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and so wrath was prevented from going forth in the full execution of that amazing curse that man had brought on himself.
It is manifest that Christ began to exercise the office of mediator between God and man as soon as ever man fell, because mercy began to be exercised towards man immediately. There was mercy in the forbearance of God, that he did not destroy him, as he did the angels when they fell. But there is no mercy exercised towards fallen man but through a mediator. If God had not in mercy restrained Satan, he would immediately have seized on his prey. Christ began to do the part of an intercessor for man as soon as he fell. There is no mercy exercised towards man but what is obtained through Christ's intercession; so that now Christ was entered on his work that he was to continue in throughout all ages of the world. From that day forward Christ took on him the care of the church of the elect; he took on him the care of fallen man in the exercise of all his offices; he undertook thenceforward to teach mankind in the exercise of his prophetical office; and also to intercede for fallen man in his priestly office; and he took on him, as it were, the care and burden of the government of the church, and of the world of mankind, from this day forward. He from that time took upon him the care of the defence of his elect church from all their enemies. When Satan, the grand enemy, had conquered and overthrown man, the business of resisting and conquering him was committed to Christ. He thenceforward undertook to manage that subtle powerful adversary. He was then appointed the Captain of the Lord's hosts, and the Captain of their salvation, and always acted as such thenceforward ; and so he appeared from time to time, and he will continue to act as such to the end of the world. Henceforward this lower world, with all its concerns, was, as it were, devolved upon the Son of God : for when man had sinned, God the Father would have no more to do with man immediately; he would no more have any immediate concern with this world of mankind, that had apostatized from, and rebelled against him. He would henceforward have no concern with man, but only through a mediator, either in teaching men, or in governing or bestowing any benefits on them.
And therefore, when we read in sacred history what God did from time to time towards his church and people, and what he said to them, and how he revealed himself to them, we are to understand it especially of the second person of the Trinity. When we read of God's appearing after the fall, from time to time in some visible form or outward symbol of his presence, we are ordinarily, if not universally, to understand it of the second person of the Trinity; which may be argued from John i. 18: “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.” He is therefore called “ the image of the invisible God,” Col. i. 15; intimating, that though God the Father be invisible, yet Christ is his image or representation, by which he is seen, or by which the Church of God hath often had a representation of him, that is not invisible, and in particular that Christ has after appeared in a human form.
Yea, not only was this lower world devolved on Christ, that he might have the care and government of it, and order it agreeably to his design of redemption, but also in some respect the whole universe. The angels from that time were committed to him, to be subject to him in his mediatorial office, to be ministering spirits to him in this affair; and accordingly were so from this time forward, as is manifest by the Scripture history, wherein we have accounts from time to time of their acting as ministering spirits in the affairs of the Church of Christ.
And therefore we may suppose, that immediately on the fall of man, it was made known in heaven among the angels, that God had a design of redemption with respect to fallen man, and that Christ had now taken upon him the office and work of a mediator between God and man, that they might know their business henceforward, which was to be subservient to Christ in this office, and as Christ, in this office, has since that, as God-man and Mediator, been solemnly exalted and installed the King of heaven, and is thenceforward as God-man, Mediator, the Light, and as it were, the Sun of heaven, agreeable to Rev. xxi. 23, “ And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it; for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof;" so this revelation that was made in heaven among the angels, of Christ's now having taken on him the office of a mediator between God and man, was as it were the first dawning of this light in heaven. When Christ ascended into heaven after his passion, and was solemnly installed in the throne, as King of heaven, then this sun rose in heaven, even the Lamb that is the light of the new Jerusalem But the light began to dawn immediately after the fall.
II. Presently upon this the gospel was first revealed on earth, in these words, Gen. iii. 15: “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed: it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” We must suppose, that God's intention of redeeming fallen men was first signified in heaven, before it was signified on earth, because the business of the angels as ministering spirits of the Mediator required it; for as soon as ever Christ had taken on him the work of a mediator, it was requisite that the angels should be ready immediately to be subservient to him in that office : so that the light first dawned in heaven; but very soon after the same was signified on earth. In those words of God there was an intimation of another surety to be appointed for man, after the first surety had failed. This was the first revelation of the covenant of grace; this was the first dawning of the light of the gospel on earth.
This lower world before the fall enjoyed noonday light; the light of the knowledge of God, the light of his glory, and the light of his favor. But when man fell, all this light was at once extinguished, and the world reduced back again to total darkness; a worse darkness than that which was in the beginning of the world, that we read of Gen. i. 2: “ And the earth was without form, and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep.” This was a darkness a thousand times more remediless than that. Neither men nor angels could find out any way whereby this darkness might be scattered. This darkness appeared in its blackness then, when Adam and his wife saw that they were naked, and sewed fig leaves, and when they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden, and hid themselves among the trees of the garden; and when God first called them to an account, and said to Adam, «What is this that thou hast done? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee, that thou shouldest not eat ?" Then we may suppose that their hearts were filled with shame and terror. But these words of God, Gen. iii. 15, were the first dawning of the light of the gospel after this darkness. Now first appeared some glimmering of light after this dismal darkness, which before this was without one glimpse of light, any beam of comfort, or any the least hope. It was an obscure revelation of the gospel; and was not made to Adam or Eve directly, but it was in what God said to the serpent. But yet it was very comprehensive, as might be easily shown would it not take up too much time.
Here was a certain intimation of a merciful design by“ the seed of the
woman,” which was like the first glimmerings of the light of the sun in the east when the day first dawns. This intimation of mercy was given them even before sentence was pronounced on either Adam or Eve, from tenderness to them to whom God designed mercy, lest they should be overborne with a sentence of condemnation, without having any thing held forth whence they could gather any hope.
