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part of a tribe; the subdivision of a tribe into families might be carried to an indefinite extent, every distinguished man in the nation becoming a patriarch whose descendants constitute his family.

From this brief examination we learn that the nations, families and kindreds of the earth to be blessed in Abraham, are the nations and tribes of the earth. The promise does not necessarily include every individual of the human race, but simply the nations of the earth; and it will be fulfilled to the letter when the nations of the earth shall, as nations, not as individuals, participate in the blessing promised. Hence we conclude that the promise is general, not particular; that it does not necessarily include the whole race, taken as individuals; yet it gives the assurance that the blessing promised shall in due time be possessed by the nations; no nation shall be a stranger to it, or be denied the privilege of participating in it.

Another question of deep interest is, What is the blessing promised to the nations of the earth through the seed of Abraham? In what does it consist? This can best be answered by ascertaining how those to whom the promise was made, and were directly interested in it, understood

the matter.

I. What did Abraham understand the blessing to consist in? We can best answer this question by consulting the statements of Scripture made in connection with the promise. While Abraham was dwelling in Haran, the Lord said to him, "I will make of thee a great nation; and I will bless. thee; and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing, and in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed." In such connection it is evident that Abraham was to be blessed in being highly prospered, in gaining a great name, and in being the father of a great nation. Probably no one would affirm that this statement of Scripture declares that the blessing promised to Abraham consisted in anything essentially different from the particulars just mentioned. And there is no evidence that Abraham regarded the promised blessing as consisting in anything really different. It seems that Abraham became desponding at length, as he became old and had no son. For at one time he said, "Lord, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go child

less, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus ? Behold, to me thou hast given no seed; and lo, one born in my house is my heir." To reassure him, the Lord bade him count the stars, if he were able, saying, "So shall thy seed be." He believed. God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Afterwards when he was ninety-nine years old, and still had no son, no legal heir, he was again reassured. In a vision God talked with him, saying, "Behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations. Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for the father of many nations have I made thee. And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee; and kings shall come out of thee. And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, in their generations, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God."

We think Abraham would understand this language as relating simply to temporal blessings; to general prosperity; to the honor of being the father of a great and prosperous nation who should revere him as an eminent man and servant of God. We think it is evident that Abraham must have understood the promised blessing in this way, and in this alone. How could the nations of the earth be blessed in him except by participating in the blessings which he enjoyed? He could not impart or bequeath to any one a blessing which he did not possess. Neither could his posterity obtain that through him which he did not have. What he possessed was prosperity and the favor of God to whom he was obedient. And what his descendants, the Hebrew nation, obtained, was national prosperity and the favor of God, to whom they promised obedience. As many as participated in this blessing, entered into the enjoyment of the same which Abraham possessed. We think there is no evidence that the patriarch expected to enjoy a different blessing himself, or anticipated that one of a different kind would be secured through him to his posterity.

II. How did the Jews understand the blessing promised to Abraham-especially the Jews in the time of Christ? Space will permit only a brief examination of Jewish opinions on this point. The superficial reader even of the

New Testament, will not fail to see that the Jews were expecting the coming of a Messiah who would be a national prince, under whose reign they would become great and powerful. Their hopes all centered in a temporal king, and they thought only of national prosperity and renown. Zacharias, at the birth of his son, John the Baptist, was filled with the Holy Spirit and said, "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people, and hath raised up a horn of salvation for us, in the house of his servant David, as he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets which have been since the world began; that we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us; to perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant; the oath which he sware to our father Abraham, that he would grant unto us that we, being delivered out of the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life."

From this it plainly appears that Zacharias understood

the oath to Abraham to mean that the Jews should be delivered from the power of their enemies and oppressors, and, advanced to a highly prosperous condition as a nation, should serve God all the days of their life. John the Baptist being the forerunner of Christ, his birth was regarded as the early dawn of that day of glory which the Jews were to enjoy under the Messiah's reign. Hence Zacharias says of John, "Thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest, for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways; to give knowledge of salvation unto his people, by the remission of their sins, through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us, to give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet in the way of peace." The birth of John indicated that the morn of the happy day was approaching when the Hebrew nation should enjoy independence, prosperity and renown under the everlasting reign of Messiah.

And when the aged Simeon took the child Jesus in his arms, he said, "Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace according to thy word; for mine eyes have seen. thy salvation, which thou hast provided before the faces of all people, and the glory of thy people Israel." Here the

common belief of the Jews appears in representing Christ as the glory of Israel. The glory and renown of the nation were closely associated in the common thought of the people with the coming of Christ. It was to result in the glory of Israel as a nation, agreeably to the promise to Abraham and the declarations of the ancient prophets. No sooner had Simeon spoken these words of promise and encouragement to the Jews, than Anna, a prophetess, came in, and "gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem." Here again we find the idea of redemption of the people from the power of their enemies, and the establishment of Messiah on his throne in Jerusalem. It was no other kind of redemption for which the people were looking, as is shown by the multitudes regarding him as a king, because they believed him to be the Messiah who should come. There were times when the people who thronged the Saviour thought he was about to assert his royal authority and enter upon his glorious reign. More than once they would take him by force and make him king. At his triumphant entry into Jerusalem the excited multitudes thought their cherished hopes were about to be realized. We also find that the disciples even entertained similar ideas respecting the reign of Christ, and often "disputed which should be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven." "The mother of Zebedee's children" actually presented herself before the Saviour to prefer this request," that her two sons might sit, the one on his right hand and the other on his left in his kingdom.' They confidently expected that the Messiah was to be a great and powerful king, and believing that Jesus was Messiah, they wished to secure places of honor under him as king. Thus the blessing which they expected to gain through Abraham was national prosperity, greatness and glory under the reign of a wise and powerful prince.


III. What views did the Saviour and the apostles, after the illumination enjoyed on the day of pentecost, have of the blessing promised to Abraham? We know that Jesus claimed to be the promised Messiah, that he spoke of his reign and his kingdom. We know also that he laid no claim to the throne of David in a literal sense; but affirmed that his kingdom was not of this world. It was a moral or

spiritual one, having for its object the moral improvement, the religious culture of men. All the true subjects of his reign became characteristically the children of God. Jesus' language is so explicit, and is repeated in such varied forms, that it need not be quoted in proof of the statements just made, for all must be familiar with it.

The apostles were equally plain in their discourses to the people, and in their letters to the churches. On the day of pentecost, when the Holy Spirit was poured out on the disciples, Peter, under the inspiration of the hour, said to the multitudes of wondering Jews present: "Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed. Unto you first, God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you in turning away every one of you from his in quities." Here we are told that the promised blessing consists in turning men from their iniquities; or, in making them moral and religious. When one turns from the love and practice of sin to the love of God and the practice of righteousness, he is turned from his iniquities. He then ceases to be a child of sin and becomes a child of God. And the happiness, the enjoyment upon which he enters constitutes the blessing promised. He who has entered upon the Christian state knows by happy experience what the blessing is; while he who is a stranger to the Christian state, is also a stranger to the blessing.


St. Paul discourses on this subject with his usual clearness and force, saying, " Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. So then they which be of faith, are blessed with faithful Abraham. Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us, that the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, and to thy seed, which is Christ." The apostle sums

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