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Egypt, which covenant was confined to a particular people; but such as should comprehend all nations, when the spirit of the divine law should be written in the hearts of men, and all should know the Lord from the least to the greatest. But the old and the new were both contained in the covenant God made with Abraham in the times before the law. In regard to his natural posterity it was said, unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates: this is a temporal promise: but to the same Abraham it was said, in thy seed shall all the -nations of the earth be blessed: this is a spiritual promise, and is the same in all respects with the christian covenant.
5. With regard to temporal things, the servants of God in all ages were instructed to look upon> the world, and they actually did look upon it, as we do (or should do) now. Upon a principle of faith in God's promise, they who were called out of Egypt under Moses, set out upon a progress toward a land which they had never seen, and knew only by report; with many difficulties and terrors to encounter by the way; so that the history of their journey is an instructive picture of all the trials and dangers of the christian life: and when they were settled tied in the land of promise, their business was not to give themselves up to the enjoyment of the world, but to serve God in holiness and righteousness, and still tq depend upon him for their support and defence against, their enemies. The greatest favourites of heaven, who had the best title to inherit the earth, considered this life only as a pilgrimage toward a better. Abraham sojourned in the land of promise as in a strange country, where he was not at home, and dwelt in tabernacles, to signify that he had no fixed habitation upon earth, but looked for a city which had foundations, whose builder and maker is God. Jacob underwent a series of disappointments and sorrows; and toward the close of his life confessed that his days had been few and evil. * Moses preferred the reproach of Christ to the treasures of Egypt: and the saints and prophets, who came after him, were ready on all occasions to renounce the world in the spirit of martyrdom; they suffered all the contempt and persecution the world could inflict upon them for the trial of their faith, and ran with patience the race that was set before them, chusing death itself through the hope of a better resurrection: whence the saints of the law are
celebrated and set forth as examples of faith and patience to the saints of the gospel. How unaccountable therefore has been the error of some modern divines, such as these days of refinement have produced, who have contended that the law gave no notice of a future life, and that the Jews were taught to look for nothing under it but temporal rewards: a doctrine so false in itself, so injurious to the word of God, and so contrary to the preaching of Christ and his apostles, that it is condemned in the articles of the church of England; the seventh of which affirms, as it ought to do, and as we have sufficiently proved already, that "The Old Testament is not contrary to the New; for both in the Old and New Testament, everlasting life is offered to mankind by Christ, who is the only mediator between God and man, being both God and man. Wherefore they are not to be heard, which feign, that the old fathers did look only for transitory promises." To shew that they had a better hope, and that their faith was the same as ours, though their worship was of a different form, is the whole design of the Epistle to the Hebrews, where the Christian doctrines are all deduced from the Old Testament. Our Saviour, in his argument against the Sadduces,
Math. xxii. 31, shews how the doctrine of a resurrection was taught in that declaration of God - to Moses, " / am the God of Abraham, &c." and the argument extends to the whole Old Testament: for if God, as the God of Abraham, was the God of the living, and Abraham still lives expecting the resurrection of the just; then the like declaration, wherever it occurs, must yield the same doctrine; for that God should be the God of the dead, is no more consistent with his honour in one part ef the scripture than in another. The covenant of God is a covenant of life; and the argument is of equal force whether the relation is applied to those who are in the world or to those who are out of it. This life, considered in itself, is no better than death; [vestra hcec, qua didtur vita, mors est;) so that if God, when he called himself the God of the Hebrews, was the God of those who had hope only in this life (as a modern divine asserted for a project) than he was the God of the dead; and so the name God of the Hebrews would have been a dishonourable title, of which, as the apostle observes, Heb. xi. 16, God would have been ashamed, as a title no better than that of a mortal king, whose power and promises extend to this life only.
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6. All this is further evident, in that the law promised a Rest or Sabbath which it never gave; and therefore, the promise looked forward to that other glorious Sabbath which is to be fulfilled in another life. The apostle, in explaining the scripture on this subject, shews us how the fulfilling of this promise was suspended. That the faithful had a Sabbath of Rest in prospect after the course of their labours, appears from that threatening sentence in the law, which denied it to those who did not believe. For, saith the apostle, we which have believed do enter into Rest, as he said, as I have sworn in my wrash if they shall enter into my Rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world “. Now the question is, what the Rest here spoken of can mean? It cannot mean that Rest which immediately followed the six days of the creation, when God did rest on the seventh day from all his works ; for that Rest of God had been past and gone from the foundation of the world, when the works of God were finished. We must therefore look for another: and in this inquiry, it may occur, that the Rest to be exspected was in the land of Canaan; because those who were precluded from it fell in the
wilderness; • * Chap. iv. 3.