Page images
PDF
EPUB

oath, we may venture to conclude, from the joint testimony of those two ministers of the two covenants, that the oath preceded the promise, unless a reference was intended to be made to previous repetitions of the same promise, which seems to be not very likely. And if no such reference was intended to be made, as the oath would bave been of no more signification without the promise, than any adnoun without some noun, we seem to have very little reason to imagine, that a distinction between the oath and the promise was intended either by Muses, or by the writer of this epistle; but, on the contrary, some reason to surmise that they both considered the oath as deriving significancy from the promise, agreeably to the preliminary intimation of the writer of this epistle, wbich has been just before noticed, viz. “ For when God made promise to Abraham,” by which, it was then suggested, he seems to have apprized his reader that he considered the promise, and not the oath, as the. princ pal subject of which he was going to treat.

Ko stw, &c. Tayyentas. “And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise.” Of what nature was this patient enduring, and of what continuance? and what promise did he obtain after he had patiently endured? Whatever the nature of his patient enduring may have been, if he patiently endured at all, we shall find by attending to the strict meaning of the word Picençoouueneas, that we have reason to think that he endured patiently a long while. Which, if true, seems not to be very consistent with what we read of hin in Gen. xxiv. 1. “and Abraham was old, and well stricken in years:

and the Lord had blessed Abruhum in all things.” Had, however, this not been said, it would not hare been easy to reconcile his patiently enduring with his having actually obtained the possession of those two temporal blessings which had been proinised him, viz. a son in his old age, and, the land of Canaan. That he was put into possession of the promised land, we are informed by the writer of this same epistle, chap. xi. 9. where he says, “ By faith he sojourned in the land of promise as in a strange country;” and that this was something more than an imaginary residence in that country, may be inferred from what follows-dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise.” That the promise of the land of Canaan was not any part of the promise alluded to by the words under consi

3 H.

deration,

deration, may be proved by satisfactory arguments; for, after having informed us that Abraham did really inberit the land of promise, the writer of this epistle says-“ These all died in faith, not having received the promises (during their abode here after all) but having seen them afar oil, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on carth. For they that say such things declare that they seek a country;" which Abraham himself, it seems, also did; for he “sojourned even in the land of promise as in a strange country; and, all the while he was there, looked for a city which hath foundations, whose maker and builder is God,” without being at all inclined to return to his native land, which, the writer of this epistle observes, he or any of the heirs had it in their power to do. Of course, the promise of an earthly inheritance is not a part of the promise which Abraham is here said to have obtained, after having patiently endured.

Bui did Abraham live long enough to see the promise on the mount also realized in its universal sense? If he did not, how can he be said to have obtained the promise literally? If he did, in what sense was he so blessed? That he did not actually obtain the promise as long as he lived here, we are expressly assured in the sequel of this same epistle, where it is said, “ These all (and' Abraham, surely, as well as the rest) died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them and embraced them;" That is, by anticipating ihem. And if we attend to the strict meaning of the word parçoburnous, we shall find that we have no little reason to conclude that it means pretty nearly the same thing as “ seeing them afar off," in the quotation just before made from the si. chap. The component parts of this word evidently suggest the exercise of some long-sighted faculty; but neither of the parts appears to intimate any thing like suffering or enduring at any time, whether patiently or not; nor does the state of the verb necessarily imply the terminalion of a pe. riod. How is it, then, that this word happened to be here translated " after he had patiently endured ?” Be that as it may, two instances may be produced, and from the New Testament only, to prove that it has not always that meaning; of which the first occurs xviii. Matth. 26, where the debtor is made to say to the ob

durate

durate creditor, μακροθυμησον επ' εμοι και παντα σου αποδωσω. Here we find it means, “wait patiently,” “ forbear to enforce payment for a while, under an expectation of receiving all some time or other.” Had, however, the creditor himself found it necessary to submit to this disposition of mind, in expectation of the fulfilment of a gratuitous promise by some superior, the nature of his feelings would, perhaps, have been of a different sort. in that case, his uneasiness, if it should be so called, would have arisen only from anticipation ; but even this acceptation, if the Patriarch's patient waiting be supposed to have been rewarded with complete fruition in this life (which our translation seems to imply, by intimating that he did not obtain the promise till after he had patiently endured), is hardly satisfactory here. The other is much more to the purpose; it occurs 2 Pet. iii. 9. * Baaduves In stayynics, says Peter of the Everlasting Father himself anda uaxgobyer. By this we find, that the maker of the promise is represented by Peter as still exercising the same disposition of mind, many ages after, in order to accomplish his promise, as Abraham is said, by the writer of the Episile to the Hebrews, to have found it necessary to habituate himself in, before he could obtain it. This acceptation of the word, as it regards the same object, seeins to be suficiently decisive. And to this same conclusion we shall arrive, if we reconsider the arguments above adduced to prove, that the promise here alluded to, was no other than the promise on mount Moriah, and recollect, that our own Apostle had expressly assured us, that the subject of that promise, viz. the seed of Abraham, in whom the nations of the erth were to be blessed, was not to be understood of all the seed, or the seed in general, but only of one in pariicular, viz. Christ; and, again, recollect that Christ himself told his countrymen at Jerusalem, that Abrazam rejoiced to see his day, and did indeed, in a certain sense, see it and was glad : and without at all intimating his having previously patientiy endured. As, iher, the case seems to be so very plain, why should we give ourselves any further trouble to inquire concerning the true sense in which Abrahain is said to have obtained the promise? Why should we not take the liberty to interp:et this verse thus

