« PreviousContinue »
2. In the course of the same prophetic admonition, which Jacob closes with announcing his expectation that he should soon be gathered to his people, he uses the following remarkable expression; I have waited for thy salvation, O Jehovah'.
To any application of this passage, which may interfere with his favourite system, Bishop Warburton has at hand a ready objection. He grants, that it may respect the salvation of mankind Jesus Christ in a spiritual sense; nay, for aught he knows, it may in a literal. But how should an early Jewish reader understand it in this sense, when the same terms of the salvation of God or of the Lord are perpetually employed throughout the whole Bible, to signify God's temporal mercies to the patriarchs and their posterity??
compendiously dismisses the two expressions, used by Jacob, in the following manner. To be reduced to one common lot or condition is called being gathered to their people. In this sense Jacob might properly say, that he would go down to the grave to a dead son who was never buried; that is, that he should find no ease to his sorrows till he was reduced to the same condition. Perhaps he might, if we had not unfortunately upon record Job's profession of belief; that he would remain hidden in Sheol, until God should remember him after a set time, until the day of his renovation should come, until the Lord should have a desire to the work of his hands, until God should call to Job in Sheol and Job should forthwith answer him out of this same Sheol. Job xiv. 13-15.
1 Gen. xlix. 18.
2 Div. Leg. book vi. sect. 3. p. 398.
In this objection, the learned prelate first assumes (what he always takes for granted), that the early Jews were ignorant of a future state, and therefore could not suppose Jacob to allude to it and next he maintains, that these ignorant Jews were such extraordinary reasoners; that, when the DYING patriarch professed himself to be waiting for the salvation of Jehovah, he could only be thought to refer to his full expectation of receiving God's TEMPORAL mercies.
I should conceive, that any person, who had not bound himself to maintain a system at all hazards, let him be Jew or let him be Gentile, let him be ancient or let him be modern, could not but immediately see; that, when a DYING man professes to wait for the salvation of Jehovah, he must needs profess to wait for SPIRITUAL salvation in a FUTURE state. A man IN GOOD HEALTH might doubtless have used the expression with reference only to God's TEMPORAL mercies: but, how a DYING man could be waiting for TEMPORAL mercies, or how any early Jewish reader could have fancied such to be the case with the DYING Jacob, I am utterly at a loss to comprehend.
Common sense then itself may shew, that we have here a distinct and undeniable reference to a FUTURE state of happiness: but the passage, unless I greatly mistake its import, sets forth much more than a naked expectation of such a state on the part of Jacob. I have waited for thy
salvation, O Jehovah. Who is the Jehovah, here addressed by the holy patriarch? He himself tells us in a passage, to which every early. Jewish reader had free access. The God of his fathers Abraham and Isaac and doubtless of himself also was that mysterious being; who is denominated the Angel of Jehovah, who was wont to appear in a human shape under the Patriarchal and Levitical Dispensations, who had wrestled as a man with Jacob, and who (we have reason to believe) was expected as the promised Saviour and Deliverer of mankind'. To him the venerable saint addresses his dying prayer and profession of faith: I have waited for thy salvation, O Jehovah. Now what can this salvation be, but salvation' through that Jehovah, whose day his grandfather Abraham had beheld afar off, and was glad? Jacob then not only professes his belief in a future state of glory after a manner, which no Jew of plain common sense could well misunderstand: but he likewise professes to build his hope of that state upon the salvation to be hereafter wrought out by the incarnate Word or Angel of Jehovah.
II. I do not think it necessary to enter more
1 Gen. xlviii. 15, 16. xxxii. 24, 30. Hoshea xii. 2—5. 2 Such accordingly is the interpretation of the passage, not merely by a Christian writer whom Bishop Warburton might esteem a prejudiced expositor, but also by the Targum of Jerusalem and the Paraphrase of Jonathan. See Horæ Mosaic. book ii. sect. i. chap. 3. § II. 1. (2.)
at large into those inferences, which, after the manner taught us by our Lord, may be drawn from various expressions in the Pentateuch: my object has rather been to give a specimen of those allusions to a well known doctrine, which are all that we can reasonably expect to find in a volume of statute law subjoined to a very brief history of the transactions of many centuries. In a similar manner, I profess only to give a specimen of the parallel inferences which may be drawn from certain peculiar ceremonies.
1. We find St. Paul declaring, that the promise, which was made unto the fathers, God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again1.
Here we are expressly taught, that a promise of Christ's resurrection was made to the fathers or to the patriarchs: we must seek then for this promise in a period anterior to the Law. Now where shall we find it, except in the mystic drama of the sacrifice of Isaac; a transaction so admirably illustrated by Bishop Warburton himself? As the Apostle informs us, Abraham accounted that God was able to raise him up even from the dead: whence also he received him in a figure or parable or scenical representation. But, in propriety of speech, no promise of Christ's resurrection could here have been made to Abraham; if all the while he was quite ignorant of the
1 Acts xiii. 32, 33.
2 Heb. xi. 19,
nature and meaning of that transaction, in which he had been engaged: Abraham therefore, as the bishop rightly judges, must have understood the matter. St. Paul however does not say, that the promise was made to a single father, but that it was made plurally to the fathers. Hence we must conclude, that the subsequent patriarchs were duly instructed by Abraham in this great mystery: otherwise, the promise would only have been made to a single patriarch. But, if the subsequent patriarchs were duly instructed from generation to generation, I see not how we are to avoid the conclusion, that the doctrine, with whatever degree of clearness, became the standard doctrine of the Levitical Church. Such a doctrine being revealed thus early, and afterward being more largely set forth by the Psalmist and by Isaiah, the obvious inference from it would be, that there was another life after the present: for, if the great Deliverer himself was to rise from the dead, how would he accomplish the first promise that he should completely triumph over the serpent, unless he likewise conferred immortality upon the faithful?
2. From the age of Patriarchism let us pass to the age of the Law: and here again we shall still find ourselves brought to the same inference.
The consecrated tent or tabernacle of the Hebrews contained two apartments, which were separated by a veil reaching from the top to the