Thursday, April 12, 2018

The Abrahamic Covenant, by Dr. George B. Fletcher, Ch. 5

Chapter V
     There are two covenants of which the apostle Paul speaks in Galatians 4 and Hebrews 8 and 9; namely, the Old and the New covenants. Both were included, by way of promise, in the covenants made with Abraham; namely, the covenant of Circumcision and the Gospel covenant.
1. The Old covenant was only a        1. The New covenant is an
TEMPORAL relation between             ETERNAL relation between God
God and a particular nation,             and his people from among all
which is now DONE AWAY                 nations, and is therefore called
and come to an end (Heb. 8:13).       an EVERLASTING covenant
                                                        (Heb. 13:20).
2. The Old covenant was CAR­NAL      2. The New covenant is SPIRITUAL
 and EARTHLY:                                    and HEAVENLY:
(a) In its WORSHIP, which stood         (a)In its WORSHIP, which requires a true­
only in meats and drinks, and divers   heart, faith, and a good conscience,
washings, and carnal ordinances        and to be performed in spirit and
(Heb. 9:10).                                      truth (Heb. 9:19-23; John 4 :23).
(b) In its SACRIFICES of bulls, and       (b) In its SACRIFICE, which
of goats, which could never take        is Christ, and which per­fects for ever
away sin, or purge the conscience      them that are sanctified (Heb.10:14).
(Heb. 9:9 and 10:4)
(c) In its MEDIATOR; name­ly,              (c) In its MEDIATOR, namely,
Moses (Gal. 3:19).                               Christ Jesus (Heb. 12:24).
(d) In its PRIESTS; namely, Aaron        (d) In its PRIEST; namely, Christ, who is
and his sons, who were sinful men,     holy, harmless, etc., and abideth a­
and not suffered to continue by           priest continually, ever living to make
reason of death (Heb. 7:23,28).           intercession for us (Heb. 7:24-26).
(e) In its SANCTUARY, which was         (e) In its SANCTUARY, which is heaven
worldly and made with hands              itself, whereinto our great High Priest
('Heb. 9: 1,24).                                   has entered, having obtained eternal
                                                          redemption for us (Heb. 9: 12).
(f) In its PROMISES. They being            (f) In its PROMISES. They being spiritual
worldly blessings in earthly places,      blessings in heavenly places, and
and res­pecting only a prosperous         chiefly respecting the life to come,
life in the earthly Canaan                    and the enjoyment of the heavenly
(Deut. 28:1-15; Isa. 1:19; Joshua         inheritance (Eph.   1:3; Titus 1:2;
 21:43,45; 23:14-16).                           Heb. 8:6; 11:16).
(g) In its SUBJECTS, or people              (g) In its SUBJECTS: they being the
covenanted; they being the fleshly       spiritual seed of Abraham, typified by
seed of Abraham, children of the         the fleshly seed; being chosen in Christ
temporal promise, related to God         before the foundation of the world;
as his typical people, and to Christ       predestinated unto the adoption of
as his kinsmen acc­ording· to the           children, and redeemed by the blood ­
flesh: which typical and fleshly             of Christ. These are the children of
relation availed them much for the      the promise, who, in God's appointed
enjoyment of the typical and               time, are born, not of blood, nor of he
earthly privileges of this covenant:       will of  the flesh, nor of the will of
but as Hagar,the bondwoman, was        man,  but of God; being born again,
cast out with her son born after the     not of corruptible seed, but of in-
flesh; so the covenant itself being        corruptible, even by the Word of God,
antiquated, its tem­poral typical           which liveth and abideth forever: who
privileges vanished, its subjects           have the law of God written in their
were cast out and disinherited; the      hearts, and all know him from the
fleshly relation upon which they          least to the greatest. Through this
received cir­cumcision, availed of         work of the Spirit, they believe in
nothing for their partaking spiritual     the name of the Son of God, and by the
privileges, nor were they, as child-      profession of this their faith, they
ren of this covenant, admitted heirs    appear to be the seed of Abraham,
with the children of the freewoman,    children of the freewoman, and heirs
or new covenant (Rom.9:4-9;               according to the ­promise, to whom
Gal. 6:16; 4:22-31).                             belong all spiritual  privileges, and
                                                           baptism among the rest (Eph. 1:4,5;
