing on one acother, llence, in the New Testament, they are always callesi t'le laro, except für some particular purpose, a discrimination becomes necessary.' Then we read of the corenant of circumcision," of " the tables of the covenant," of thë * priesthood of Aaro!" and of “thernyalty of Darid.”

8. Under the four last mentioned covenants, all their blessings were enjoyed by natural birth. Every male child was circumcised and entitled to tlie blessinys of the circumcision, because he was of Jewish parents. Their being wicked could not deprive their children of this blessing. Every Levite by birth was to inherit all the peculiar blessings of the house of Levimevery first born son in the house of Aaron, in the elder branch of the fimily, was born high priest. if he was compos corporis. Every first born son in the house of David for the most part was born a king, whether a wise man or a foul--augs

every first born of man and beast was born dedicated to the Lord. 'The fleshly birth alone qualified them for the enjoyment of all these blessings. This is an insuperable evidence that these blessings were not spiritual, but merely temporal.*

9. In regard of the seals of these covenants we have to observe, that the word seal is no where applied to any of them in the Bible. In exhibiting the grand outlines of these seven covenants, where I found any thing that had l'eceived the name of seal, I gave it that name in accommodation to the common apprehension of these things but I did it with the design of reviewing the term, and its usage, in this connection of ideas. But three of them had any thing answering to that which is called a seal. Before I proceed any further in my remarks on this term, I shall define it. In Johnson's dictionary it is thus defined a stamp; a confirmation."

Walker defines it “a stamp engraved with a peculiar impression, which is fixed upon the wax that closes a letter, or affixed as a testimony ;any act of confirmation."On consulting Parkhurst, Doctor Campbell, Cruden, Stockius, and other classical authorities, I discover that the term sphragis, si. g'illum, usually translated seal, and which is the word used Rom. 4, 11, denotės a confirmative mark, a security, an attestation, the act of secreting any thing. Of these, the phraze confirmative mark, is that which ex. presses the force of the word, in regard to any covenant transaction betwixt man and man. Thus the seal of state is an expression of the confirmation of that to which it

* Notwithstanding it has been and may be justly asserted, that the blessings, the privileges, or good things promised in șix of these covenants were external, earthly, and temporal goods; the fullest possible enjoyment of which, would have amounted to no more than a happy life in this world, under the Divine government; yet it by no means follows, that it is denied that spiritual blessings were enjoyed by many saints under the Jew. ish dispensation ; and before the Jewish dispensation, even in the Patriarchal age. But the spiritual blessings enjoyed in the

'atriarchal age, and during the Jewish age, were enjoyed by faith in the promise concerning Christ, first intimated to Adam, and given to Abraham, in the covenant of God in Christ. For all spiritual blessings have ever flowed in the same channel, and have ever been enjoyed on the same footing. The Gospel was exhibited to the Jews in many types, and such of them only as understood and believed in the great antitype enjoyed spirita pral blessings.

is affixed. Thus when men have signed and sealed any instrument, the seal attached to it is an evidence of the confirmation of it. Such is the meaning that every body that knows the meaning of the word affixes to it. We shall then use it as defined by these authorities, and, in respect of a covenant transaction, the oply meaning that is applicable in the first mentioned, viz. an act of confirmalion exhibited in some standing mark or token.

In the proper and federal use of the term, it can have no other meaning than the above, or that it is some external wark, sign, or token, affixed to such a transaction, which may be seen and adduced as an evidence in perpetuan rei memoriam, by which the validity of the deed, record or transaction, may be ascertained or evinced. in all time coming for the security and satisfaction of all concerned during the stipulated continuance of said deed or charter, But does it thence follow that every confir. matory rite may be justly denominated a seal; such as giving the right hand, subscribing one's name, giving a piece of money as the carnest for the full payment of the stipulated sum at the time appointed, or interposing the solemnity of an oath for the performence of a promise. We may make what use we please of terms, but surely to give to any of the above confirmative rites the denomination of a seal, would be an abuse of the term. If we wish to be clearly understood, and not to mislead, let us call things by their proper names. This is doubly necessary, wben we use terms that are not found in the scriptures, il, relation to those scriptural subjects to which we may please to apply them.

Three only of the covenants had seals attached to them, in the true sense of the word, viz. the Crvenant with Adam, which had tļie standing seal of the tree of life---the Covenant of Day and Night, with Noah, which had the standing seal or token of the rain-bowe; and the Covenant of Circumcision, which left a standing nark in the flesh- in perpetuem rei memoriem," in continual remeinbrance of the thing. These tokens attached to these covenants were truly seals, or marks of confirma. tion ; visible and evincive of the thing. These, like the stamp or seal of the state, were visible confirmative inarks, which were declarative of the thing. Win regard to the use of seals we may enquire, Who is to use them? I an. swer, none but those who can confirm the covenant-for

the sealing is the act of confirming, and the seal is the confirmative mark-God alone can confirm his own coyenants, and therefore he alone can seal them. If there be any condition in the covenant in the first instance, requiring the immediate consent of the parties, then it is necessary that both parties should sign it, as between man and man; but if one of the parties cannot coofirm, and therefore cannot seal, he must make the requirect mark which will shew his consent-and this was the case with regard to Circumcision. He, only, who has the ability to execute and accomplish, can confirm or seal;. and therefore, he that proposes to execute any things must first be supposed to be competent ; otherwise, his sealing the transaction can afford no security to others that it will be accomplished. Every seal is entitled to as much credit as the character or state merits whose seal it is. The sole intention of affixing a seal, is to inspire confidence in those who are interested in the transaction. The object of those seals which the Almighty has affixed to certain transactions, was solely to inspire and confirin confidence. To answer such a question as that which Abraham once proposed for his own personal satisfaction and confidence, “ Lord God how shall I know that I shall inherit ?" the Lord God confirmed, by a particular interview, the faith of Abraham, and inspired him with confidence that God would make a covenant with his seed and execute it.-Gen. 15.

The ratification or dedification of the covenant with Israel at Sinai, by the sprinkling of blood, was an act con. firmative of their faith ; yet it cannot, in strict proprietys be called a seal, any more than the oath or promise of God can be called a seal; though either of them may be, and actually is, confirmative of the faith of saints. "The ratification of the covenant at Sinai, was emblematical of the ratification of the New Testament, by the blood of the Surety. Under the New Testament, the only seal is that mark or impression which the spirit of God makes upon the heart or soul of the believer; because the objects of this covenant are personally and not nationally considered. The object of this seal is the personal satisfaction of the individual, and not an external mark set upon him for the confirmation of others, as circumcision was designed more for the satisfaction of others than for the subject of it; to convince the world that God had actually fulfilled

« PreviousContinue »