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That several institutions of the Sinai covenant had respect to actions, and things, which ordinarily come

under the description of civil, such as judgment upon ; trespass, the partition of property, the fulfilment of con

tracts, &c. is not to be disputed. But it will not follow, that these were civil institutions, in a sense distinct from religious. Nor is there any propriety in apply. ing the term civil to them. This is not a term which the scripture has appropriated, as descriptive of any of its institutions or duties. We may as well say, that Arbitrators and Deacons, of the primitive Christian Church, were civil officers, as to say, that the judges in Israel were such. We may as well say, that the charitable proġision, which was made by the Christian Church, for its poor, or its ministers, was a civil establishment; as to say, that the payment of tythes, and the offerings of the tabernacle, were a tax upon the subject, to support the authority of God, as a temporal sovereign.

If an economy, which, in a subordinate view, partly respects secular objects, be on that account civil; the Christian Church is certainly a civil insitution. If, for this reason, the Hebrew Community was a The ocracy; the Christian Church is undoubtedly a Theocracy. Were this all that is intended by representing the Sinai covenant, as in whole, or in part, a civil institution, there would be no dispute ; for every man must be left at liberty to use his own words. The business of the Author, in this case, would be merely with the critic. But the use of terms and the representations given, in those treatises, to which we have respect, are such as to make the Sinai Covenant, in whole, or in part, a mere civil institution, in a sense opposite to religion. Obedience was required, say these treatises and accepted, which had notits foundation in real piety. The Hebrew Community (say they) was a Commori

. wealth. God placed himself at the head of it, as its king. The priesthood formed his court. The tabernacle was his palace. The tithes, offerings, and expiations, were his revenue. He made war and peace, like other mon

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archs of the earth, And he subjected the disorderly to corporal punishments, and temporal death, exactly in a manner, and on principles, resembling the penal codes, of civil governments generally. Thus the late Dr. John Erskine, in his Dissertation, upon the Nature of the Sinai Covenant, tells us, Theolog. Dissertations,

“ To Israel pertained the covenants, not the covenant of grace only, but another covenant, expressly distinguished from it (he means the Sinai Covenant) in virtue of which, many, destitute of inward piety, and no way interested in the covenant of grace, yet had a just title to another kind of covenant blessings.” By this covenant, he says, page 3, “God, as monarch of the Jewish Nation, promised them a long, and prosperous possession of Canaan, on condition of their external obedience, to a variety of laws, precepts, and judgments." He says, same page,

"Obedience to these laws was never designed to entitle to heavenly and spiritual blessings.” In page 4, he says, “It is how. ever necessary to observe, that God entered into that covenant, under the character of king of Israel. He is termed so in scripture ; and he acted as such, disposed of offices, made war and peace, exacted tribute, enacted laws, punished with death, such of that people as refused him allegiance, and defended his subjects from their enemies.” Page 5.“There in the Sinai covenant) he appeared chiefly as a temporal Prince, and therefore gave laws, intended rather to direct the outward conduct; than to regulate the heart.” Hence he is constrained to say, page 6. “The fidelity and allegiance of the the Jews was secured, not by bestowing the influences of the Holy Spirit, necessary to produce faith and love ; but barely by external displays of majesty, and greatness, calculated to promote a slavish subjection, rath. er than a cheerful filial obedience." This theory leads bim to the following mean idea of the Israelites, even when obedient to the Sinai law. " A fit emblem of the Sinai covenant, in which the Jews were hired, by the prosperous possession of the land of Canaan, to perform a variety of slavish, burdensome services; if they

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did the work they were only to expect the wages.”_ Page 24. “ Neither the law of nature, nor the covepant of grace, but the Sinai covenant alone, placed men in the relation of mercenary slaves.

Mr. Locke had given an account of the community of Israel, in his Letters on Toleration, which nearly corresponds with this.

“ As to the case (says he) of the Israelites in the Jewish commonwealth ; who, being initiated into the Mosaical rites, and made citizens of the commonwealth, did afterwards apostatize from the worship of the God of Israel ; these were proceeds ed against as rebels and traitors, guilty of no less than high treason. For the commonwealth of the Jews, different in that from all others, was an absolute Thes öcracy. Nor was there, nor could there be, any difference between the Commonwealth and the Church. The laws established there, concerning the worship of the one invisible Deity, were the civil laws of that people, and a part of their political government, in which God himself was the Legislator. *" Here we have the Church of Israel fairly transformed into a mere civil Commonwealth.

