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pressly excepted the multitudes who have now a vail upon their hearts. They are broken off, and not to be counted for the seed till they are grafted in again.-
Then, "all Israel," i.e. the true Israel, the seed “ shall , be saved.” The primitive law of the covenant, comprehensive of all other laws pertaining to visible subjection, in the execution of which divine exception was testified, is this, Genesis, xvii. 14, “And the uncir. cumcised manchild, whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people ; he hath broken my covenant.” The unpermitted neglect of circumcision, even though it was the parent's fault only, determined that the child should no longer be counted and treated as of the seed. The reason is obvious. The visibility of the infant, as one of the seed, stood, by divine appointment, in inseparable connexion with the visibility of the parent. If the parent refused to circumcise his child as God had appointed, he divested himself of the visibility of being one of his people. He wilfully trampled upon the covenant. He trampled upon God's authority, and thereby disowned him from being his God. Romans ii. 25.“For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law ;, but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circum: cision is made unsircumcision.” He excluded his child with himself. The parent and the infant offspring were constitutionally united ; because, the seed came on, from generation to generation, by natural descent. The infant child was to be counted for the seed till the neglect of circumcision ; not afterwards. He was visibly of the seed, and a subject of the covenant, by birth. Hence God says, Ezekiel xvi. 20. " More over thou hast taken thy sons and thy daughters, which thou hast born unto me, and these hast thou sacrificed unto them to be devoured. Is this of thy whoredoms a small matter, that thou hast slain my children ?»
It is not the least objection to this idea, that the infant was incapable of consenting to the covenant, and was wholly passive in circumcision. That the infant was wholly passive, in becoming a visible subject of the
covenant, is implied in this very passage in Ezekiel, It was born to God. Its initial covenant state was understood to take place passively. The infant was covenanted about. The whole seed was ; Christ himself was, as the great high priest, the representative of the seed, their elder brother. In this sense only the infant was a covenantee. And the real seed were covenantees in this sense, as covenanted about, interminably; as much after a personal consent, as before it; and as much before it, as after it. Consent did not interest in the covenant. It will be remembered the promise was absolutę. It was the promise only which interested. . The consent of the subject was but the execution of the promise. If consent were the thing which interested, then a personal profession would have been necessary to constitute a visible standing in the covenant. But as it was not, an infant might have as complete a visible standing in the covenant as the adult. * It is a mistake which has led to very erroneous conclusions, to suppose that visibility of covenant standing rests upon one uniform principle. It may have different grounds. It may take place by the appointment and testimony of God, as well as by personal consent. If God have put his hand upon an infant to bless it, and thereby have let us know that it is a subject of his kingdom, it must be daring impiety in us to deny its covenant standing.
Neither is it any objection, that the visible covenant standing of the infant must be different from that of the consenting adult, who gives evidence that he is really sanctified. For, though a consenting adult, like Stephen, full of the Holy Ghost, appears to me actually to possess, what I have not equal evidence that the
* If there be any difficulty in considering the infant seed as embraced in the covenant, or in covenant, it lies as much against the scheme of the 'antipædobaptists, as against that which considers the covenant of circumcision as wholly of a gracious nature. They allow that the land of Canaan was promised to the posrenity of Abraham as such. But it is of no consequence, as to the question of an infant's being a covenantee, what the covenant engages to perform, whether to bestow an earthly or an heavenly inheritance, whether it have respect to politic al or spiritual objects. The simple question is, whether an infant be capable of þeing made a subject of a promise : Or whether a promise may be made to a parent that he shall have a child who shall possess any kind of good ?
infant possesses, I have as real evidence that the infant is a subject of covenant promise, as I have that the adult is. In the case of the adult, the ground of the conclusion may be more extended, and the conclu. sion itself more certain ; just as the evidence respecting one adult visible believer, is far more convincing than that respecting another ; but, in the case of the infant, the evidence, or the ground of estimate is as real. In both cases the ground of evidence is the di. vine testimony ; i. e. God tells us by what marks we shall estimate a person to be one of his kingdom, or a subject of promise.
