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ine distinctly the nature of the ordinance of circumcision.
By the general ordinances of faith, as they had been instituted and received previous to Abraham, men were taken into covenant with God through Christ, but by this of circumcision, men were taken into the covenant of God with Christ. Abraham, as has been observed, was taken with Christ into the divine enclosure, the sanctuary and holy tabernacle of God, which was a standing that no man upon the earth ever before had.....He, in this covenant, was introduced and brought forward immediately upon the ground of the divine will, even the law of redemption, he and his sons were engaged early in the morning to enter with Christ into the labors of God's vineyard, to bear with him the burden and heat of a long and fiery day. For as the divine will contains two distinct parts, that of the required work, and that of a promised reward; and as the work, as it respects the manifestation, was not as yet performed, of course we look to see Abraham, in such a standing, connected with this high principle in both views, and associated with Christ, not only in the promised reward, but also in the obligation of the service-work.
These distinct parts of the divine will, with which this standing of Abraham and seed so specially connected, are evidently the grounds of the distinction of the two covenants, viz. that of promise and that of works, which are so clearly delineated in the ancient state and regulations of this people. And after all the perplexity which these views of two covenant relations, every where interspersed in the history of the ancient church, have given to many, it may be seen by a slight recurrence to the nature and frame of the Divine Theory, that such distinct
relations do naturally and necessarily arise from an unfolding of the divine principle, such as we are led to contemplate in this matter of the covenant with Abraham; to which views of the subject we shall attend more particularly in the sequel.
This covenant, pursuant to which was circumcision, may be considered as a copartnership of Abraham and seed, as by seed principally intending Christ, set up, and to be kept up for ever, for the truth of God, i. e. for the discharge of the eternal engagement to God of the redemp tion-work, and for the reception of the promised reward. It was an establishment of the nature of a fellowship of Abraham and his seed, as forming one great body and society, in which the whole together became interested, both for debt and for credit, in the immense and infinitely glorious concern of the truth of God in Christ.
I am sensible that these views are widely dif ferent from those entertained by many of the nature of this covenant; and I am not unmindful that they who entertain different views will be likely to say that I assert things without proof, and may ask why I do not, as I pass along, prove my propositions? to which I would answer, that we have in view a Theory, the grounds of which have been attended to with carefulness; and that I am now attempting to arrange the leading events of Providence in their proper order, that it may be seen how perfectly they coincide with those distinct exhibitions which we have been led to look for from the nature of our principle; and when the works of God are thus arranged in the view of the Theory, and the different parts are found to be in agreement with the whole system, it is hoped that the agreement and harmony of the Theory with the principle, and of the exhibition with the Theory, will force convic
tion upon the mind of the justness of the conceptions formed of the various parts, as well as of the truth of the whole. The strongest impressions on the human mind of the certainty and glory of divine things, are those which are made by the discovery of the proportion, or analogy of faith.
The covenant made with Abraham being for substance the same with the everlasting covenant made with Christ, it was necessary that he should bear the sign and seal of it in his own person; and as the bond or service-work came first in view, and was the part of the covenant immediately to open in dispensation, it was requisite that the token of it, as now applied, should be particularly significant of this part of the divine will, and such was that of circumcision. Before this transaction Abraham and others saw the sign of the covenant attached to another subject, either respecting the whole creation, and so placed over the world generally, as in the bow in the cloud, or respecting individuals particularly, by a sacrifice from their hands, as in the bleeding lamb; but now the covenant must be brought home to himself, and sealed in his own person.....he himself must bleed.
The token of the redemption-covenant being borne in Abraham's own person, even as it related to the death of Christ, is such undeniable proof of the fact here stated of his standing with Christ in relation to both parts of the divine will, that the ignorance of it which prevailed, anciently, over so many of the Jews, and of late over such multitudes of professed Christians, might be dwelt upon as wonderful, did not instances of the same blindness so frequently oc
By this most solemn transaction Abraham and his circumcised seed became debtors to do the whole law; they were obligated to whatever God C
required in that covenant, which is our great first principle; they were laid under the bond given for the discharge of the whole work stated in the argument before us, which was a volume of infinite magnitude; and they pledged their blood, i. e. their life, or soul, for its perfect performance; in a word, they came fully into the engagement for the performance of the whole work contracted in eternity by the Lord, the Redeemer!--But Abraham, and other meremen, did not thus engage alone; this they could not understandingly have done with truth; for the work was infinitely above the power of mere men to perform......no, the covenant was expressly made, and was ever to be maintained jointly with Abraham and his seed in their generations; which seed was understood to comprise principally the Lord Christ, the Great Sponsor and Surety of the Covenant.
In this peculiar standing, Abraham was called the Friend of God; and being the first man that stood in this immediate relation to Christ on sanctuary ground, and standing there as a parent in authority at the head of the whole society so formed, he is the father of all them that believe; and as the covenant, with all its interests, pertained to him and his seed, and by him is handed down to the latest generation, all the families of the earth, who are blessed thereby, are blessed in him, and doing his works will call him their father.....Also on account of this standing in the sanctuary, a people having this relation to Abraham, are observed to bear those names of peculiarity which distinguish this sacred enclosure; they are called Elect, Anointed, Holiness, or the People of His Holiness, First Born, &c.....And because Abraham and his seed were thus introduced into this first mansion of the House of God, and were even employed in the most arduous.
and solemn work of its consecration, in the distribution of the family, the Jew has been, and ever will be, placed first, and all besides, who shall enjoy the privileges and blessings of this great house, according to the explicit covenant of God with Abraham and his seed, must receive all through them, and be their debtors; and they must feel themselves under everlasting obligation to honor them in the glorious family, as being their fathers and elder brethren..... Hence the Scriptures abound with such expressions as Abraham's bosom, birth-right, children of the kingdom, salvation is of the Jews, &c.....The words of Christ to the woman of Canaan related evidently to the same truth.....It is not meet to take the childrens' bread, and to cast it to dogs.....And she said, Truth, Lord, yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their master's table.....And also, to this holy and rich establishment the Apostle refers, Rom. xi. under the name of the Good Olive Tree.
The whole divine exhibition, as has been observed, being framed upon one unbroken plan, the opening of a new scene does not close the foregoing; but the work is still progressing from glory to glory. Thus, this new economy did not exclude the primitive ordinances of grace, they were still continued; and as they were founded upon the law of redemption, and were all calcu lated to exhibit the truth of Christ, their use and importance in this state was felt more sensibly than ever. Circumcision operated upon minds enlightened into the meaning of it, as the most powerful motive to embrace every ray of the light of Christ; for thereby the subjects were Jaid under the ministration of death, and were made to feel its sentence and pressing exactions in their own persons; from the terror and pain of which, the hope of Christ could afford them