« PreviousContinue »
benevolence, fully to illustrate, could not have been manifested at all. And the same remark will apply to the Church at every subsequent period of time.We are not hastily to conclude, therefore, that because these offenders were suffered to continue a while in their visible relation to God, this relation was civil, and not entirely spiritual. Extirpation would indeed, have been as necessary upon one principle, as upon the other.
We have now followed the society of Israel to the foot of Sinai, and found it to be in fact exactly of that description which the covenant designed. Here a new subject of enquiry presents itself, to which we must attend, with the same careful and patient investigation, which was found necessary in ascertaining the nature of the covenant of circumcision.
Respecting the covenants of Sinai and Moab. In this chapter it is enquired, in what respects the covenants of Sinai and Moab, are distinguishable from the covenant of Circumcision, and the new covenant, predicted by Jeremiah and Ezekiel, and mentioned by the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews, as taking effect under the Gospel dispensation; whether the covenant of Sinai was the covenant of works; and whether it was designed to form the Hebrew community into a civil: or to continue them a religious society.
IT is undeniable that the covenant of Sinai, and that of Moab are the same. They were propounded to, and accepted by the same persons. For Moses, in the 5th chapter of Deuteronomy, where he is introducing the Moab covenant, says, that the covenant of Sinai was made with the very persons, to whom he was then speaking. "The Lord our God, made a covenant with us in Horeb.* The Lord made not this covenant with our Fathers, but with us who are here all of us alive this day. The Lord talked with you face to face, in the mount, out of the midst of the fire." The same law was wrought into them both, as may be seen by comparing the one with the other. They were proposed in the same terms, engage the same blessings to the obedient, and denounce the same curses on the disobedient.Some verbal variations are to be observed. Some historic details, there are in the one, which are not in the other. Some motives from experience are urged in the latter, which are not urged in the former. Still it is undeniable, that the covenant of Moab is but a renewal of the Sinai covenant.
*Horeb and Sinai were two elevations of ground, very near to each other, the latter higher than the former, both of them standing upon one mountain, as their common base. This is the reason that the names Horeb and Sinai, are used in the scripture promiscuously. The same mountain is intended. See Brown's Dictionary of the Bible, and Stackhouse's History.
Writers give very different représentations of the nature of this covenant. Overlooking all theories, let us search the scripture and see what the account is which they give of it. It is to be observed,
1. That, in the 2 and 3 verses of the 5th chapter of Deuteronomy, a passage just quoted, Moses expressly distinguishes this covenant, from the covenant which God established with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. "The Lord our God made a covenant with us in Horeb. The Lord made not this covenant with our Fathers." If God did not make this covenant with their fathers, certainly it is distinguishable from that which he did make with them.
This difference is also observed by the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews, viii. chapter, 8 and 9 ver"For, finding fault with them, he saith, Behold the days come saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah, not according to the covenant which I made with their fathers, in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt." He does not go back to the time when God established the cove nant of circumcision with Abraham. He goes to the exodus only; when the Sinai covenant was made.— If the Abrahamic and the Sinai covenants were the same, he could with no propriety have fixed upon this as the time when the covenant, to which the new covenant is contrasted, was made. For the origin of the covenant is evidently intended.
That these covenants are quite distinct from each other, is also evident from a passage in Deuteronomy, vii. 12. "Wherefore it shall come pass, that if ye hearken to these judgments, and keep and do them, that the Lord thy God shall keep unto thee the covenant and mercy which he sware unto thy fathers." The judgments here mentioned, with the promise in case of keeping them, constitute the covenant of Sinai. But this promise respects another covenant; the covenant sworn unto their fathers. The application and execution of this other covenant was engaged, as the re
ward, or the blessing, which should follow upon their ceping the Sinai covenant. Then certainly they are not the same. The difference between these two cov enants will appear clearly as we pursue our enquiries.
2. The covenant of Sinai is distinguishable from the new covenant, mentioned in the passage of the Epistle to the Hebrews, just quoted. The establishment of this new covenant was predicted both by Jeremiah, and -Ezekiel. Jeremiah xxxi. 31,-34. "Behold the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Ju. dah; not according to thecovenant which I made with their fathers, in the day when I took them by the hand, to bring them out of the land of Egypt, which my covenant they brake, though I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord. But this shall be the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel, after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts, and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, know the Lord; for all shall know me, from the least of them, unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity and I will remember their sin no more." See also, the 32d chapter, from the 36th verse and onward. Ezekiel predicts the making of this covenant, in the following terms. Ezekiel, xxxvii. 24, to the end. "And David, my servant, shall be king over them, and they shall all have one shepherd; they shall also walk in my judgments, and observe my statutes and do them. And they shall dwell in the land that I have given unto Jacob my servant, wherein your fathers have dwelt. And they shall dwell therein, even they and their children, and their children's children, forever; and, my servant David shall be their prince forever. Moreover, I will make a covenant of peace with them, it shall be an everlasting covenant with them; and I will place them, and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them forevermore. My tabernacle also shall be with them; yea, I will be
their God, and they shall be my people. And the the heathen shall know that I the Lord do sanctify Israel, when my sanctuary shall be in the midst of them forevermore." It is mentioned also by Zachariah, vii. 8. The passage above referred to in the 8th of Hebrews, is plainly a quotation from Jer: xxxi. 31.
The terms of these prophecies shew, that the covenants mentioned are materially different. The dissimilar characters given to them in these passages, and in other parts of scripture, prove them to be different. The one is old, (Tanaia) the other is new (naivy.) The one had already been established; the other was yet to be established. The one is not according to the other. The one was broken, "which my covenant they brake;" the other is not. The one left the subjects of it impenitent and disregarded, "for I regarded them not, saith the Lord," the other places the subjects of it, in the fullest sense, partakers in the divine blessing. The former, II Cor. iii. 6, is of the letter (ygaualoo); which killeth; the latter is of the spirit (TVEUμaloo) which giv eth life. The former is the ministration of death and condemnation; the latter, the ministration of the spirit and of righteousness: Ibid, 7, 8, 9 verses. The former is done away; the latter remaineth; Ibid. 10th verse. The old covenant did not take away sins; the new, does; Rom. xi. 26. 27. "And so all Israel shall be saved; as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob. This is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins." Moses was the mediator of the one; Jesus Christ is the mediator of the other. John i. 17. "The law was given by Moses; but' grace and truth came by Jesus Christ." The former was sealed by the blood of calves and of goats; Heb. ix. 19. The latter was sealed by the blood of Jesus Christ. Matth. 26. 28.
These differences are essential. They furnish the distinctive character of each; and will lead us to determine with certainty, whether this new covenant was the same with that which was established with Abra