To return, the covenant must be kept. It must be kept by the careful observance of infant circumcision as the appointed token of it. To have substituted adult circumcision exclusively, in the room of infant eircumcision, or to have deferred circumcision till the child should come to years of discretion, in order that it might embrace or reject the covenant, and be circumcised or not, accordingly, would have been a departure, not only from the law, but from the design and spirit of the promise. Circumcision would then have lost its most important meaning, as a token. It would have implicitly turned the promise into a conditional thing, and virtually vacated it. So indispensable was infant circumcision.* Let it be carefully noticed by the reader, that I have qualified the term neglect by unpermitted. God has a right to dispense with his own laws. He has done so on many occasions. The neglect of circumcision was permitted to the Israelites while they were prosecuting the tedious journeyings of the wilderness. Neglect, which is not of the nature of disobedience, but of duty, cannot be a breach of cov. enant. Neglect, which is of the nature of disobedi. ence, is such a breach of covenant, as nothing but
infant circumcisily vacated it. noise into a cond
*" And the male child that was not circumcised on the eighth day, was to be cut off from his people, as having broken the covenant, (for these words, on the cighth day, should be inserted in the 14th verse ; and the verse read thụs. The uncircumcised manchild, whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, on the eighth day, that soul shall be cut off from his people, he hath broken my covenant ; as appears from the Samaritan text, the Greek and Samaritan versions, and the citations of Philo, Justin, and Origen."
Hallet's Notes, Vol. III. page 276.
of the covenaw, why, that which
repentance, and that on the ground of an atonement, can repair.
As the reason why an unpermitted 'neglect of infant circumcision separated from the visible seed, was, that it broke the covenant, it is evident, that a breach of the covenant, let it consist in what it might, was a reason, in law, why a person should no longer be counted for the seed. That which was a reason in one case, would certainly be in another. In the nature of things, if a man openiy reject the covenant, he can no longer be considered as a subject of it. This idea is established by the whole current of scripture, The · covenant promises made to Abraham proceeded orig. inally upon this given principle, “I know Abraham, that he will command his children, and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord to do justice and judgment, that God may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him." The covenant, as expressed in the 17th of Genesis, is thus introduced. “Walk before me, and be thou perfect.” Circumcision must be attended with allegiance, otherways it becomes uncircumcision. St. Paul observes, Romans iii. 25. “Circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law ; but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision.” Obedi. ence then, just as it is now under the Gospel, was the condition of continuing visibly in the covenant : I say continuing ; it was not the condition of being estab. lished in it initially. Accordingly, in successive periods, when any part of nominal Israel were openly re. jected, it was because they had despised the covenant. All imperfections were borne with, so long as the cov. enant was not despised. This was done by open idolatry, and such other acts of disobedience, as amounted to a refusal to have God for their God. The Psalmist, Psalm, 78, detailing the dealings of God with the refractory part of Israel, assigns, as a general reason of the judgments which fell upon them, “For their heart was not right with him, nor were they stedfast in his covenant."
The numerous denunciations of the Mosaic and the prophetic law, provided for the exslusion of all, who, by personal disobedience, rejected the covenant; and, whether executed or not, whom God would have, and whom he would not have, counted for the seed.
Having thus clearly determined whom we are to understand to be the seed, really and visibly, there will be no difficulty in ascertaining what we are to understand to be intended by the covenant, mentioned in this arti. cle; the establishing of this covenant; and its duration, expressed by the term everlasting. The term covenant has its own explanation in the promise itself, “ to be a God unto thee and thy seed sfter thee.” In this covenant, God engaged, that in the highest sense, and by a relation as spiritual, and unalterable, as that which subsisted between God and Abraham, he would be the God of his seed, their shield, and exceeding great reward. This is so clear as to be beyond dispute. Nothing but partiality to a favorite theory can lead any one to attach a different idea to the declaration.
Equally evident is it, what is to be understood by the promise, to establish this covenant with Abraham, and his seed, throughout their generations. The plain import of the engagement is, like what has been just observed, that the covenant should not only be proposed, but take a full effect with respect to the seed, as it had taken effect with respect to Abraham. Therefore it secured the continuance of a seed, in successive genera. tions, with whom the covenant should be established.This is so obviously the import of the declaration, that ingenuity could scarce find out a different meaning to apply to it. This construction of the promise is agreeable to fact, and is confirmed by the current of the scriptures, especially by a question which the apostle Paul puts, in the beginning of the 11th chapter of his Epistle to the Romans, and the reply which he makes to it. " I say then, hath God cast away his people whom he foreknew ? God forbid.” This answer clearly supposes, as an undoubted fact, that there is a per