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restored, the world, the Lord, “ the God of glory," in his own sovereign grace, appeared unto our Father Abram, when he was yet in Mesopota. mia, and commanded him to leave his country, to separate bimself from his kindred, to quit even his father's house, and to follow the direction of the Lord as to the country to which he was to go. The Lord then enforced the precept by a most gracious promise—“ And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a great blessing; and I will bless them that bless thee, and him who lightly esteemeth thee I will curse; and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” Now, it is to this first appearance of the God of glory unto our ancient ancestor Abram, that we purpose to devote the first chapter of this our Treatise, The PROMISES MADE UNTO THE FATHERS. And we shall only add, as a preliminary observation, that just as we have considered the first prophecy, contained in a solitary verse,* to have been one which extended itself over the whole surface of time, furnishing an epitome of this world's history, from the fall of man to the final discomfiture of Satan ;t so do we consider the simple and short narrative under consideration to be a beautiful abridgment of all the propheciessome relating to the universal reign of the Messiah, the PROMISED SEED to Abraham ; and others, speaking of the promises made to those who are called of God, which promises are scattered over the whole firmament of the scroll of inspiration. It has always appeared to us, that one of the most peculiar characteristics of divine revelation is this, that the LORD first states His whole mind in a few strong, yet rather dark, sayings, in order thereby to exercise the faith of the man of God; and then gradually enlarges and unfolds His mysterious announcement.
Manifold are the reflections which press themselves upon our mind whenever we think of the call of our progenitor, and which must have also crowded the mind of that friend of God. Abraham must now and then have thought, “What meaneth this separation from my country, from my kindred, and from my father's house? Abel, Enoch, Noah, and Shem, they were not enjoined to do the like.” He must have also reasoned within himself—" How shall these great and glorious blessings be accomplished in me, seeing that I am childless ?" That such thoughts occupied the patriarch's mind—though he “ departed as the Lord had spoken unto him”-is evident from the expression he gave vent to when the Lord appeared unto him the fourth time—“And Abram said, Lord God, what wilt Thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus ? And Abram said, Behold, to me Thou hast given no seed ; and lo, one born in my house is mine heir." 1 Yet though Abraham saw not, at his first interview with the LORD, the purposes of the Almighty, we who have now the whole Scripture of truth spread before us, and have the whole extent of the banner of salvation unfurled before our eye of faith, are able to penetrate into the eternal mind of the Spirit, and behold those wonderful things which angels desired to look into. We can now discern the eternal purpose of our heavenly Father. Abraham was selected as the father of that nation whom God was pleased to choose as a separate people, to make known the glory due to His name, and to be the race from whom the promised seed should spring.
Genesis iii, 15.
† See N. S. No. 1, pp. 4-14,
# Genesis xv, 2, 3.
Concerning whom Balaam was obliged to prognosticate" Lo, the people shall dwell alone, and shall not be reckoned among the nations."* Concerning whom "Thus saith the Lord, which maketh a way in the sea, and a path in the mighty waters.
This people have I formed for myself ; they shall show forth my praise."| Abraham being a type of that people, we see, therefore, the transcendent beauty and harmony in God's dealings, by commanding him, saying, “Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will show thee.”
As Abraham's children after the flesh, we cannot help viewing this our patriarch as a type of the present state of his descendants : the Jews were intended, and trained, to be a wandering nation, to perpare them, probably, for their mighty dispersion. It was, therefore, necessary that the patriarch should lead the way, and thus we read—“ The Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will show thee;" and we are likewise informed in the same sacred volume, that his descendants have ever and anon manifested a peculiar migratory disposition. Again, as children of Abraham by faith, we consider this “friend of God” as a most striking type of his faithful children, who are called by divine grace, from darkness into the glorious light of the Gospel. The same command is given to every one of his descendants, who is now called to lead a new life-a life of faith and holiness. We can bear witness to the fact from experience. No sooner did the Lord, in His boundless mercy and compassion, whisper into our ear, “My son, give me thine heart," than the injunction given to our faithful forefather followed, viz., “ Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house.” Yea, every individual faithful Jewish believer, every Israelite of God, can attest the same. Every individual son of Abraham, who is called to be a a member of the true Church of God, has the following words addressed to him :-" Hearken, o daughter, and consider, and incline thine ear ; forget also thine own people, and thy father's house; so shall the King greatly desire thy beauty; for He is thy Lord, and worship thou Him;"Š which Bishop Horne thus justly paraphrases :—“O thou, whom I have begotten unto a lively hope, by the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, and whom I have called out of the world to become the Lamb's wife,' hearken diligently to my voice, consider attentively what I say, and be obedient to my direction; thou art now entering into a new state ; let old things pass away, regard no more thy connections with earth : but let the love, and, if possible, the very memory of thy former condition, be obliterated from thy mind; let all things belonging to the flesh die in thee: then shalt thou be truly acceptable and dear to His sight, who, having purchased and betrothed thee to Himself, justly claims thy whole beart, thy undivided love, and thy unlimited service and adoration.” We affirm that every Jew, who is brought back into the fold of the Shepherd of Israel-the Redeemer-may appropriate to himself the following beautiful and encouraging announcement:-" But thou, Israel, art my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham my friend. Thou whom
• Numbers xxiii. 9.