Dr. Gill attempts to rid himself of the argument drawn from the fact, of the membership of infants, in the Israelitish Church, by the same pretence. covenant of Horeb, was indeed a national covenant, and took in all, children, and grown persons; and which was no other than a civil contract, and not a covenant of grace, between God and the people of Israel, he as king, they as subjects; he promising to be their Protector and Defender; and they to be his faithful subjects, and to obey his laws.”+ Lowman, Witsius, Warburton, and several other modern writers, of great reputation, have given a similar view of this society. These quotations however, must serve as a specimen of the general theory.

Bishop Warburton says, Mr, Locke was the first man who fell upon this in. vention. It is certainly a pity he was not the last.

t. Gill's Reply to Clark, page 37. The Doctor did not consider that infants were included in this society, long before the covenant of Sinai was introu duced.


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That there is some resemblance between the institu; tions of the Sinai covenant, and those of ordinary civil governments, though this resemblance is certainly remote, will not be denied ; and whether some things might not have been ordained, out of respect to the existing institutions of those governments, we shall not pretend to say. But one would think, the simple consideration of the moral nature and end of mere civil establishments, quite sufficient to prove, that a system of duty proceeding from God, could not come under this description.

To prepare, the way for the refutation of this theory, it may be proper to make two or three preliminary remarks.

1. We are not to judge of the nature of the Sinai covenant, by what' was, in fact, the character of the people, under the first institution of the covenant, or at any period afterwards, till it was abolished ; any more than we are to judge of the Gospel from the actual character of its professors. A million of hypocrites will not prove, that the institution was calcu. lated to promote hypocrisy, or to make it an acceptable service when exhibited. Let it be remarked again,

2. That the institutions upon which a society is founded,cannot be judged of by any new modifications, which that society may, in subsequent periods, assume. These modifications may arise out of incidental causes, and be an abuse of the institution. A regal gov. ernment was introduced into the community of Israel; but this was a departure from the institution ; not a character of it.

3. It has been already proved, that the covenant of circumcision was the constitutional basis of the community of Israel ; that the principle of this covenant was a spiritual obedience to God, as God; that its promises were absolute ; and embraced that good, and that only, which grace secures to the saved; and that the relation which it formed between God, and its subjects, was spiritual, and indissolvable. If then, it could be proved, that the institutions of the Sinai covenant, its relations, duties, rewards, and penalties, were, in part,or altogether, civil; this would do nothing towards proving the discontinuance, or transformation of the Society, which was founded in the Abrahamic covenant, and which consisted of the seed. For then these institutions, and the society formed by them, would be merely superinduced and adventitious; like the putting on of an exterior garment, which neither destroys, nor alters the wearer. When these in stitutions are withdrawn, as it is conceded the Sinai covenant was, at the coming of Christ ; the original society will be left just what it was before this superinduction was made. But there is an offensive incongruity in this, imperium super imperium, this double sort of society; especially when the Pentateuch, and the following history present one society only, and that of the simplest construction..

No doubt this theory is the product of human in. genuity ; and not a work of the wise and immutable Builder of the Universe. Let us see if this cannot be eyinced.

It has been proved, that the promises of the Sinai covenant terminate in the same good, in which the promises of the Abrahamic covenant terminate. It has also been proved, that the curse of the Sinai covenant, terminates in evil, entirely distinguishable from the dissolution of the body, and beyond any thing experienced in this life. This must be the punishment which the scriptures generally denounce against final impenitents. If then, it can be made to appear, that the law, which constitutes the radical principle of this covenant, required inward piety, and accepted of nothing, as obedience, which did not result from uprightness of heart ; it will undeniably follow, that the Sinai covenant was purely a religious, and not at all a civil, or mere temporal institution. It will follow also, that if the Hebrew community was, in whole, or in part, irreligious, hypocritical, or carnal, it was because they were disobedient to the covenant, and not because they followed its directions.

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