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GENESIS xxvi. 5.
Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my
commandments, my statutes, and my laws.
T the head of what is commonly called the
Patriarchal Dispensation, and descended from the family of Him, on whom the promised blessing was entailed, by his Father's prophecy, stands this revered founder of the Jewish nation—the pattern of obedience, which is by faith, the instrument of mercy, the instructor of ages, the friend of God. The incidents of such a life, as might be expected, exhibit various and visible interpositions of divine Providence; while every expression of favour, and every communication of grace, confirming past promises, afford a clear intimation of the counsel of God, a stronger pledge of the immutability of his holy purpose, towards all the families of the earth, thro' the mediation of an heavenly Redeemer.
In the memorials of this illustrious character, we not only find the promise made to Adani, the declaration continued to Noah, ratified by an everlasting covenant, but temporal blessings held out to the Patriarch's posterity, with the assurance of everlasting possession; terms, therefore, which never could apply to a finite accomplishment, terms which never could be fulfilled in an earthly Canaan, must be allowed to disclose some farther design, and to point to some future inheritance. And the blessing pronounced, that in his seed all the nations of the earth should be blessed, and which still awaits completion in an heavenly city, through Him who is to bring the glory and honour of the nations into it was a more distinct revelation of that merciful love, which, fore-ordained in the heavenly council for man's salvation, was to be exemplified in the person of Him, whom in our former discourse we brought before you, as the same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever.
To the heavenly attestation of our text, Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws; we may add a similar, though subsequent, testimony and explanation, of what that charge, and what those commandments, were. With the view of enforcing conviction on the unbelieving Jews, or of reprobating their departure from the faith of their ancestors, our Saviour says to them, your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day, and he saw it, and was glad; thus pronouncing Himself to have been the object of hope and dependence to their venerable progenitor, and claiming from his posterity (as being heirs of the promise) an acquiescence in the same belief; appealing to a prior testimony, and to the faithfulness of God's word, in favour of their expected Messiah, and then assuming into such expectation all the properties of inherent divinity; and finally, that nothing might be left to doubt, or subject to misconstruction, with an assertion they could not, and which they did not, mistake, as Lord of the universe, as guardian God of the Jews, He marks Himself with the signature of
uncreated and continued existence, and tells them, before Abraham was, I am.
İndependent, however, of every extraneous illustration, we might fairly argue the point, on its own internal evidence. Abraham's justification unto holiness is expressly referred to his obedience (through faith) to the commandments, to the statutes, and to the laws of his GOD. Had these particulars been recorded of any one, under either of the succeeding dispensations, would they not have been received, as comprehending the whole of religion? If by the commandments of God we are taught to understand his moral precepts, by his statutes, he institutions and ordinances of his worship; and by the laws, his judiciary directions and appointments; the received and usual mode of interpretation must be abandoned, or the substance of the Patriarch's faith will exemplify a religion, complete in all its parts.
Again :-If God lay claim to the several parts of it, by stiling them, as we have heard, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws, both the injunctions, the promises, and the doctrines of revelation, must have ceased with Abraham; or the nations of the earth, which were to be blessed through him, must have acknowledged their divine origin, and regarded them as marks of direction to a Redeemer's advent, and to a brighter and more perfect dispensation.
But from arguments, which some might think defective, and from applications, which, thus generally taken, others might deem irreconcileable with the nature of the evidence, let us turn to those scriptures, to which our Saviour himself appeals, as testifying of Him; let us follow the voice, that appalled and consoled our first parents in the garden of Eden, to its more dreadful and terrific sound on Mount Sinai, when each preceding covenant was attested and renewed, under more strict observances, and with severer discipline.
Upon this hallowed ground, the first on which our Redeemer stood, it is painful to see so many of those, who call themselves christians, refuse to tread. That the infidel, who disdains to contemplate the completed work of redemption, should be tempted to examine any part of its divine materials; or that the natural man, who confides in his own strength, should be made