Isaiah xliii. 16, 21. Ś Psalm xlv. 10, 11.
I have strengthened more than the ends of the earth, and called thee in preference to the chief men thereof, and said unto thee, Thou art my servant, I have chosen thee, and not cast thee away. Thou shalt not fear; for I am with thee: thou shalt not look round, for I am thy God: I have already strengthened thee, yea, I have already helped thee, yea, I have already upheld thee with the right hand of my RIGHTEOUS ONE."*
We are, moreover, frequently enjoined to make Abraham our model. Thus we read :-"Hearken to me, ye that follow after righteousness, ye that seek the Lord; look unto the rock whence ye are hewn, and to the hole of the pit whence ye are digged. Look unto Abraham your father, and unto Sarah that bare you ; for I called him alone, and blessed him, and increased him."t That this is a right view of the call of Abraham, is proved by our Lord's reply to a remark of Peter :—" Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, there is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake and the Gospel's, but he shall receive an hundred fold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions: and in the world to come eternal life;"I which is nothing more or less than a paraphrase of the words under review. “Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will show thee: and I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing.” Moreover, not only is the same command enjoined, and the same promise given, to the children of the natural stock of Abraham, but also to those who are the branches of the wild olivetree, graffed in among the former, and with them partake of the root and fatness of the good olive-tree, who are also called the children of Abraham. For St. Paul, when writing to the Church of Galatia, having occasion to allude to the passage under consideration, speaks after this
-“ 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. ... 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." So that every faithful Gentile believer may and does likewise experimentally attest the applicability of the nature of his father's calling to his own case. It is an undeniable fact, that many Gentile believers, children of godless parents, though professing Christians, are, as soon as they are called to lead the same life as was their spiritual father, compelled to leave their kindred, and quit even their father's house. But just as both believing Jews and Gentiles are partakers of Abraham's trials, so do they also participate in his delightful privileges. “Abraham was called the friend of God.” Yes, as an affectionate and attached friend, God often visited him, He frequently held communion with him; He made known to bim his future purposes; He comforted him in the hour of trial, saying, “ Fear not,
* Is. lxi 8-10. The above is not only the most intelligible, but also the most literal rendering of the original. † Ibid. li. 1, 2. † Mark x. 29-30.
§ Gal. iii. 7-9, 28, 29.
