« PreviousContinue »
ham, or different from it. This will have our attention in its place. It is to be remarked here,
3. The basis, the radical principle of the Sinai covenant was, law; first, the decalogue, or ten commandments, as a compendious system of duty; and then, what is commonly called the ritual law, embracing all the precepts which were received from God by Moses, and delivered to the people, respecting their interior economy, their sacrifical worship, their offerings, oblations, tithes, priesthood, tabernacle, &c. These precepts were as obligatory, as those of the decalogue; and with them went to constitute the law. That the law is the basis of the Sinai covenant, is evident, from a bare inspection of it; from the attestation of John, that the law came by Moses; and from the express manner in which the law is so often called the cove. nant. Passages to this purpose have already been referred to.
In this point, the Sinai covenant differs essentially from the new covenant. Both have respect to law. But the former is the law promulged only; the latter is the law, not promulged, or attended with denunciations of death; but the matter of a most gracious ef ficient promise, and written upon the heart.
4. To this law, was united, as an appendage of the covenant, the curse. Deuteronomy xxvii. 26. "Cursed be he who confirmeth not all the words of this law, to do them, and all the people shall say Amen." Ib. xxviii. 15, 16. "But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the Lord, thy God, to observe to do all his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee. Cursed shall thou be in the city, &c." Ib. xi. 2, 6. "Behold I set before you this day a blessing and a curse." This curse is called death; and by this is intended something altogether beyond the calamities which are felt in this world, or the dissolution of the body. For these were no less the experience of the obedient than the disobedient. It can be no other than that ultimate punishment, which, according to the de
nunciations of the Bible throughout, is to overwhelmi the impenitent. Hence it is, that the apostle tells us that the law worketh wrath; and assures us, that this wrath is a matter of future suffering, and the final portion of the impenitent. Romans ii. 5. "But after thy hardness, and impenitent heart, treasurest up unto thyself wrath, against the day of wrath; and revelation of the righteous judgment of God." But,
5. We are not to imagine that the law, with its curse, exclusively constituted the Sinai covenant. consisted in part of promises. Or, if this be not exactly correct, it is correct to say, that promises were appended to it. Language of the nature of promise was wrought even into the decalogue. " And shew. ing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments--that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee."
The writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews, in the 8th chapter, 6th verse, says of Christ. "But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much al. so he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises." This assertion, that the promises of the new covenant are better than those of the old, most evidently implies, that there were promises upon which the old was established. It is implied indeed, that the covenant and the promises are distinguishable, as the foundation is distinguishable from the superstructure. But promises are inseparably connected with the one, no less than with the other. Accordingly, if we look into the Sinai covenant, we shall find, that there were in fact, several promises attached to it. Thus, in the beginning of the 19th chapter of Exodus, where the Sinai covenant is introduced, we observe it written, "And Moses went up unto God: And the Lord called unto him out of the mountain, saying; thus shalt thou say unto the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel. Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on Eagles wings, and brought you even unto myself.Now, therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and
keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me, above all people, for all the earth is mine. And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, an holy nation." To this proposal the people agreed. Then follows the promulgation of the law, which, according to engagement, they were to keep. This runs through the 19, 20, 21, 22 and 23 chapters. To the law, thus far communicated, the people consent. Chapter xxiv. 3 verse." And Moses came, and told the people all the words of the Lord, and all the judgments; and all the people answered, with one voice, and said, All the words which the Lord hath said will we do."These words are called, verse 7, the book of the covenant. This covenant was then sealed by Moses with blood verse 8. "And Moses took the blood and sprinkled it on the people, and said, Behold the blood of the covenant which the Lord hath made with you concerning all these words." Then follow, through the 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30 and 31 chapters, directions for building the tabernacle, and preparing its furniture, respecting the officiating priesthood, their apparel, services, the offerings, &c. The promulgation of the law is then interrupted, and the covenant violated by the idolatry at the foot of the mountain. At the inter. cession of Moses, this breach of the covenant is so far pardoned, that in chapter xxxiv the promulgation of the law is resumed. The residue of this book is taken up in detailing how Moses and the people executed the directions they had received from God, respecting the tabernacle.
The promulgation of the law is resumed, and continued through the twentyfive first chapters of LevitiThen a promise is introduced; chapter xxvi. verse 3, and onward. "If ye will walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments and do them, I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit. And your threshing shall reach unto the vintage, and the vintage shall reach unto the sowing time; and ye shall eat your bread to the full, and dwell in your land
safely for I will have respect unto you, and make you fruitful, and multiply you, and establish my cove, nant with you, and ye shall eat old store, and bring forth the old, because of the new. And I will set my tabernacle among you, and my soul shall not abhor you. And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be my people,
The giving of the law proceeds again through the last chapter of this book, and though several chapters of the book of Numbers. The most material articles of it are recapitulated by Moses through the book of Deuteronomy. Here also we find promises repeatedly inserted. See Chap. vii. 12-26. "Wherefore it. shall come to pass, if ye hearken to these judgments, and keep and do them, that the Lord thy God shall keep unto thee the covenant, and the mercy, which he sware unto thy fathers: And he will love thee, and bless thee, and multiply thee: He will also bless the fruit of thy womb, and the fruit of thy land, thy corn, and thy wine, and thine oil, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep, in the land which he sware unto thy fathers to give thee. Thou shalt be blessed above all people &c." See also chap. xi. 13, and on. "And it shall come to pass, if ye shall hearken diligently unto my commandments which I command you this day, to love the Lord your God, and to serve him with all your heart, and with all your soul; that I will give you the rain of your land, &c." Another series of promises is found in the 15th chap. beginning at the 4th.verse. "For the Lord shall greatly bless thee in the land, which the Lord thy God giveth thee, for an inheritance to posses it: Only if thou carefully hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe to do all these commandments which I command thee this day: For the Lord thy God blesseth thee, as he hath promised thee; and thou shalt lend unto many Nations, and shalt not borrow; and thou shalt reign over many nations, and they shall not reign over thee." The last series of promises is found in the 14 first verses of the 28th chapter, "And it shall
come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that the Lord thy God will set thee on high, above all nations of the earth: And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God. Blessed shalt thou be in the city, and blessed shalt thou be in the field: Blessed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy ground, and the fruit of thy cattle, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep. Blessed shall be thy basket and thy store. Blessed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and blessed shalt thou be when thou goest out.-The Lord shall command the blessing upon thee, in thy storehouses, and in all that thou settest thine hand unto; and he shall bless thee in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee. The Lord shall establish thee an holy people unto himself, as he hath sworn unto thee, if thou shalt keep the commandments of the Lord thy God to walk in his ways. &c."
Thus we find, in fact, promises appended to the Sinai covenant.
We are next to enquire into the nature of these promises. The writer of the Epistle to the Heb. in á passage which has been quoted, distinguishes between the promises of this covenant, and those of the new covenant, as of a different character. Chapter viii. 6. "But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises. Not only is the covenant better; but the promises are better. It is altogether a better covenant. The law written upon the heart, and precluding finally the curse, is better than the law promulgated only, and bringing along with it the curse. The promises are better. Wherein are the promises of the one covenant better than those of the other? About this there has been much controversy. Let us see if the scriptures will not guide us to a decisive answer.