The Kingdom anticipated by the Jews at the First Advent is based on the Abrahamic and Davidic Covenants.
PROPOSITION 46. The Kingdom anticipated by the Jews at the First Advent is based on the Abrahamic and Davidic Coveants.
This might be shown by numerous references, but it will be sufficiently conspicuous by adverting to the declarations found in only one chapter of the New Testament. Thus, e.g., Luke 1:32, 33, 55, 72, 73, where we have undoubted allusions to previously obtained covenants, in “the mercy promised to the fathers,” in “the holy covenant” confirmed by oath “to our father Abraham,” and in “the throne of his father David.”
Obs. 1. In turning back to the fountain head from whence this doctrine, this faith in a Messianic Kingdom proceeds, we only reiterate what others have most aptly stated when we invite for the covenants an absorbing interest in view of their living, fundamental connection with final Salvation in Christ’s Kingdom. Kurtz (His. Old Cov., p. 175) has well expressed this “a foundation on which the great Salvation is ultimately to appear.” Thorp (The Dest. of the Brit. Empire, Pref., p. 8) justly observes: “The Abrahamic Covenant is the foundation of all the dispensations of heaven, both to Jews and Gentiles.”[*]
Note. This has been noticed by Brooks (El. of Proph. Inter., ch. 2), Bickersteth (Guide to Proph.), Judge Jones (Notes to the Scriptures), besides a host of others, as Auberlen, Delitzsch, Lord, the Bonars, etc. Indeed, it is universally admitted, however explained afterward, that the covenants are the proper basis of future Revelation, and that they contain in an epitomized form the substance of God’s Purpose in reference to man’s Salvation, the Messiah’s Kingdom and glory, and the perfected Redemption from the curse. Hence, men of all shades of opinion agreeing in this matter, it is essential for any one who desires to become a real student of God’s Word to make himself familiar with these covenants, seeing, that, in the nature of the case, all things following must correspond fully with these previously given pledges and guides. While the covenants are necessarily primary in a proper conception of the Divine Plan relating to Redemption, presenting a central idea, the reader will observe that they are scripturally based and grammatially founded on direct oath-bound promises, and hence are to be distinguished from that vague, scholastic, mystical effort to make the covenants a central idea as given e.g. by John Cocceius (Hagenbach’s His. Doc., vol 2, sec. 222 and 223), Pres. Edwards’s (His. Redempt.), and others. This grasping after the covenants as a foundation thought relating to the Kingdom of Christ is characteristic of the German Reformed Theology (see Hagenbach’s His. of Doc., sec. 223, Amer. Ed. added, and Heppe on Ger. Reform. Church in Mercersburg Review for 1853), and is found in theologians of ability in various denominations. Unfortunately, however, many have much to say about a covenant made between the Father and Son in eternity—of which we have no record, and which opens a door for conjecture and unproven inferences—while they ignore, more or less, those on record.
Obs. 2. Let it be observed that in approaching the covenants we are not at liberty to receive one and reject another, nor are we authorized to take just as much as may suit our Theological views out of one and refuse to believe in the rest. Here is where many Theological writings make the fatal mistake: they are willing to receive the Abrahamic covenant as a perpetual one, but not the Davidic, when the same perpetuity is asserted of both; they are agreed to receive part of the Abrahamic, or part of the Davidic covenant, but not all that is written. No wonder that a diversity is thus produced, and an antagonism to the Old Test. The Jews and the Primitive Church were far more logical and scriptural when they cordially received those covenants and believed in God’s statements concerning them. The trouble at present is, that the church, with all her professions, has too little faith.
Obs. 3. Approaching the covenants and seeing how they form great central points around which successive revelations cluster—yea, the foundation stones upon which the Christological structure is erected—we are not surprised at the efforts made to undermine their force, either by separating the Old from the New Test. as antiquated, or by elevating the New far above the Old as only worthy of reception, or by a rejection of the Old as not authentic, etc. De Wette and others may apply their mythical interpretation to Abraham, etc.; Ammon and others may reject the Old Test. as having no special divine worth; Colenso and others may endeavor to set aside reliance upon the writings of Moses; Schleiermacher and others may place the Old in a position far inferior to the New in dignity, value, etc.—all this, and more, may be done, and yet in the simple covenant words, in their gradually unfolded purpose, in their continuous progress in and toward fulfilment, in their fundamental relationship to Messianic hopes, etc., we have the most triumphant vindication (comp. Prop. 16 and 198) of the equality and truthfulness of all Divine Revelation, and of the significance and fundamental importance of the covenants, and also a rebuke given to the foolishness of a learned display of unbelief.[*]
Note. If the reader follows the development of the covenant, he will be enabled to appreciate the value of the author’s allegation in the History of the Hebrew Monarchy, that Moses forged God’s covenant with Abraham for political purposes. The wish is father to the thought, for the very tenor of the covenants forbid such an idea, seeing that for fulfilment it implies a resurrection from the dead, etc.; in brief, such an intervention of the Supernatural, as is evidenced already by the past, that no man could incorporate for such a purpose. Hengstenberg, Marsh, Kurtz, Fritzsche, Hävernick, Jahn, and others, in vindicating the credibility of the Old Test. Scriptures, etc., have performed an excellent preparatory work.
Obs. 4. The Abrahamic and Davidic covenants were very prominently held by the early church, as can be readily seen by the general use made of them, illustrated, e.g. in the Epistle of Barnabas, the writings of Irenĉus, Justin, Tertullian, etc. So that Renan (Apostles, p. 116) remarks in reference to the practice of the Primitive Church: “The perusal of the Old Test., above all of the Psalms and the Prophets, was a constant habit of the sect”—a testimony most honorable to the church.[*]
Note. At the present day they are largely ignored, just as if we had no personal interest in them, and so imperfect is the comprehension of Scripture, that we have plenty of works which present us, as the two great covenants, “the Law and the Gospel,”