Abraham, I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.” But this privilege is also extended to all those who are partakers of Abraham's faith. Thus saith our Lord to His disciples—" Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth; but I have called you friends ; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you."* Harmoniously, then, as every passage of a Saviour's love should strike upon our ears, a peculiar delight should be felt by those who have experienced the power of redeeming mercy in this promise to Abraham, which not only gives, in general terms, an assurance of pardon and peace to the world, but rests it in an individual and his posterity, separated and sanctified unto that end, for safe keeping unto the coming of the promised seed. A Bible, a Gospel, and a Saviour, are the blessings thus given to Abraham, and left by him as a rich legacy to the Church.t
We have not as yet noticed the all-important promise of the SAVIOUR OF THE WHOLE WORLD, the God-Man, or the 71' nx WX, whom Eve thought she got in the murderer Cain-made unto Abraham. It is perfectly plain to us, as it must be to every Jew well-read in the Old Testament Scriptures, that the God of glory, at His first appearance to our renowned patriarch, had made known to him the mystery of godliness, God manifested in the flesh.” It may be true, however, that our progenitor did not comprehend, at his first interview with the Lord the full meaning of this augast mystery. It is not at all improbable that his thoughts were baffled when attempting to unravel the yet dark intimations and undeveloped statements respecting the Messiah, and his reason was compelled to humble herself before the overpowering announcement of the stupendous truth, that the Eternal Son of God would not take upon Himself the nature of angels, but that of the seed of Abraham, and thus implicit faith had been the result of his reasoning. It must have been fine discipline for the father of the faithful, when, at every step in his research, he found his reason constrained to submit to revelation, and himself thrown on his faith, required to admit truth because the Almighty had spoken it, and not because he himself could demonstrate it. We can almost discern the process of argument going on in Abraham's mind, after he received the first communication from the OMNISCIENT. “ Does not the Lord say, 'I will bless them that bless thee ?'—verily, to bless is His prerogative alone—what meaneth, then, the words, and thou shalt be a blessing,' as also, in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed ?' Again, how am I to be made known to all the families of the earth ?!” We can imagine that, after finding that his intellect was too weak to master this profound mystery, he was obliged to own his short-coming in penetrating the mind of God, and implicitly believe that the Almighty, who was graciously pleased to make this extraordinary revelation to him, had some undeveloped arrangements in view, which were as yet not made clearly known to the children of men, and, therefore, he thought within himself, “what I know not now, I shall know hereafter.” Well might he have exclaimed with Moses, “The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things that are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever;" I or with St. Paul, “O the depth of the riches both of
* John xy. 15.
| Deuteronomy xxix. 29.
the wisdom and knowledge of God ! how unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out ! For who hath known the mind of the Lord, or who hath been His counsellor ?"* which may have been followed by an outburst of faith such as this, “ Lord, I believe, help thou mine unbelief.” Hence the inspired recorder tells us, that the result of God's revelation to Abraham was, “He believed in God, and He counted it to him for righteousness." But though Abraham did not see clearly “the mystery of godliness," we, as was already observed, can plainly behold that the Messiah, the “God manifested in the flesh," was announced to him ; and we are not a little pained and grieved at the fact of our having handled the Old Testament for many years, and reinained groping in the darkness of ignorance respecting Him who is the life of the world, in whom "all the families of the earth are to be blessed. After having the promise enlarged upon by the Lord Himself, in his subsequent revelations to Abraham, which we shall examine in our following chapters ; -after having Jacob's prophecy respecting Shiloh—"The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto HIM SHALL THE GATHERING OF THE PEOPLE BE;'I -after having the promise to Abraham illustrated by such passages of Scripture as the following.--"His name shall endure for ever ; His name shall be continued as long as the sun, and men shall be blessed in Him; all nations shall call Him blessed."'S “ That he who blesseth himself in the earth shall bless himself in the God of truth ; and he that sweareth in the earth, shall swear by the God of truth ; because the former troubles are forgotten, and because they are hid from our eyes;"l-in short, after having read Moses and the Prophets, how could we have been such fools, and so slow of heart to believe in Jesus as the incarnate God, promised to Abraham ! But it is the Spirit alone who can teach us those things which are necessary for our soul's salvation. Saul of Tarsus was once as blind to the things belonging to his peace, as we were; but when it pleased the Lord to call him, He enabled him to see those things which were once bid from his eyes ; and respecting the passage under consideration, as we have already observed, he thus remarked ;-“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." We would affectionately beseech our readers from amongst our Jewish brethren -of whom there are already a considerable number—to examine well the import of the brief chronicle of the call of our forefather Abraham ; and we earnestly entreat them, when expounding it, not to wander in the paths of their own imaginations, but make God the interpreter of His own words. We tell our brethren of the house of Israel that there is no better exposition of the Bible than the Bible itself, and we speak from experience. We would, however, venture to recommend to them, that whenever they set about examining any passage of Scripture, to precede it with the short but fervent prayer which David—the man who was raised up concerning the Messiah, the God of Jacob-uttered, viz., “ Open Thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law." ** * Romans xi. 33, 34. | Genesis xv. 6.
Genesis xlix. 16. $ Psalm lxxii. 17. | Isaiah lxv, 16.
Galatians iii, 8. ** Psalm cxix, 18.