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intervention ; and grew out of that one eternal covenant, which all that is done for the salvation of the Church, in this world, does but execute. The priesthood, sacrifices, and ablutions, which this covenant ordained, were all typical of Christ, or referred to him. Hence, we are told, Hebrews iv. 2, that the Gospel was preached unto them, as well as unto us. And hence, Moses, with evident design to preclude the idea, that the blessing was to be expected upon a mere legal principle, expressly told the people, Deuteronomy ix. 4: “Speak not in thine heart, after that the Lord thy God hath cast them out before thee, saying, For my righteousness, the Lord hath brought me to possess this land ; but for the wickedness of these nations, doth the Lord drive them out from before thee. Not for, thy righteousness, or for the uprightness of thine heart, dost thou go to possess this land ; but for the wicked. ness of these nations, doth the Lord thy God drive them out from before thee ; and that he may perform the word, which he sware unto thy fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” The blessing proposed in the Sinai covenant, if conferred at all, was to be conferred entirely by grace, and in fulfilment of the Abrahamic covenant. The Şinai covenant, therefore, was very far from being the original covenant of works. The cov. enant of works was wholly done away by the apostacy: of the progenitors of our race. It could never be overtured afterwards, as a foundation of hope, among any of their guilty descendants ; no, not upon the suppo. sition of their repentance. The covenant of works supposes those to whom it is proposed, to be innocent. The covenant of Sinai supposes that the objects of it are guilty. The covenant of works makes no provi. sion for pardon. The covenant of Sinai does. The covenant of works makes sinless obedience the condi: tion of the blessing. The covenant of Sinai made provision for the forgiveness of sins, not yet committed; therefore the blessings of it were suspended upon obedience short of that which is absolutely sinless. Those who failed of entering the promised land, did not .
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fail because they had not strictly obeyed the covenant of works ; but because of unbelief, And those who en. tered, entered not on the ground, that they had been perfectly obedient to the covenant of works, but because they were subjects of faith, as a character. Faith, in the Gospel sense, had nothing to do with the obedience which belonged to the covenant of works : But faith is the principle of that obedience which is required in the Sinai covenant. Compare Deuteronomy xxx. 11, 12, 13, 14, with Romans x. 6, and on. The difficulty with the law, was, that it did not secure this obedience. Faith in Christ does. Faith is always of a truly obedient nature. Moses is expressly mentioned by the writer to the Hebrews, as an eminent subject of faith ; and his faith certainly involved obedience to the Sinai law. If he had not been obedient to that law, he would have been an object of the curse. Faith is mentioned by our Savior himself as among the weightier matters of the law ; Matthew xxiii. 23. " Wo unto you Scribes, and Pharisees, hypocrites ; for ye pay tithe of mint, and anise, and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy and faith.” The Sinai covenant then was very far from being a covenant of works, or a covenant with which faith, in the evangelical sense of that term, was not concerned.
It is indeed infinitely derogatory to the supreme Ruler of the universe, to insinuate, that he addressed a covenant to his people, which made perfect personal obedience, the meritorious ground of hópe, and that ex. clusively ; when their known disobedience had exclud. ed the possibility of such a hope. This would have had a direct tendency to lead them into the most fatal delusion. I
Nor was the Sinai covenant a civil compact ; making God and the people, parties; He as their political sove ereign, and they as his subjects. It had not in it a ves. tige of any thing of this kind. It was simply a religious institution, and designed for no purposes but such as were purely religious.
Here we advance a negative against laboured theo. * ries, and high authorities; even among those, who are
not driven to any exigence, for the support of a sectari. an hypothesis. It is therefore necessary, before we close our examination of the Sinai covenant, to look into this matter with particular attention. · Modesty, it is presumed, does not forbid it..
