« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
sspring? Indeed to any but those who consider Abraham's history as altogether typical, and altogether miraculous, it must appear in'explicable. The birth of Isaac was a remarkable miracle in every part of it, clearly prefiguring the birth of the Messiah ; but KetuTah's family was also miraculous; and though not expressly spoken of by the apostles, we ought not to leave unapplied the key whicla they have left us. We confess there is considerable difficulty, but the subject is well worth inquiry. Some have supposed from the name Keturah, which means prefumed, incense, that her family prefigured the church of the Jews, who came up through the wilderness, perfumed with the spices of the merchant. But this will not correspond. We have seen Sarah the mistress of that household ; and Midian as well as others of Keturah's family were enemies to the Old Testament church. May we not rather consider Keturah's family as connected with the spreading of the truth in the latter days, towards the close of Abraham's spiritual life? Of one thing we may speak with confidence, that althougk done of that family appear in the church of God before, the attentive reader will find, that when the forces of the Gentiles are mustered at last, Keturah's sons make a conspicuous appearance, Isa. Ix. 4, 5, 6. There we find • Midian • and Ephah ; all they from Sheba coming, bringing gold and in• cense (Keturah), shewing forth the praises of the Lord. The same miraculous power, which gave Abraham's dead body strength, at the conception of Isaac, appears in Keturah's family. We find from the 6th verse, that Abraham gave them gifts, and sent •them away eastsward to the east country, not to interfere with Isaac, the heir of all. When the true Isaac was born, in Bethlehem of Judah, wise men from the east country were the first who paid him homage, and repaid Abraham's Son and Lord their gifts which the father had given.
They presented unto Jesus, gold, frankincense, and myrrh. So, when the way of the kings of the east is prepared, by the drying up of Euphrates, that last head of the river which flowed from Eden, the ships of Tarshish shall bring back these sons from afar; their sil. ver and their gold with them, &c Isa. lr. 9. We ought not to pass unnoticed, that these sons of Abraham carried with them to the east country, that knowledge of the God of Abraham, and his worship, of which the corrupted traces are so remarkable even at this day. When the reader of Sir William Jones's work is astonished to find vestiges of the true God among eastern idolaters, he has only to remember, that Abraham-sent the sons of his concubines to this very east country. We next find this distinguished character, Abraham, the friend of God, returning to his native dust. • Your fathers, where are they? the prophets, do they live for ever? Even Abraham, after all the remarkable honours conferred on him by heaven, must Jie down in the cave of Machpelah ; for flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor-can corruption inherit incorruption. It is said he was gathered to his people.
We find the same expressions applied to Isaac and Jacob, Gen. xxxv. 29. and xlix. 33. In Jacob's dying blessing of Judah, Gen, xlix. 10, speaking of Judah's Antitype and Lord, it is said, “To him shall the gathering of the people
be.' All that die in the Lord,' are gathered to Jesus Christ; and thus the fellowship of his people, so far from being dissolved is more closely united and cemented by death. It is not the fellowship of being all laid in the grave; but the fellowship which the spi. rits of the just enjoy in the separate state. The rich man saw Laza. rus gathered to his people, when he saw him in Abraham's bosom. This is the blessed hope of the gospel. We naturally think of the grave, as of that which separates us from our people; but the scriptures speak otherwise, pointing us to death as the mean of gathering together in one, the spirits of all the people of God. After Abraham's death, the blessing rested on Isaac. Of Ishmael's descendants, who became all heads of nations, see Gen. xvii, 18, we have already spoken shortly. We are then called to the following out of Isaac's history, in the birth of Esau and Jacob. It may in general be remarked as to Isaac, that he made a less conspicuous appearance than either Abraham or Jacob; nor does it seem that his life was intend. ed for similar typical purposes. His life, for seventy-five years of it, is blended with his father's; for though upon the face of the nar. ration, the birth of Esau and Jacob does not appear to have taken place till after the death of Abraham, yet, by comparing dates, we find that the young men must have been fifteen years old when their grandfather died. And we may justly consider it as no slight trial of the faith, both of the father and son, that Isaac, the heir of pro. mise, should live twenty years childless, after his marriage with Rebekah. That same sovereignty which appears conducting every event connected with the
grace, appears on this occasion. We mean not to enter here into any discussion on the doctrines of election and predestination. Those who will not hear Paul, while writing under the influence of the Holy Ghost, will never hear another. That struggle which Esau and Jacob and their posterity in future ages were to carry on, begun in the womb of their mother. At their birth, Esau obtained the preference; Jacob, as if foreshewing what he should afterwards do to this very Esau, took hold of his heel
. On the particulars of their birth, the red colour and name of Esau, contrasted with the character and name of Jacob, we shall refer our readers to Bishop Newton's valuable Dissertation, only remarking, that when the Son of God shall come up from Edom, with dyed garments from . Bozrah, red in his apparel,' this struggle and contest will be termi. nated, and not till then; see Isaiah lxiii. l. and Hosea xii. 3. In verse 27. we have the early character of the two brothers,-charac. ters which justly prefigured that of their posterity also. Esau, like Nimrod, was a cunning hunter ; a man of the field; a man of worldly pursuits and conquests ;--Jacob, a plain man, dwelling in tents; a pilgrim, who had here no continuing city. Heb. xi. 9.
