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Thus all had a sufficient knowledge of God, to serve for the foundation of a saving faith, and of a moral practice. They might have understood "that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things that do appear." But, "when they knew God, they glorified him not as God," they glorified him indeed, but under symbolic representations ;* and having once deviated from the safe path of REVEALED truth, "their foolish heart was darkened." Their discoveries in astronomy, and other sciences, made them fancy themselves "wise," and so" they became fools." See Wisdom xiii. for a picture of the progress of idolatry, also ch. xiv. 27.
But the denial of the true God was not the first sin that drew down the righteous vengeance of the judge of all the earth (Gen. xviii. 25.) upon the descendants of Noah, In the days of Abram, the king of Egypt is not represented as resisting the divine warnings (Gen. xii. 17-20.) · Abimelech king of Gerar, appeals to God as to the uprightness of his intentions, and speaks of his people as "a righteous nation," and God expressly declares, that He had withheld him from sinning against Him. Gen. xx. 3-7. Idolatry was `not the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah, and the other cities of the plain, but "pride, fullness of bread, and abundance of idleness; neither did they strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. And they were haughty, and committed abomination before me, therefore I took them away, as I saw good." Ezek. xvi. 49.
*They framed certain symbolical or figurative representations of THE TRUE GOD, under the forms of beasts, birds, and fishes, expressive of their peculiar excellencies or powers; as the horns or strength of the bull, the milk or nourishment of the cow, the swiftness and sharp-sightedness of the eagle or hawk, the wisdom or cunning of the serpent, &c. until at length, the symbols were forgotten or perverted by the vulgar, into the most grovelling and senseless materialism on the one hand, or bestial idolatry on the other." Hales Anal, vol. ii. p. 255.
To those who thus abused the light they had, more could not be expected to be given; but this was not the case with faithful and obedient Abram, and under him we shall see a clearer manifestation of the divine purposes. (Compare Ps. xxv. 12-15.) To him were the promises made, the promises not only of temporal prosperity, but of the everlasting covenant, to be transmitted through him and his seed (Gal. iii. 8, 9, 16,) to all the nations and families of the earth. Gen. xii. 2, 3. To him, God, who had hitherto revealed himself in dreams and voices," appeared" personally* as the second person of the blessed Trinity. Gen. xvii. 1.
"The person who appeared to him called himself the ALMIGHTY GOD, and can be conceived to be no other person than our blessed Saviour. We read of no divine appearance to any person before the days of Abraham,† who was the first who built an altar to, and worshipped THE LORD, who appeared to him. Gen. xii. 7. Adam heard the voice of God many times. Gen. ii. 16, 18, iii, 8, 9. God spake to Cain, ch. iv. 9, 15, to Noah, vi. 13; vii. 1, viii. 15; ix. 1, 8, 12, 17; and probably to many others of the Antediluvians; but it is no where intimated, that the the LORD appeared unto any one person, until we are told that he appeared unto Abraham ; and then it is observed as what had not been before practised, that Abraham built an altar unto the LORD, who appeared to him, (Gen. xii. 7.); so that Abraham seems to have been the first person who knew or worshipped this LORD. Man, before he had received fresh and farther revelations than had been made to the world, worshipped Jehovah Elohim, the true and living God, but they worshipped GOD whom no man had ever seen, nor could see, and whom Job therefore believed to be invisible. Job. ix. 11. But the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and their children, worshipped not only the invisible God, but this LORD also." Shuckford, Con. vol. 2. p. 9, and 395.
+ Mr. Faber supposes there might have been several visible descents of the Saviour previous to the time of Abraham, see p. 225, 226 of this work. The reader is also referred to Mr. Faber's work. Horæ Mosaicæ, vol. 2. ch. 2, where the subject is discussed at large.
