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prolong his days ; and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. In the translation of Bishop Lowth, which díffers from the common one only by being more correct and explicit, it is, “ If his soul shall make a propitiatory sacrifice, he shall see a seed which shall prolong their days; and the gracious purpose of Jehovah shall prosper in his hands." The difference lies, principally, in the
, second clause, “He shall see a seed, which shall prolong their days.” It could not, I think, with propriety be promised, as a reward to Christ for his sufferings, that, in any sense, he should prolong his own days ; but with the most perfect propriety, that he should see a seed, which, in a sense hereafter to be explained, should prolong Their days. The days of Him, who is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever; the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the ending, could not in any sense be prolonged in consequence of his sufferings, or of any other possible event. The word his, supplied by the Translators, is supplied erroneously: since in the present translation it presents a meaning, which plainly cannot be admitted. The justice of these remarks will be further evident from the repetition of the same covenant in the eleventh verse. He shall see of the travail of his Soul; that is, as explained by Lowth, “ Of the travail of his Soul he shall see thé fruit and be satisfied;" By his knowledge, or as Lowth more correctly renders it, “ By the knowledge of him, shall my Servant justify many." The justification of the many, here spoken of, connected with its consequences, is the very reward, promised in the preceding verse, in the words, He shall see a seed, which shall prolong their days : and here the reward, promised, is no other, than the justification and consequent eternal life of those, who should become interested in his death.
Still further is this interpretation evinced to be just by the repetition of the promise in the twelfth verse; or third of the text; Therefore I will divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong ; because he hath poured out his soul unto death; or, as more happily rendered by Bishop Lowth, Therefore I will distribute to him ihe many for his portion ; and the mighty people shall he share for his spoil, because he poured out his soul unto death. It is not true, that Christ has a portion divided to him with the great, or a spoil divided to him with the strong. He trod the wine press alone, and of the people there was none with him. Nor is there any one to share with him the reward of his sufferings; but he was alone in the sufferings, and the reward, alike. Accordingly, in the Septuagint this passage is rendered, “ For this cause shall he receive many for his inheritance, and shall share spoils of the strong,"
Finally, the same thing is abundantly evinced in Psalm lxxxix; where, also, the same covenant is recorded. Once have I sworn by my holiness, that I will not lie unto David. His seed shall endure for ever, and his throne as the sun before me. And again, His
seed also will I make to endure for ever, and his throne as the days of Heaven. It is to be observed, that in all these passages the reward, promised, to Christ, consists in giving persons to him; as seed; the many; the mighty people. These are undoubtedly no other than the general assembly and church of the first born ; styled elsewhere the children of God; little children ; sons and daughters. They are his own people; those, in whom he has a peculiar property; persons justified, who in this manner have become his portion; his spoil; his seed. The reward of his sufferings, here promised, is to consist of these.
It is not however, to consist in the persons only, but in their circumstances also. It is not promised, merely, that they shall be given to him as a possession, but that they shall be given to him in a peculiar manner; attended with one circumstance, at least, which in the eye of the Promiser was considered, as materially important to the nature of the gift. He shall see a seed, which shall prolong their days; or, as in the corresponding passage, shall endure for ever.
The meaning of this phraseology is to be sought in the use of it, in parallel passages, found in the Scriptures. In the 15th Psalm, David inquires, Lord, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill ? and immediately answers, He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness. In the 49th Psalm and 12th
of the wicked, That, being in honour, they abide not, but are like the beasts that perish. In the 125th Psalm and 1st verse, he says, They that trust in the LORD shall be as mount Zion, which cannot be removed, but abideth for ever. In John 10th and 15th, our Saviour saith to his disciples, If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love, even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love. In 1st of John 2d and 17th, it is said, And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof; but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever. In Psalm 1020 and 28th, it is said, The children of thy servants shall continue, and their seed shall be established before thee.
We are now prepared to settle the meaning of the phrase under consideration. To prolong their days, To endure for ever, is to abide in the tabernacle of God, in his holy hill, in the heavens ; to abide in the love of Christ, as he abides in his Father's love, for ever : to abide, when the World has passed away, and the lust thereof: to be established before God, or in his presence. In a word, it is to dwell for ever in heaven, amid the enjoyments of a happy immortality. This is what the Scriptures consider as abiding, enduring, and being established; whenever this language is applied to men. In opposition to this, the wicked are said to be cut off, and to perish; to be as the grass, to be destroyed, to be no more ; and their
; candle is said to go out. This part of the promise, then, is no other, than that the seed of Christ shall enjoy a blessed eternity.
In the passages, quoted from the 89th Psalm, an additional promise is made in the same covenant. It is there said, that his VOL. II.
seed shall endure for ever, and his throne, that is, his dominion over them particularly, as the days of heaven. The same thing is also covenanted, in different phraseology, in Isaiah ix. 6th and 7th, For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given ; and the government shall be upon his shoulder; and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Father of the everlasting age, and the Prince of Peace. And of the increase of his government, and peace, there shall be no end. Here we are taught, that, of the increase of the government of Christ, that is, of its splendour and glory, and of the peace, or prosperity, of his subjects, accomplished by it, there shall be no end : in other words, that the glory of his government, and the happiness of his church, shall increase for ever.
The condition, on his part, to which these rewards are promised, is that he shall make his soul an offering for sin ; or a propitiatory sacrifice. Another condition is also specified, as the procuring cause of the reward, in the last verse: and therefore was undoubtedly included, although not expressed, in the two former verses. This is, that he made intercession for the transgressors.
