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removed, the prohibition ceases ; and the offender is restored to the privileges of the covenant.
V. In addition however to the various statutes respecting legal impurity, the Israelites had an ordinance of high antiquity, by which holiness of heart and a consequent separation from the wicked were eminently shadowed out.
1. After God had been pleased to call Abraham from among the idolaters of Chaldea in order that he might become the father of a chosen people, he thought fit to institute the rite of Circumcision. This ordinance was to be the badge of the Lord's covenant with that patriarch and his posterity, separating them from all other nations, and couise, crating them as a peculiar, people to God. Abraham and his whole house were, in the first instance, to submit to it: and ever afterwards, through succeeding ages, all his male descendants were to be circumcised on the eighth day. By this ceremony, they entered into covenant with God: he pledging himself to be their king and protector, and they pledging themselves to be his special and obedient people.
(1.) But the rite was not exclusively ceremonial : on the contrary, it was of a sacramental nature; for it was an outward visible sign, which represented a certain inward invisible grace. This is abundantly manifest from the language held even under the Law itself.
What doth the Lord thy God require of thee, O
! Gen. xvii. 1-14.
Israel, says the great lawgiver of the Hebrews, but to fear the Lord thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him; and to serve the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, to keep the commandments of the Lord and his statutes which I command thee this day for thy good. CIRCUMCISE THEREFORE THE FORESKIN OF YOUR HEART, and be no more stiff-necked.' And the Lord thy God will CIRCUMCISE THINE HEART and the heart of thy seed, to love the Lord thy God with all thine heart and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live.”
Here we are taught, that there is such a thing as the figurative circumcision of the heart: and this figurative circumcision, which its very name demonstrates to be shadowed out by the literal circumcision of the flesh, is defined to be that. predominating love of God which evinces its reality by the sure test of obedience.
(2.) The outward sign however, in the Levitical sacrament of circumcision, might subsist without the inward grace: that is to say, an Israelite might be circumcised in the flesh, while his heart all the while remained uncircumcised. This again was the doctrine of the Law long before the promulgation of the Gospel.
If, says the Lord by the mouth of his servant Moses, they shall confess their iniquity and the iniquity of their fathers with their trespass which they have trespassed against me, and that also they
Deut. x. 12, 13, 16.
Deut. xxx. 6.
have walked contrary to me, and that I also have walked contrary to them and have brought them into the land of their enemies : if then their úrCIRCUMCISED HEART be humbled, and they then accept of the punishment of their iniquity ; then will I remember my covenant with Jacob, and also my covenant with Isaac, and also my covenant with Abraham.' Behold, says the prophet Jeremiah, their EAR IS UNCIRCUMCISED, and they cannot hearken: behold, the word of the Lord is untó them a reproach ; they have no delight in it. Be hold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will punish all them which are circumcised with the uncircumcised ; Egypt, and Judah, and Edom, and the children of Ammon, and Moab, and all that are in the utmost corners that dwell in the wilderness : for all these nations are uncircumcised; and all the house of Israel are unCIRCUMCISED IN THE HEART.
Here we are plainly taught, that circumcision of the heart was not inseparably connected with circumcision of the flesh. The outward sign might, and often did, subsist without the inward grace : for the rebellious Israelites, although duly circumcised in the flesh, are yet pronounced to remain uncircumcised in the heart.
(3.) This view, which the writers of the Old Testament take of circumcision, both with regard to its sacramental nature and with regard to the
" Levit. yi. 40, 41, 42.
2 Jerem. vi. 10. 3 Jerem. ix. 25, 26.
separability of the sign from the thing signified, is taken also by the writers of the New Testament.
Ye stiff-necked and UNCIRCUMCISED IN HEART AND EARS, says Stephen to the Jewish council, every member of which had been regularly circumcised in the flesh; ye do always resist the Holy Ghost.: as your fathers did, so do ye.' Circumcision, says St. Paul, verily profiteth, if thou keep the Law: but, if thou be a breaker of the Law, thy circumcision is made unCIRCUMCISION.
For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: but he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, whose praise is not of men but of God.
2. The renovation of soul, shadowed out by circumcision, was rendered necessary by the fall of Adam : for, as all the posterity of Adam through him fell away from God, it was impossible that they could return to God except by recovering wliat they had lost. Hence, in the very nature of things, this renovation of soul was indispensable previous to the institution of its outward sign cir.cumcision : and hence, on the same ground, it is equally indispensable under the Christian dispensation, in which the outward sign of circumcision is not received.
(1.) Our Lord, accordingly, speaks of the absolute necessity of what he terms a regeneration or a new birth : and, as a symbolical representation
Acts vii. 51.
? Rom. ii. 25, 28, 29.
of this great inward change, he was pleased to institute that outward washing of the flesh which bears the name of baptism. Regeneration then, in the phraseology of the Gospel, is evidently the same as circumcision of the heart, in the phraseology of the Law. Whence, as baptism is the outward sign of regeneration, and as circumcision in the flesh is the outward sign of circumcision of the heart; external baptism, as used in the Christian Church, must undoubtedly be the antitype of external circumcision, as used in the Levitical Church. And such, accordingly, we find it to be expressly declared.
We are the circumcision, says St. Paul of himself and regenerated Christians, 'which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.' In Christ also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ : buried with him in baptism, wherein also you are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God who hath raised him from the dead. And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses.”
(2.) Since then spiritual regeneration under the Gospel is the same as circumcision of the heart under the Law, and since the internal change of the human soul must always be essentially of one