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the Elohim are represented in scripture to be the agents or doers of that action, certainly it can be no diminution of the divine perfections for God to be called by a name expressive of that action, for the name only expresses, what all the scriptures bear witness of, that he had done. And as the action was an instance of the greatest mercy which God could shew to his fallen creatures, surely that mercy was heightened by revealing himself to them under that merciful name.
It being then consistent with the divine perfections to enter into a covenant, and be under an obligation to the performance of it--and there being but one verb in the language from whence the word Elohim can be derived and
the certain meaning of that verb being to lie under the obligation of an oath to the performance of some covenant; therefore it is evident, this is the idea of the word And that the covenant which it expresses was the gospel covenant is manifest, from the reason of the thing, which proved the relation expressed by this word, could be no other but that of redemption;* and from the usage of the word in scripture, where it is frequently confined to this sense; † and from there being no mention in scripture, that any other but the gospel-covenant was revealed since the fall of man.
And therefore, when the word is applied to the persons of the divine essence, it represents them as under an obligation, which they voluntarily entered into, to perform the gospel-covenant, and save their fallen depraved creatures and upon this sense of the word, the sanctions of temporal rewards and punishments could be established : for when God promulges his laws, and requires obedience of the Jews
* Psalm lxxviii. 22. Isa. xlv. 21. Hos. xiii. 4. S vi. 6. Judges x. 14. Jer. ij. 28.
+ To save, to redeem, deliver, being generally attributed to the Elobim, Psalm iii. 3. “ many say of my soul, there is no salvation for it in * the Elohim, Selah,” mind this. Heb. xi. 16. “ Wherefore God is " not ashamed to be called their God, because he hath prepared for " them an (heavenly) city." Here the reason given why God called himself their God, demonstrates that the word Elohim relates to, and is expressive of, the gospel-covenant.
upon this sanction--because I, Jehovah am your God, the obligation expressed in these words is this :
“ That system of laws which I have given you, ye “ are to remember to keep and obey; for your all de“pends upon your obedience-It is obedience which “ secures you of my protection here-But what the
system of laws I have now given you, chiefly aims at “ is, my protection hereafter; and therefore, in order to
gain your obedience, I have enforced my laws upon “ this stronger sanction- I have made your title to the “ benefits of redemption, depend on your believing and “ obeying what I have required-You are convinced, " that the persons of the divine essence have covenant“ed to redeem you from sin and death-This they “ cannot do for you here—These spiritual benefits of redemption must be conferred in a future state you will not receive
of these benefits in that “ state, unless you believe and do in this, what I have
9. And this interpretation, which is drawn from the reason of the thing and the express meaning of the words, is fully justified by Christ's argument in the text. Our Saviour there asserts, that the term Elohim (for this is the word in the text he quotes, Exod. m. 6.) is a term of relation: and it is expressive of some beneficent relation, because he says it respects God," not “ the God of the dead, but as the God of the living." Now the living, whom this word respects, cannot be the persons who live in the present world, because God still stood in that beneficent relation to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, when they were dead; from whence our Saviour infers-that the covenant expressed by this word, and the blessings flowing from it, must respect a future life; for if, in consequence of this covenant, the bodies of these patriarchs were to be raised from the dead, then the covenant must relate to a future life-Butin consequence of this covenant, the bodies of these patriarchs were to be raised from the dead, because God is not the God (the Elohim) of the dead, but of the liv.
ing; and consequently as the covenant relates to the resurrection of the dead, so must the sanction founded upon
that covenant. But since our Saviour hath produced an authority from Moses, to prove that he taught the resurrection of the dead, upon which very authority, Moses hath enforced the sanctions of all his laws: this therefore being such an infallible proof, what these sanctions were, demands a more particular consideration; and the state of the case is this:
The Sadducees, which say there is no resurrection, come to Christ--they propose a difficulty to him from the law of Moses, which they could not solve upon the supposition of a resurrection—and they desire that Christ, who preached the doctrine of the resurrection, and said he came to fulfil the law of Moses, would reconcile this difficulty with that doctrine—Christ's answer consists of two parts—first, a solution of the difficulty; and then a proof, that the difficulty they proposed, was founded on a great error, viz. that Moses had not treated of the resurrection of the dead : and this proof he introduces in a very remarkable manner _“Ye Sadducees deny that there is any resurrection; " but concerning the resurrection of the dead that they “ rise,” I can give you a satisfactory proof out of your own prophet: “ for have ye not read in the book of “ Moses, and hath not he shewed you that the dead
are to be raised, when he calleth the Lord, the God “ of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of “ Jacob? For he is not the God of the dead, but the “ God of the living; ye therefore do greatly err.” And the sacred historian remarks upon this answer, “ that when the multitude heard it, they were astonish" ed at his doctrine; and that the Sadducees, the de“niers of the resurrection, were put to silence."