In this passage, then, we have the substance of the Mediation of Christ, drawn out in the essential particulars : his humiliation, atonement, and intercession. The reward also, that is, the great object, which was his inducement to undertake this Mediation, is distinctly expressed: viz. that he should see a seed, which should prolong their days, and that the gracious purpose of Jehovah should prosper in his hands. This in the Epistle to the Hebrews is by St. Paul styled the joy, set before him ; that is, set before him in this promise, or covenant; for which, he informs us, Christ endured the cross, and despised the shame.
In the text, also, we are taught the means, by which, on their part, mankind become his seed, expressed in the following declaration: By the knowledge of him shall my Servant justify many. By the knowledge of Christ here, we are unquestionably to understand that knowledge of God the Father, and Jesus Christ, whom he hath sent, which in John 17th and 3d he declares to be life eternal; and which in the 8th verse he speaks of as being the same with evangelical faith. They have known surely, that I have come out from thee; and they have believed, that thou didst send me. By this faith, as you well know, we are abundantly declared in the Scriptures, to be justified. The declaration of Paul to Peter, when, at Antioch, he separated himself from the Gentiles, through fear of them that were of the circumcision, and was therefore to be blamed, may stand in the place of all other passages on this point, We, who are Jews, and not sinners of the Gentiles, knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we, have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the Law: for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified. The faith of the
Gospel is, therefore, the knowledge, by which, it is said in the text, Christ shall justify many. The reason why it is called knowledge here, and elsewhere, is, that it involves views so just, extensive, and firmly established concerning this glorious Person : Whereas, in the same mind no such views existed, antecedently to the exercise of this faith. For Christ, like every other spiritual object, can only be spiritually discerned.
All these things, also, are exhibited to us in the form of a covenant. To this covenant, as to every other, there are two parties : God, who promises, and his Servant, who was to justify many. A condition is specified, to which is annexed a promise of reward. The condition is, that Christ should make his soul an offering for sin, and make intercession for the transgressors; or, in other words, execute the whole office of a Priest for mankind. The reward is, that he should receive the many for his portion, and that they should prolong their days, or endure for ever. It is remarkable, that this covenant, on the part of God the Father, like that made with Noah, and that made with Abraham, and various others recorded in the Scriptures, is in the 89th Psalm exhibited, as a promissory oath : Once have I sworn by my holiness, that I will not lie unlo David; His seed shall endure for ever, and his throne as long as the Sun.
I have dwelt minutely on the explanation of this passage of Scripture, because I have not seen it discussed in this manner; or with a reference to what is the main subject of it; and because I believed, that a minute examination was necessary to a distinct and satisfactory knowledge of what is contained in it.
If this explanation be admitted, the text contains the following doctrine. That God the Father entered into a Covenant with Christ, in which he promised him, on condition that he should become a Propitiation, and Intercessor, for sinners, as a reward of his labours and suffering the future possession of a Church, which under his government should be glorious and happy for ever.
Concerning this Covenant, usually called the Covenant of Redemption, I make the following observations.
1st. This Covenant was made from Eternity.
In the first chapter of the Epistle to the Ephesians, St. Paul, speaking of himself and his fellow-christians, says, Blessed be the God and Father of our LORD Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places, in, or through Christ, according as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy, and without blame, before him in love; having predestinated us unto the adoption of children, by Jesus Christ, to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will. In this passage St. Paul teaches us, that God blesses his Church, or Christians, with all spiritual blessings; or, as in the Original, with every spiritual blessing; through Christ, according as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world : and that he
has predestinated us, particularly, unto the adoption of children unto himself, through Christ also. This choice of his church, then, this predestination of it to the adoption of children through Christ
, existed before the foundation of the world. But this choice, this predestination of the church to the adoption of children unto himself
, through Christ, is the very same thing which, in another form, is declared in the text. The covenant, mentioned in the text, was therefore a transaction, existing before the foundation of the world; or, as this phraseology uniformly means in the Scriptures, from Eternity.
The text itself was written seven hundred years before Christ. It will not be supposed, that the transaction recorded in it, was then first admitted into the counsels of God; or that he, with whom is no variableness, nor shadow of turning, changed his mind in the days of Isaiah concerning this mighty object. If any person should be at a loss concerning this fact, let him remember, that this
covenant contains the very same promises, which were made to David, Abraham, and our first parents ; to all of whom the same wonderful transaction was, in terms less explicit, disclosed. The transaction itself, and the objects which it involved, were unquestionably the most important parts of the providence of God towards this world. It cannot, therefore, be believed, that it was left unprovided for, when the system was originally formed. Undoubtedly it was the object, which was chiefly in view, in the providence of God, and was an original part of the system. Accordingly, St.
Peter says, concerning Christ, that he was foreordained before the foundation of the world; and St. John calls him the Lamb, slain from the foundation of the world; and Christ himself, at the day of Judgment, styles the state of glory and happiness, destined for the righteous, the kingdom, prepared from the foundation of the world. Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. But this kingdom, and the Church, which inherits it, is the very subject of the covenant, contained in the text.
2dly. This covenant was the basis, on which was founded the whole system of providential dispensations towards the Church. Out of this covenant arose the Mediation of Christ;
his incarnation, life, preaching, miracles, humiliation, sufferings, and glorification. Out of this covenant arose the Mission of the Spirit of Grace ; who came into the world, to execute the purposes of Christ's redemption. Out of this covenant arose the Gospel; or the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament, which that Spirit taught to the Prophets and Apostles, and which communicates to us all the knowledge, which we possess, of the will of God, concerning the salvation of mankind. Out of this covenant arise the renovation and purification of the human soul; the light, comfort, peace, hope, and joy, which it receives in the present world; and, in the end, its admission into the heavens. Finally, out of this