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is certain that Jesus Christ doth not carry the origin of it higher than the time of the Patriarchs”. However it be, circumcision was a sign and mark whereby God was willing to distinguish a people, with whom he had made a covenant, and out of which the Messiah was to be born, from all the other nations of the world. It was also a kind of a memorial for the posterity of Abraham, which should continually set before their eyes the covenant God had made with that Patriarch, as well as his faith and obedience. It was, in short, the seal of Abraham's justification. For it is to be observed, that, according to St. Paul', this father of the faithful having been justified, whilst he was yet uncircumcised, he was not so by virtue of his circumcision, which was only a sign of his justification. This is what the Jews did not duly attend to. Instead of imitating the faith and piety of their father Abraham, they fancied that they could be justified through circumcision", and even boasted of this pretended privilege', instead of being thereby excited to follow his example, as Jesus Christ tells them they ought to have done'.

When God delivered his law to the children of Israel, he renewed the ordinance of circumcision, and it became a sacrament of the Jewish religion. For which reason St. Stephen calls it the covenant of circumcision" ; and upon

this account Jesus Christ says, that Moses instituted circumcision, though it came from the Patriarchs". Besides the design which God proposed to himself in establishing this ceremony, he appointed it for some other ends, suited to the circumstances of the people of Israel. 1. It included in it so solemn and indispensable an obligation to observe the whole law, that circumcision did not profit those who transgressed it". Hence the Jewish religion is often styled in scripture the circumcision', and the Jews those of the circumcision.

(p) John vii. 22. (a) Rom. iv. 11. (1) Acts xv. 1. (8) Rom. ii. 25. (1) John viii. 39. (u) Acts vii. 8. (x) John vii. 22. (y) Rom. ii. 25. (2) Rom. iii. 1. 30. Gal. ii. 7.

(a) And thus we find Jesus Christ called the minister of circumcision, Acts x. 45.

For which reason St. Paul says, that whoever is circumcised, is bound to keep the whole law; and upon this account, to be circumcised, and to keep the law, are parallel expressions'. 2. This was a ceremony whereby not only the Jews, but also all strangers, were to be initiated into the Jewish religion, and without which none could be admitted into the body of the nationa. No uncircumcised person was allowed to celebrate any of the festivals, and the passover in particular. We read in the book of Esther, that great numbers of the Gentiles became Jews. This the seventy have rendered thus, they were circumcised and judaised, or turned Jews.", which shews that it was by circumcision men were admitted into the Jewish religion. * Such of the children of Israel as were born in the wilderness having remained uncircumcised, Joshua ordered that this ceremony should be performed upon them before they were brought into the land of promise ; whereupon God told them he had removed, or rolled away the reproach of Egypt from off them; that is, they should thenceforward be looked upon as the people of God, and no longer as the slaves of Egypt. To this St. Paul undoubtedly alluded, when he said to those Ephesian gentiles that had embraced Christianity, that while they were in uncircumcision, they were excluded out of the commonwealth of Israel. 3. Circumcision was an open profession of the worship of the true God, and also at the same time a kind of abjuring of idolatry. For which reason, during the persecution of Antiochus, the heathens put those women to death that caused their children to be circumcised “.; and such Jews as turned

pagans

took

away, as much as possible, all marks of circumcision. As circumcision was an open profession of the Jewish religion, some of

(6) Gal. v. 3. (c) Acts xv. 5. (d) Gen. xvii. 10-14.

Esther iii. 17. (f) Περιετέμοντο και ουδάϊζον. * For which reason the newly circumcised child was called the bridegroom, because he then was, as it were, married to God and his church.

(9) Josh. v. 4, 5, 6, 9. (h) 1 Mac. i. 63. Jos. Antiq. xii. 7.

those Jews that embraced Christianity, thought that this superstition ought to be retained, especially among those that were of Jewish extraction. But St. Paul expressly forbids it. Lastly, circumcision was appointed for mystical and moral reasons. It was, as well as baptism", a token of purity and holiness of life. Hence these expressions, to circumcise the fore-skin of the heart, the circumcision of the heart, the circumcision made without hands'. It is plain from an excellent passage of Philo, that the Jews were not ignorant of this mystery". The chief particulars to be observed with relation to circumcision, are as follow : 1. The law had ordered that every male-child should be circumcised the eighth day". The reason why it was fixed to that time, undoubtedly was because it could not legally be done sooner', for the mother of every man-child being unclean for the seven first days after her delivery, the child was consequently so too. They were not, on the other hand, to do it later, because the new-born infant could not be too soon consecrated to God. The Jews took such particular care to do it exactly on that day, that they never neglected it, even though it happened on a sabbath-day, as Jesus CHRIST observed to them when they found fault with him for having healed a man on that day. This they termed driving away the Sabbath.