From this fair and impartial state of the case then, it is evident, that Christ did intend to prove from the text he quotes, that Moses had treated of the resurrection of the dead. The difficulty which the Sadducees proposed, was an objection against the resurrection ; and as Christ's answer cannot but be to the
it must be an argument for the truth of this doctrine. Now the exordium to this proof sets forth, that the resurrection was taught in the book of Moses--the proof is a text from that book of Moses, wherein it was taught--and therefore the exordium must directly refer to this proof, and nothing else.* And what can be a direct introduction to a proof, if this be not? Have ye not read concerning the resurrection of the dead in the book of Moses? And then immediately follows the proof which they might have read concerning the resurrection. Can any words more plainly declare, that the resurrection of the dead was taught in the books of Moses, and that this particular text was a proof of it?
But if the design of Christ's argument was to prove, that Moses had shewed the dead were to be raised, wherein lies the conclusiveness of it? To be the God or Elohim of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, it was before proved was to stand related to them under the character of Redeemer, and particularly to be under a covenant to redeem them from sin and death: for redemption could not regard fallen man in any other respect than as a sinner, and as liable to the punishment of sin. Now it was impossible that God, who had represented. himself to them, as under a covenant, should lie-And yet all these patriarchs suffered death, the punishment of sin; and whilst their bodies continued in the
grave, they had not received the benefit of God's being under such a covenant, because by that covenant, man was to be redeemed from sin and death; but whilst death reigned over the patriarchs, they had not received that redemption ; and therefore, since that redemption was not effected and completed in this world, of necessity there must be another world, in which their bodies will be raised to life and immortality. *
* Corn, á Lapide, Ludg. 1638, 1 vol. p. 409, 410. Ego sum Deus Abrahæ, &c. Christus non contentus solvisse Sadducæorum objectionem contra resurrectionem insuper eandem illis probat ex dicto Dei ad Mosen, ego sum Deus Abrahæ, &c. § Dr. Stanhope's Ep. & Gosp. 30. vol. p. 425. “ The force of this argument there is no room to doubt,
after our blessed Lord himself hath made use of it to confute the * Sadducees' error, and to prove a resurrection.”
And besides, even when these patriarchs were dead, God still stood in that beneficent relation to them which the word Elohim expresses—Now that beneficent relation doth not respect mankind as dead, but as livingGod is not the God of the dead-He is not the Elohim of those who are to lie for ever under the power of death-He cannot be said to stand in any beneficent relation to them; for a beneficent relation regards them who are sensible of God; but they cannot be sensible of it over whom death reigneth for ever. The living, the living only are sensible of good, and God is the God of the living; and yet, if the patriarehs be dead for ever, he cannot be the God of the living. Whilst their bodies continue in the grave—they are dead : but he hath covenanted not to be the God of the dead; their bodies therefore must rise from the dead before he can fulfil the gospel covenant-He must raise them up unto a future life, before he can be what his name Elohim imports : for he cannot act up to, and complete that beneficent relation which he stands in to them, until their bodies be raised from the dead. Then shall they be of the number of those happy living, who will praise him indeed, when feeling the blessed effects of that beneficent relation, they shall have a conviction from sense, which we now can have only from faithThat God is not the God of the dead, but of the living
Christ then, who is an infallible interpreter of Moses, asserts, that Moses hath treated of the resurrection of the dead-He brings an argument from Moses to prove
* Th. Cartwright, Harmonia Evang. Ludg. 1647, p. 799. Ego sum Deus Abrahæ, Deus Isaaci, & Deus Jacobi. Non potest autum fæderatus Deus esse eorum qui mortui non existunt amplius ; est igitur vivorum, idque, non animabus modo, sed, quia Deo omnia præsentia sunt corporibus suo tempore excitandis. F. Jllyrici Gloss. in 4 Evang. Basil, 1570, p. 97. Esse Deum alicujus, tum salvificam opem Dei erga illum, &c.