                                                           l Pe. 1:18,19; John 1:13; 1 Pe. 1:23;
                                                          Heb. 8:10,11; Gal. 3:26, 29; 4:28-31; 
                                                          Acts 4:41,42).
     From this contrast it appears that the Old Covenant made with ·the whole nation of Israel, and all the things establish­ed by it, were only earthly patterns of things in heaven (Heb. 9:23), figures for the time then present (Heb. 9:9), shadows of good things to come (Heb. 10:1), imposed upon the typical Israel until the time of reformation (Heb.9:10), under which they were shut up unto the faith that should afterwards be revealed (Gal. 3: 23).. So that, apart from their typical reference, there was nothing spiritual or heavenly in them. And as this covenant was typical and earthly, so were the covenanted people.
     Cecil J. Lowry, in "Whither Israeli? Mosaic Restora­tionism Examined" points out that, "It is a fact, beyond dispute, that National Israel was a type, just as typical as were her holy-days, sacrifices, priesthood, and Temple. It is a law in typology that a type is a temporary arrangement destined, in· God's own time, to give place to the antitype. Ancient or typical Israel was a type or the New Testament Kingdom of God, thus the type was superseded eternally by the antitype."
     Nor was there any necessity for Abraham's fleshly seed of the nation of Israel being regenerated in order to their partaking of the Old Covenant privileges, seeing these privileges were earthly, and suited to men in a natural state. It was requisite only they should be the fleshly seed of Abraham, observe the letter of the law, and have the sign of the covenant in their flesh by circumcision.
     Though some of the fleshly Israel were likewise of the spiritual Israel, yet they were not so by their fleshly descent from Abraham, nor by the temporal promise concerning his natural seed, to which circumcision belonged, nor yet by the peculiar typical covenant at Sinai founded thereon. It was rather by an election of sovereign grace, and faith in the notable SEED, the Mediator of the New Covenant, of which their fleshly relation and temporal covenant was but a type or earthly pattern (Rom. 11:5,7; Heb. 11: 13,39,40).
     As type and antitype hold the same relation with flesh and spirit, shadow and substance, earth and heaven, we must always keep this distinction in mind when running the parallel between Abraham's two-fold seed, or else we shall confound those born only of the flesh, with those born of the Spirit.
     An example illustrating this point is the argument that as the infant seed of Abraham born after the flesh were to be circumcised under the Old covenant, so the infant seed of believers likewise born after the flesh are entitled to sprinkling under the New covenant today. But this is to confuse matters and would be only one fleshly seed typifying another fleshly seed, and so would not answer to the distinction that must always be held between the type and the antitype. The beasts sacrificed under the law were not typical of any other beasts to be sacrificed under the gospel; nor did the Old Covenant with the fleshly seed typify that the New covenant should be with another fleshly seed. Therefore, unless we suppose that shadow and substance, sign and thing signified, type and antitype are of the same nature and kind, we must of necessity acknowledge that the natural seed of Abraham, BORN OF THE FLESH, according to the temporal promise typified his spiritual seed, BORN OF THE SPIRIT according to the New covenant promise.
     The fleshly birth sufficiently distinguished the subjects of circumcision. Circumcision was a thing visible and the highest evidence. that could be had of their being the natural seed of Abraham, to whom that ordinance belong­ed. Consequently Israelitish infants were the natural seed at the time of their birth, just as much as at any later period in their lives. However, this is far from being the case with the spiritual seed of Abraham; for as regen­eration is invisible, so the carnal birth, be it of whom it may, is no proper proof of regeneration, nor can the spiritual seed upon the basis of their physical birth receive baptism, but only upon their profession of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. There is possibly no fitter expedient for corrupting Christianity, or making-nominal Christians, than the administering of baptism· ·to · such as can make no personal or scriptural profession of the faith, but substitute the profession of another in its place.

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