This chapter concludes with that interesting transaction, Esau selling his birthright. With the key to it, which Paul has left us, Heb. xii. 15, 16. there is not a portion of scripture which should more nearly interest the conscience of every sinner. From this we may learn the value of the birthright under the Old Testament; and that Esau selling it, was nothing less than selling his hope in the promised Messiah. Every one who hears the gospel, is made a partaker in the heavenly birthright and calling ; that birth of the spirit, without which no man can enter into the kingdom of heaven. Now, when we are left to take our part and portion in this life, for
no man can serve God and mammon,' we sell this inheritance : And what shall it profit a man, if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul?"
CHAP. XXVI.-This chapter sets Isaac before us in circumstances very similar to those of his father Abraham, distressed by famine, in that very land which they had received in promise as a land flowing with milk and honey. Thus, these famines were not only typical, but remarkable trials of faith. The promise is renewed to Isaac; but an expression is used with respect to Abraham, which seems to de. mand more particular notice. • Because Abraham obeyed my voice, ** and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws,"
verse 5. We read of no commandment given to Abraham, but that at first, . Get thee out of thy country,' and the law of circumcision; but here we find the very words used, which are afterwards applied to the ceremonial law of Moses. We are thus justified in asserting. that although the patriarchal ritual is not recorded, yet they had one, From their mode of worship, we may learn, that it respected mercy through the shedding of blood. Their statutes and laws were pro. bably not first given to Abraham, though seemingly enlarged to him, as in the case of circumcision ; of which, says our Lord, it is not of Moses, but of the fathers.' Noah had a law, which taught him to distinguish clean and unclean beasts, and to offer the former only in sacrifice. Divine commandment taught Abraham to build his altar, plant his grove, and dig his well. We next find Isaac, in the same situation with Abimelech, as to Rebekah, as Abraham had been with Sarah. See Gen. xx. 5. In verse 12. we are told that Isaac sowed in that land, and received an lundied fold. When the 87th Pslam receives its complete accomplishment, and they of Philistia and Tyre, are reckoned among the inhabitants of Zion, then will Isaac's hundred fold be understood. The conclusion of this chapter records the digging again the wells of his father Abraham, calling them by the same names, and the strife which they occasioned between Isaac's herdsmen and those of the Philistines. As we have not observed this subject particularly attended to by any writer, we shall hazard a few remarks on it. Bread and water are the two great supporters of human life; and as such, are much employed in scripture. Water points forth that living water, which comforts and refreshes the spirit of man. In easteren countries, a pool, a stream, or spring of water, was invaluable. Thus sings the Psalmist, • Blessed is the • man, who passing through the valley of Baca, makes it a well, (or 'to the well-spring go), the rain also filleth the pools. They go • from strength to strength, till they appear before the Lord in • Zion,' Psal. Ixxxiv. Christ and his gospel were often represented as the fountain of life' Hence says Paul of the church in the wil. derness, 'they drank of the rock which followed them, and that rock • was Christ. When the patriarchs, therefore, in their journeyings, lighted on a spring of water, it was a valuable discovery to them in a natural point of view, and highly figurative of spiritual support. A well was thus a valuable piece of property.
· Art thou greater • than our father Jacob, who gave us the well?' said the woman of Samaria to our Lord. The naming of these wells was prophetical, and will be found to bear a constant allusion to Christ and his gospel. This also the herdsmen of the Philistines striving. with Isaac's herds. men, was an instructive picture of the strife which has ever subsist. ed between the enemies and lovers of the truth. The
great business of antichristian teachers has always been to stop up the wells of Abrabam ; to contaminate the pure springs of the everlasting gospel : as in likemanner, the fellow.labourers, and herdsmen in the church of Christ, are employed in keeping the streams pure, and clearing a. way the rubbish from the old fountains of our father Abraham, which spiritual Philistines are constantly choaking them with.