Abraham saw, by faith, the day or coming of Christ, and was glad. John viii. 56. We may also suppose him to have had some notions respecting the resurrection, typified in the restoration of his son Isaac, after having in will sacrificed him, in obedience to God. Heb. xi. 19. By the same type God rejected human sacrifices, though those that knew not God (would not know him,) wrested it into a precedent for those horrid rites which the LORD hateth. Deut. xii. 31. In the person of Melchizedek, Abraham saw a type of the threefold office of the Messiah. Although Melchisacrifices were offered from the beginning, yet this is the first person to whom the title of high priest is given, as called to that office in a special manner. divinity of CHRIST's person, the eternity of his office, and the infinite value of his oblation, were shadowed forth by him. Melchizedek is introduced into the sacred story, as one descending from heaven, and ascending thither, without any account of his birth or death. Heb. vii. The silence of the scripture is mysterious; for the spirit conducted holy men in their writings. The Levitical priests descended by natural generation from their predecessors, and had successors in their office, which were annexed to the race of Levi. But Melchizedek is represented without father and mother, without beginning and end of days, whose priesthood was permanent in itself. For things and persons have a double being, real in themselves, and notional as they exist in the mind; so that no mention being made of his coming into the world, or leaving it, the silence of the scripture is equivalent to his continual duration. Now in this was an adumbration of CHRIST, who was the eternal son of God, and really came from heaven to execute his office, and ascended thither. And, although his oblation was finished on the earth, yet the effects of it shall be eternal to his people, and the glory of it in himself. The Apostle observes another resemblance between the supreme quality of Melchizedek king of Salem, and JESUS CHRIST;
he was king of Righteousness and Peace; he governed his subjects in righteousness, and never stained those hands with human blood that were employed in the sacred office of the priesthood. And, by those glorious titles, are signified the benefits our SAVIOUR conveys to his people. He is the true king of Righteousness; by which, is not intended the righteonsness that justifies before God, in which respect, he is called the LORD our Righteousness, and is said to have brought in eternal righteousness, for that respects his priestly office; in that quality he acquired it. But that title signifies his giving most righteous laws, for the government of the church, and his dispensing righteous rewards and punishments, eternal life and death, by which he preserves the majesty of his laws, and secures the obedience of his subjects. And he is King of Peace; by which we are not to understand his temper and disposition, nor our peace with God; for reconciliation is grounded on his sacrifice; nor peace with conscience, the effect of the other; but that which depends upon his royalty. As the King of Peace, he keeps his subjects in a calm and quiet obedience; all their thoughts and passions are regulated by his will. The laws of secular kings are only exposed to the eyes, or proclaimed to the ears of their subjects; but his are engraven in their hearts. By the inward and Almighty efficacy of his spirit, he inclines them to their universal duty; and will bring them to everlasting peace in his glorious kingdom." Bates's Harm. Div. Attrib. p. 495.
In the rite of circumcision (ordained B. C. Circumci- 1897) was prefigured the Gospel graces of sion a type repentance, humility, (Lev. xxvi. 40-42.) temneration. perance, self-denial, &c. &c. the fruits of the
spirit when God has circumcised the heart, Deut." xxx. 6; Rom. ii. 28, 29; Phil. iii. 3; Col. ii. H.
Besides the revelations relating to the Messiah, God was pleased to foreshew to Abraham the temporal fortunes of his posterity, and of those nations with whom they should
be connected, viz. the Canaanites, Egyptians, &c. Gen. xv. 13-21. From Abraham, by Isaac, descended the Israelitish nation; by Ishmael, the twelve nations mentioned Gen. xvi. 6-12; xxv. 12-18; 1 Chron. i. 29-31, and called in common, Ishmaelites. By his wife Keturah, Abraham had six sons, (Gen. xxv. 1-4; 1 Chron. i. 32, 33,) called in common, Midianites. The children of Lot gave name to the Moabites and Ammonites. These, therefore, were all born under the blessing pronounced upon Shem; but, by mingling with the heathen, and learning their works, and joining them in aftertimes against the people of God, to defeat His known purposes, they became obnoxious to a separate curse, individually pronounced against them, as will be shewn in their respective histories.
Abraham seems to have entertained a great horror of the injustice of usurpation (the characteristic sin of the Hamites, see p. 229,) so that he did not attempt to appropriate to himself any portion of the land of Promise, but faithfully waited the appointments of God, which had allotted that land to the sons of Jacob (see p. 219. The same pious hatred of usurpation, made him give portions to the sons of Keturah, and "he sent them away from Isaac his son, while he yet lived," eastward, into the east country. Gen. xxv. 5, 6, that is, to the original lot of his family. With them, however, they must have carried the knowledge of the true God, and therefore, were responsible for the sin of idolatry into which they afterwards fell.
To Isaac, the covenant was twice confirmed by special revelation from God, (Gen. xxvi. 1-5, 24, 25,) and he "was himself a remarkable type of CHRIST, in his voluntary devotement of himself in the prime of life, and in his carrying the wood for the burnt sacrifice on his shoulders,