By civil, in this connexion, is to be understood, , that which merely appertains to objects of our présent • temporal life; and which has no foundation in religion,
or respect to it. The term civil has a Latin derivation. Civis, denoted a subject of the Roman government. Civilis, qualified persons, actions, or things, which respected that government merely. But no one will pretend, that the Roman government was founded upon, or acted in aid to religion. A temporal sovereign, as such, is designated for purposes merely temporal. Temporal governments, instead of being promotive of religion, have almost universally been the scourges of it. No doubt a civil magistrate may be a religious man, and perform the duties of his office religiously. And civil government may be subservi. ent to religion; as we know all. opposition to God indirectly is. But a mere civil interest, is very far in.' deed, from being a religious interest. Generally, if not universally, they are opposing interests. Suppose the whole world to this moment had been as perfectly subject to God's government, as the holy angels are; and suppose, that 500 persons were to go off, and form to themselves a government of another kind, which should have no respect to the government under which they had hitherto lived ; and in which, God, and his au. thority, should be disowned. Would not this government be founded in apostacy and atheism ? Allow that these persons live, under this new government, in tol. erable order, without however the least affectionate ać knowledgement of God, Would they not still live in complete practical atheism? “Render,” said our Sa. viour “unto Cæsar, the things which are Cæsar's ; and unto God, the things which are God's." Their pre. tentions are entirely distinct.
That several institutions of the Sinai covenant had respect to actions, and things, which ordinarily come under the description of civil, such as judgment upon trespass, the partition of property, the fulfilmentofcon. tracts, &c. is not to be disputed. But it will not follow, that these were civil institutions, in a sense distinct from religious. Nor is there any propriety in apply. ing the term civil to them. This is not a term which the scripture has appropriated, as descriptive of any of its institutions or duties. We may as well say, that Arbitrators and Deacons, of the primitive Christian Church, were civil officers, as to say, that the judges in Israel were such. We may as well say, that the charitable provision, which was made by the Christian Church, for its poor, or its ministers, was a civil establishment; as to say, that the payment of tythes, and the offerings of the tabernacle, were a tax upon the subject, to support the authority of God, as a temporal sovereign. ,
If an economy, which, in a subordinate view, partly respects secular objects, be on that account civil; the Christian Church is certainly a civil insitution. If, for this reason, the Hebrew Community was a The ocracy; the Christian Church is undoubtedly a Theocracy. Were this all that is intended by representing the Sinaj covenant, as in whole, or in part, a civil institution, there would be no dispute; for every man must be left at liberty to use his own words. The business of the Author, in this case, would be merely with the critic. But the use of terms and the representations given, in those treatises, to which we have respect, are such,as to make the Sinai Covenant, in whole, or in part, a mere civil institution, in a sense opposite to religion. Obedience was required, say these treatises and accepted, which had notits foundation in real piety..
The Hebrew Community (say they) was a Common. wealth. God placed himself at the head of it, as its king.
The priesthood formed his court. The tabernacle was his palace. The tithes, offerings, and expiations, were his revenue. He made war and peace, like other mon
archs of the earth. And he subjected the disi to corporal punishments, and temporal death, exactly in a manner, and on principles, resembling the penal codes, of civil governments generally. Thus the late Dr. John Erskine, in his Dissertation, upon the Nature of the Sinai Covenant, tells us, Theolog: Dissertations, page 1. .6 To Israel pertained the covenants, not the covenant of grace only, but another covenant, expressly distinguished from it (he means the Sinai Covenant) in virtue of which, many, destitute of inward piety, and no way interested in the covenant of grace, yet had a just title to another kind of covenant blessings." By this covenant, he says, page 3, “God, as monarch of
the Jewish Nation, promised them a long, and prosper| ous possession of Canaan, on condition of their exter
nal obedience, to a variety of laws, precepts, and judgments.” He says, same page, “ Obedience to these laws was never designed to entitle to heavenly and spiritual blessings.” In page 4, he says, “It is however necessary to observe, that God entered into that covenant, under the character of king of Israel. He is termed so in scripture ; and he acted as such, disposed of offices, made war and peace, exacted tribute, enacted laws, punished with death, such of that people as refused him allegiance, and defended his subjects from their enemies." Page 5.“There in the Sinai covenant) he appeared chiefly as a temporal Prince, and therefore, gave laws,intended rather to direct the outward conduct, than to regulate the heart.” Hence he is constrained to say, page 6. “ The fidelity and allegiance of the the Jews was secured, not by bestowing the influences of the Holy Spirit, necessary to produce faith and love; but barely by external displays of majesty, and great. ness, calculated to promote a slavish subjection, rather than a cheerful filial obedience.” This theory leads him to the following mean idea of the Israelites, even when obedient to the Sinai law. "A fit emblem of the Sinai covenant, in which the Jews were hired, by the prosperous possession of the land of Canaan, to per. form a variety of slavish, burdensome services; if they
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