Chap. XXVII. This chapter is occupied with the manner in which Jacob obtained the birth-right, a subject which will be found pretty copiously examined in Biblioth. Sac. at the word Jacob. We shall therefore only mention, that if we do not consider the whole of the transaction here recorded as of a prophetic nature, it will be the wiser part to leave the infidel unanswered. But consider it in this spiritual point of view, and the whole will appear in a most striking manner illustrative of the
purpose of divine
the counsel of him who knows the end from the beginning.
Chap. XXVIII.--Here again we shall not find it necessary to detain our readers, as the portion of Jacob's history recorded in this chapter has been so often handled. It may be observed, that so soon as Jacob obtains the blessing, the persecution of the gospel awaits bim. Like Cain's hatred of Abel, and indeed all opposition and hatred of the truth, it is most violent; and thus in every age, it has been manifest, that all who will live godly in Christ Jesus,' must suffer for his sake. And it may be added, that all who with Moses choose afflictions with Christ, can only endure as seeing him who is invisible. To support Jacob, in the course of self-denial and banishment from his father's house, God was pleased to make the wonderful revelation to him of the mystery of godliness,' at Bethel. In reading this chapter, the sameness of the doctrine of the Old and New Testament will appear remarkable, by observing the care of the patriarchs to avoid intermarriages with the heathens, ver. 1. compared with chapter xxvi. 34; Ezra ix. 2, 3. 2 Cor. vi. 14. Acts ii. 40. The blessing here bequeathed is called the blessing of Abraham, which Paul tells the Galatians is the same blessing that is now come upon the nations. Thus, it is evident, that the blessing which Jacob sovereignly acquired, is that gospel which is now preached to every creature under heaven. • A multitude of people,' will remind the Teader of such passages as Numb. xxiji. 10. Heb. xii. 22, 23. and Rey, vii. 9.
Chap. XXIX.-The domestic occurrences of Jacob's family are here recorded in a manner we may be well assured would not have been done, had not a greater personage than Jacob, and a more important family than his natural seed, been intended. As our object, however, is shortly to glance at such passages as have not been attended to in the Bibliotheca Sacra, we shall not have occasion to enter very minutely into this chapter. Jacob, who had lain down in Bethel, a poor solitary wanderer, arose under the assured protection and blessing of Almighty God. He therefore, like the Eunuch, goes on his way rejoicing. Here we find again a well the place of meeting, and watering of sheep an important office; and thus we see the cause, not only why a well is so often used to point out the gospel, but how interesting a view is intended of the office of Jesus Christ, when he is called the Great Shepherd of the sheep.' The prophet Hosea says, (chap. xii. 12.) • Jacob fled into the country of
Syria, and Israel served for a wife, and for a wife he kept sheep.' In all this transaction we have most beautiful representation of the service of Christ for his church. Both Rachel and Leah, the Old and New Testament mothers, he purchased by his service of love. We read twice in this chapter, of fulfilling her week,' referring doubtless to the seven days' feast, &c. usual on such occasions, Judg. xiv. 12. But this also furnishes a proof of the early division of time by sevens, as was indeed the case with Noah in the ark. This furnishes no slight evidence of the early observation of the Sabbath.
CHAP. XXX.-continues the history of Jacob's family during the twenty-one years service and bondage in the house of a kinsman, Laban. The reader will remark the three sevens in which the church of God was in the house of bondage. And during this period, we find the bondwoman used to raise up seed to Jacob, as Hagar was by Sarah. We
may also observe that the earnestness for children manifested both by Rachel and Leah, proceeded from the anxious hope of the promised Messiah to spring from the root of Jacob. The circumstance of the mandrakes is a very singular one, and we have no doubt has an important meaning, were it understood. We confess ourselves incapable of throwing light upon it. We have only further to remark on this chapter, that the means to which Jacob was guided by heaven, to enrich himself, is another of those portions of sacred history which extremely puzzles many friends of scripture. On this passage Bishop Wilson says, . This will not justify every man * now to use such arts to increase his substance. The gospel has re• stored justice to her original rights. A little attention will give a more satisfaetory solution to it. Jacob is here in the house of bondage ; and Laban is loth to part with him, for his own interest. He therefore urges his stay, and at length God enriched Jacob from Laban's flocks. The reader will remember how Jacob's posterity were received into the house of bondage in Egypt from kindness, as Laban received Jacob at first. When the king arose who knew not Joseph, and when Israel, like Jacob, wished to depart, Pharaoh would not let him go, for his own interest. When God at last led