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The God of the hidden Period.
And Abraham planted a grove at Beersheba, and he called there on the name of Jehovah (El-Olam) the God of the hidden period. Gen. xxi. 95.
IN the early ages, Jehovah revealed himself to
mankind under various appellations; which appellations were all relative, and, in a way, met the situation of those to whom they were severally disclosed. These gave rise to expectations, the objects of which were firmly believed in, and had a mighty influence over the life. Thus to Abraham, after he had obtained a victory, and brought back the subjects of the king of Sodom that had been carried away captive; after he had rejected the offer of the goods of these captives, because he had lifted up his hand to the mighty Possessor of heaven and earth, that he would take nothing, the Lord appeared, and bid him not to fear, for that he would be his shield and exceeding great reward. Thus with the same patriarch, when he was now within one year of an hundred, and when all prospect of offspring seemed entirely cut off, God, to prevent his staggering at the promise that he was just going to make him, began
by telling him that he was (El-Shaddai) God allsufficient. This all-sufficiency he pledges to the accomplishment of things, which to Abraham might appear so difficult as nearly to imply an impossibility that he should be the father of a multitude of nations. Thus in the very same way by another appellation, he meets that natural terror so apt to rise in the mind at the thought of what that duration might be, over which death draws a veil; and which, on account of its being entirely unknown to mankind, was by the Hebrews termed Qlam, or hidden; and he calls himself, as forming here the rock of their trust, the God of that period, i. e. that even that dark unknown should not separate them from him. So in Isaiah 40-28 he is termed not only the creator of the ends of the earth, as having to do with man in his mortal state, but also the (Elohe-Olam) the God of the hidden duration, as extending his care to the departed spirits, who are still represented as waiting for him. To prevent all doubting, he brought himself under a solemn engagement to that purpose, and to which he gave the name of the engagement Gen.17.7 of the hidden period (Berith-Olam); and as farther Gen. 17.7 exegetical of this, Jehovah adds immediately after, to be to thee for a God, and to thy seed after thee." Now as all this is expressed as a future deed, it is upon it that the antient Hebrews raised the observation, "that God is not in the most
eminent sense called the God of any one, while he is in a state of mortality." Now this covenant, from its very name, involves in it the intermediate state, and the resurrection, when Abraham and his descendants were no longer visible to earth; and when they, as we learn from Christ, were existing, according to the spirit, and living unto God. HebbThis St. Paul plainly expresses, when he says that
Jehovah is their God, in that exclusive and appropriate way, as to have them entirely to himself as a holy nation, in that place which he hath prepared for them. In the apostle's view, his being to be at some future period their God, entirely excludes earth; and is, by the reason he assigns, limited only to that city which at death receives their departed spirits. The circumstance of his not being ashamed of them to be called their God, implies such a situation as this, for on earth he has always reason to be ashamed of them, as a stupid, dull, and stiff-necked people. How oft did Abraham mistrust his protection? even Moses spake unadvisedly with his lips. Isaiah confessed that he was a man of unclean lips, and dwelling among a people of unclean lips. Here he has to "chastise them with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men," but there his laws are in their hearts, and correction has no place.
This is the very view which Christ himself exhibits in that passage of the Pentateuch, which had been
been so much overlooked by the Sadducees, as containing a proof both of the present subsisting of the soul, and of the future resurrection of the body. "I am the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac," I am the God of their hidden period or secret state of existence. Disappeared from mortal view, their souls are still in the secret place of Jehovah. This Christ virtually expresses, when he says, they all live unto him; that is, every particle of their existence (which is never the case in this world) being entirely devoted unto him. Hence when to Abraham Canaan is promised, not simply, but as a possession (Olam) of the hidden period, his idea rose from earth to heaven. The country which he now has in his eye, is enobled by the epithet which is added, heavenly; and he cheerfully acquiesced to become a pilgrim here, while the hope was given him of being exalted to be a citizen in that city which God hath prepared for him.
In this act of invocation we may view Abrahami as pleading with God, the benefit of the discovery which he had condescended to make, and expressing his trust that Jehovah would, as he had promised, meet with him in that other world, and to whom in that state of existence his life was to be entirely devoted.
This engagement came to be termed the covenant (kodsho) not of his holiness, as in our version,
but the covenant of his separation, that is an agreement (which is decidedly explanatory of the original word) to take his people by death from among the nations of the earth, and to give them a deliverance from enemies, in order that they might serve him in holiness and righteousness. Of this glorious and perfect separation, there was exhibited an earthly reflexion in the separation of the children of Israel from the rest of the world, and giving them for their observance a distinct body of statutes and laws. The raising up the horn of salvation, or Messiah, was, according to Zechariah, "in remem2 brance of his mercy to Abraham and his seed, through the extent of the future age, and to shew mercy to our fathers." Nothing could have moved our translators to recede from the sense given in the vulgate version, and to intrude their own supplement, promised to, but the apprehension of giving somewhat of countenance to the limbus Patrum, in which these fathers were by some supposed to be. They saw plainly the sense of the words, "to exercise mercy with our fathers," but they could not digest the idea of the fathers being where they needed any mercy. They did not advert to this, that they, and others, in their state of separation, needed to be ransomed from the power of Sheol; and that as Origen and others had remarked upon the words, the benefits of Christ's death reached these spirits in the