na1 87w, and, upon the strength of this assurance only (the reason for inserting only will appear as we go on) hangabupnoos, looking a long way forward into

funurity

futurity to see the completion of the promise, as God. also does; or, in other words, “ seeing the promises afar off.” --Επετυχε της επαγγελιας he enjoyed as long as he lived here, the pleasing prospect which the promise had presented to him, in addition to his other temporal enjoyments; that is, myanasao ato xao exepm, from the time when the promise was made, without any previous patient enduring Kau vtW (and in no other sense surely) Αβρααμ, while he continued on earth, επετυχε το επαγγελιας mnde on mount Moriah. The other two promises l'elating to this life, we find, he actually enjoyed, “ having been blessed in all things.”

Εν & περισσοτερον βελομεν@- ο Θεος επιδειξαι τους κληρονομος της επαγγελιας το αμεταθετος της βαλης αυτο. “ Wherein God, wille ing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of bis counsel, confirmed it by an oath.” Notwithstanding God sent an angel to Abraham on Moriah, purposely to prevent the immolation of his son, to make a declaration of the promise, and to attest its having been confirmed by an oath ; notwithstanding the Almighty so far fulfilled that promise, that Abraham is said to have obtained it after he had patiently endured; we stem to be given to understand by this, that God did not, after all, do so much for Abraham as he was inclined to do for the heirs of promise, he being here said to have been “ willing more abundantly' to shew unto the beirs of promise (than to Abraham, if any body at all, we may, of course surmise) the immutability of his counsel.” Aud did he really do so? Most assuredly. And what, of his more abundant willingness, did he do for the heirs of promise, by way of showing the immutability of his counsel, than for Abraham? As Abraham is said to have obtained the promise after he had patiently endured, what further prouf of the immutability of the counsel of the Almighty could the heirs obtain than Abraham had before obtained? Confirmed it by an oath. It? What; the immutability of his counsel? As his counsel is ever immutable, that, surely, could not want confirmation at any time. But if the heirs of promise were not so far certified of this as they should be, he, no doubt could shew them, more abundantly than he had even shewed to Abrahan, the immutability of bis counsel. Did he then do so ? If he did, how did he contrive to do it? Was it by another oath? or, did God appear personally and swear, instead of sending his angel to attest his oath, as he did to Abraham on the

mount?

son on

mount? If not, what more abundant proof of the inmutability of his counsel could the oath, as attested by the angel on Moriah, be to the heirs of promise (who have been brought acquainted with it only by tradition), than to Abraham himself, who obtained the assurance of it by the intervention of an angel ? Had the same angel, who at first attested the oath to Abraham and the mount, been sent to any of the heirs, he, doubtless, could have afforded them å still more abundant proof, not only by such a second appearance, but by a commoration with them, and also by some other more extraordinary means. And may there not have been an allusion

to such a way of attesting the immutability of the counsel of the adorable Jehovah here? Let us attend to this verse a little more carefully, to see if things are stated as they should be.

Ey , “Wherein," says our translation, and where are we to look for the antecedent to which this refers us? It may surely be understood as referring us to the exemplification of the utilicy of an oath by its usual effect among men in the common concerns of life, which we find in the verse immediately preceding; or, to the transaction on Moriah ; or, even to both. But, in either case, it seems to be only an ill-contrived link to couple together two assemblages of ideas, which, in spite of its conjunctive efforts, will never form a rational consistence. What if we say " in whom," considering it as spoken of Abraham in the same sense as when the Father of the faithful was first assured of a blessed posterity, it was said to him “in thee” xas in thy seed ? Tw de Aßpacepe were the promises made xeo to his seed. He såith not xar to seeds, as of many; but as of one, xas to thy seed, which our own Apostle assures us is Christ.

TlEpsocotepor. Whether this be understood to imply that God was still more willing to do something for the heirs of promise than he had thought fit to do for Abraham ; or, that he was willing to do something “ more abundantiy” for them, it matters but little. But though this seems to be of so little consequence, yet it is, doubtless, of the utmost importance to the heirs of promise, to be assured of what that “more abundant” something, which God either will’d or did, was,

Abraham, it is said, received the promise, and as confirmed by an oath; and, it may be added, in a manner which must have made a much deeper impression on his

mind

« PreviousContinue »