When they were any way compelled to perform circumcision either sooner or later, they looked

upon it as a misfortune, and did not reckon such a circumcision so good as that which was done the eighth day. And when this ceremony was put off, it never was used to drive away the sabbath. This is the reason why we find St. Paul accounting it no small privilege to have been circumcised the eighth day?, as we have observed on that place. Accordingly Jesus

(1) 1 Cor. vii. 18. (k) 1 Pet. iii. 21. (1) Deut. x. 16. xxx. 6. Jer. iv. 4. Rom. ii. 29. Colos. ii. 11. Acts vii. 51. (m) Philo de circumc.

+ Including the day in which he was born, and that in which he was circumcised.

(n) Gen. xvii. 12. (0) Levit. xii. 3. (p) John vii. 22, 23. (9) Philip. iii, 5.

Christ and John the Baptist were circumcised exactly upon it. 2. It is evident from the gospel that it was usual to name the child the day he was circumcised, since John the Baptist and Jesus CHRIST, were named upon the performance of this ceremony. We learn from the same history, that it was commonly the father, or some near relation, that gave the name. 3. Circumcision was reckoned so absolutely necessary, that it could be done in any place, in private houses, as well as in the synagogues; and by all sorts of persons, provided they were Jews, and qualified for it. There was notwithstanding a man appointed for this employment, who did it in the presence of several witnesses, that the initiation might be more solemn and authentic. 4. It is not well known, whether it was the custom, in the time of JESUS CHRIST, that the child should have a God-mother that brought him to the door of the synagogue, and no farther, because she was not allowed to go in, and a Godfather that held him during the ceremony. accompanied with prayers and vows, and before and after it there were great rejoicings.

As necessary as circumcision was while the ceremonial law remained in force, it became as indifferent and unnecessary upon the abrogating of that law by the destruction of the temple. Till that time the apostles allowed the Jews converted to Christianity, the use of it, but they expressly ordered that this yoke should not be put upon the necks of the Gentile converts. And therefore St. Paul, who hath fully proved how unprofitable and unnecessary it is", and who makes it consist only in regeneration, of which it was a figure', thought it however, proper to have Timothy circumcisedt, because his mother was of Jewish extraction"; and would not, on the other hand, suffer this ceremony to be performed on Titus, because he was a Greek". Wherein this apostle hath given the church in all ages a most excellent pattern,

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those Jews that embraced Christianity, thought that this superstition ought to be retained, especially among those that were of Jewish extraction. But St. Paul expressly forbids it. Lastly, circumcision was appointed for mystical and moral reasons. It was, as well as baptism", a token of purity and holiness of life. Hence these expressions, to circumcise the fore-skin of the heart, the circumcision of the heart, the circumcision made without hands'. It is plain from an excellent passage of Philo, that the Jews were not ignorant of this mystery". The chief particulars to be observed with relation to circumcision, are as follow : 1. The law had ordered that male-child should be circumcised the eighth day". The reason why it was fixed to that time, undoubtedly was because it could not legally be done sooner', for the mother of every man-child being unclean for the seven first days after her delivery, the child was consequently so too. They were not, on the other hand, to do it later, because the new-born infant could not be too soon consecrated to God. The Jews took such particular care to do it exactly on that day, that they never neglected it, even though it happened on a sabbath-day, as Jesus Christ observed to them when they found fault with him for having healed a man on that day". This they termed driving away the Sabbath.

When they were any way compelled to perform circumcision either sooner or later, they looked upon it as a misfortune, and did not reckon such a circumcision so good as that which was done the eighth day. And when this ceremony was put off, it never was used to drive away the sabbath. This is the reason why we find St. Paul accounting it no small privilege to have been circumcised the eighth day!, as we have observed on that place. Accordingly Jesus

(1) 1 Cor. vii. 18. (k) 1 Pet. iii. 21. (1) Deut. x. 16. xxx. 6. Jer. iv. 4. Rom. ii. 29. Colos. ii. 11. Acts vii. 51. (m) Philo de circumc.

+ Including the day in which he was born, and that in which he was circumcised.

(n) Gen. xvii. 12. (0) Levit. xii. 3. (p) John vii. 22, 23. (9) Philip. iii, 5.

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