The Marrow of Modern Divinity is a 17th Century work that teaches concerning God’s Eternal Plan to redeem a people to his name to the praise of His grace. The work is set as a discussion between a legalist and a libertine about the role of the law in the life of a believer. An Evangelist happens along who is able to put the law in it’s proper perspective, as it relates to the salvation of men. Chapter 2 of the book covers God’s Plan of Salvation, purposed within Himself in Eternity Past, revealed in various stages through Biblical history, beginning with Genesis 3:15, and finally completed in His Son – Jesus Christ. God’s Plan of Salvation of mankind is commonly referred to by theologians as the Covenant (or Plan) of Grace; or the Gospel. Chapter 2 of the Marrow covers the Gospel outlined as follows: Gospel 1) Purposed, 2) Promised, and 3) Provided.
In part 1 of this review, we looked at God’s Purposing of Grace in the Everlasting Covenant (as Spurgeon called it). In the second post, we looked at the gospel promised to Adam in seed form in Genesis 3. In this post, we’ll see how the gospel was preached to Father Abraham.
Promise of the Gospel to Abraham
After Evangelist finished teaching the men concerning the first proclamation of the gospel to Adam, the men ask Evangelist to go on explaining how the gospel message was revealed by fuller measure throughout the Old Testament.
Why, then, the promise was turned into a covenant with Abraham and his seed, and oftentimes repeated, that in his seed all nations should be blessed, (Gen 12:3, 18:18, 22:18); which promise and covenant was the very voice itself of the gospel, it being a true testimony of Jesus Christ; as the apostle Paul beareth witness, saying, The Scripture foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles through faith, preached before the Gospel unto Abraham, (Gal 3:8), saying, “In thee shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.”
Says Thomas Boston, regarding this exchange:
When that promise or covenant [Adamic] …was renewed, Abraham and his seed were designed expressly therein; and so it became a covenant with Abraham and his seed. And the promise being still the same as to the substance of it, was often repeated, and in the repetition more fully and clearly opened. So Jesus Christ, revealed to Adam only as the seed of the woman, was thereafter revealed to Abraham as Abraham’s own seed; and thus was it believed and embraced unto salvation in the various revelations thereof.
The Promise to be Fulfilled in Christ
Nomista asks a follow-up question, and Evangelist continues…
Nom. But, sir, are you sure that this promised seed was meant of Christ?
Evan. The apostle puts that out of doubt, (Gal 3:16), saying, “Now unto Abraham and to his seed were the promises made. He says not—and to seeds, as of many, but as of one, and to thy seed, which is Christ.” And so no doubt but these godly patriarchs did understand it.
Boston footnotes this exchange in this way:
That is, Christ mystical, Christ and the Church, the head and the members; yet so as the dignity of the head being still reserved—he is to be understood here primarily, which is sufficient for our author’s purposes; and his members secondarily only.
To understand why Pastor Boston refers to Christ and his church comprehended as the seed, let us remember that Paul, after having identified Christ as the seed of Abraham in Gal 3:16, goes on to say in Gal 3:29 – “And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” – ‘Ye’ being the church.
The Promise to Abraham is the Gospel
The promise to Abraham, of course, was a people and a land (see my earlier, yet uncompleted, posts on the Abrahamic Promises, as fulfilled in Christ), yet, Jesus himself interprets what was revealed to Abraham, at least in part, was the very gospel in seed form:
- “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.” (John 8:56)
- “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.” (Gal 3:7-9)
Did Abraham understand about the coming Christ?
Were those promises to Abraham verily the gospel?
Of course, to Abraham was not revealed the gospel in all its richness and fullness as we know it today, and yet, in a very powerful and real way, Abraham had a vivid testimony of the work that God was going to do.
- Melchisedec – a Theophany or (more likely) a ‘type’ of Christ (Gen 14:19, Jer 23:6, Is 9:6, Heb 6:20, 7:1-3)
- Blood Covenant – Genesis 15
— sacrifice typifies the torment of Christ
— furnace and lamp typify the wrath of God
- Offering up of Isaac – prefigures Christ’s sacrifice as Only-Begotten
Melchisedec was unto Abraham a type, to confirm him in the faith, that he and his believing seed should be as really blessed in Christ, as he was blessed by Melchisedec.
Abrahamic Promise Passed to Posterity
The promise was renewed with Isaac (Gen 26:3-5,24) and to Jacob (Gen 27:28-29, 28:14-15). And Jacob, left it by his last will unto his children in these words, “The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, till Shiloh come,” (Gen 49:10); ‘that is to say, of Judah shall kings come one after another, and many in number, till at last the Lord Jesus come, who is King of kings, and Lord of lords; or, as the Targum of Jerusalem and Onkelos do translate it, until Christ the Anointed come.’