One of those great things that were intended to be done by the work of redemption, is more plainly intimated here than the rest, viz., God's subduing his enemies under the feet of his Son. This was threatened now, and God's design of this was now first declared, which was the work Christ had now undertaken, and which he soon began, and carried on thenceforward, and will perfectly accomplish at the end of the world. Satan probably had triumphed greatly in the fall of man, as though he had defeated the designs of God in the creation of man and the world in general. But in these words God gives him a plain intimation, that he should not finally triumph, but that a complete victory and triumph should be obtained over him by the seed of the woman.
This revelation of the gospel in this verse was the first thing that Christ did in his prophetical office. You may remember, that it was said in the first of those three propositions that have been mentioned, that from the fall of man to the incarnation of Christ, God was doing those things that were preparatory to Christ's coming and working out redemption, and were forerunners and earnests of it. And one of those things which God did in this time to prepare the way for Christ's coming into the world, was to foretell and promise it, as he did from time to time, from age to age, till Christ came. This was the first promise that ever was given of it, the first prediction that ever was made of it on earth.
III. Soon after this, the custom of sacrificing was appointed, to be a standing type of the sacrifice of Christ till he should come, and offer up himself a sacrifice to God. Sacrificing was not a custom first established by the Leviti. cal law of Moses; for it had been a part of God's instituted worship long before, even from the beginning of God's visible church on earth. We read of the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, offering sacrifice, and before them Noah, and before him Abel. And this was by divine appointment ; for it was a part of God's worship in his church, that was offered up in faith, and that he accepted: which proves that it was by his institution ; for sacrificing is no part of natural worship. The light of nature doth not teach men to offer up beasts in sacrifice to God; and seeing it was not enjoined by the law of nature, if it was acceptable to God, it must be by some positive command or institution ; for God has declared his abhorrence of such worship as is taught by the precept of men without his institution : Isa. xxix. 13, “ Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honor me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear towards me is taught by the precept of men; therefore behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work," &c. "And such worship as hath not a warrant from divine institution, cannot be offered up in faith, because faith has no foundation where there is no divine appointment. It cannot be offered up in faith of God's acceptance ; for men have no warrant to hope for God's acceptance, in that which is not of his appointment, and in that to which he hath not promised his acceptance; and therefore it follows, that the custom of offering sacrifices to God was instituted soon after the fall; for the Scripture teaches us, that Abel offered “ the firstlings of his flock, and of the fat thereof,” Gen. iv. 4; and that he was accepted of God in this offering
Heb. xi. 4. And there is nothing in the story that looks as though the insti. tution was first given then, when Abel offered up that sacrifice to God; but it appears as though Abel only therein complied with a castom already established
And it is very probable that it was instituted immediately after God had revealed the covenant of grace, in Gen. iii. 15; which covenant and promise was the foundation on which the custom of sacrificing was built. That promise was the first stone that was laid towards this glorious building, the work of redemption, which will be finished at the end of the world. And the next stone which was laid upon that, was the institution of sacrifices, to be a type of the great Sacrifice.
The next thing that we have an account of after God had pronounced sentence on the serpent, on the wonian, and on the man, was, that God made them coats of skins, and clothed them ; which, by the generality of divines, are thought to be the skins of beasts slain in sacrifice ; for we have no account of any thing else that should be the occasion of man's slaying beasts, but only to offer them in sacrifice, till after the flood. Men were not wont to eat the flesh of beasts as their common food till after the flood. The first food of man in paradise before the fall was the fruit of the trees of paradise ; and when he was turned out of paradise after the fall, then his food was the herb of the field : Gen. ii. 18, “And thou shalt eat of the herb of the field.” The first grant that he had to eat flesh as his common food was after the flood : Gen. ix. 3, “ Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you: even as the green herb have I given you all things.” So that it is likely that these skins that Adam and Eve were clothed with, were the skins of their sacrifices. God's clothing them with these was a lively figure of their being clothed with the righteousness of Christ. This clothing was no clothing of their own obtaining ; but it was God that gave it them. It is said, “God made them coats of skins, and clothed them;" as the righteousness our naked souls are clothed with, is not our righteousness, but the righteousness which is of God. It is he only clothes the naked soul.
Our first parents, who were naked, were clothed at the expense of life. Beasts were slain, and resigned up their lives a sacrifice to God, to afford clothing to them to cover their nakedness. So doth Christ, to afford clothing to our naked souls. The skin signifies the life. So Job ii. 4: “Skin for skin, yea all that a man hath will he give for his life;" .i e. life for life. Thus our first parents were covered with skins of sacrifices, as the tabernacle in the wilderness, which signified the church, was, when it was covered with rams, skins died red, as though they were dipped in blood, to signify that Christ's righteousness was wrought out through the pains of death, under which he shed his precious blood.
We observed before, that the light that the church enjoyed from the fall of man, till Christ came, was like the light which we enjoy in the night; not the light of the sun directly, but as reflected from the moon and stars; which light did foreshow Christ, the Sun of righteousness, that was afterwards to arise. This light of the Sun of righteousness to come they had chiefly two ways: one was by predictions of Christ to come, whereby his coming was foretold and promised; the other was by types and shadows, whereby his coming and redemption were prefigured. The first thing that was done to prepare the way for Christ in the former of these ways, swas in that promise that was just taken notice of in the foregoing particular; and the first thing of the latter kind, viz., of types, to foreshow Christ's coming, was that institu
p Our first parentsis of God. It is he onlf, not our righteousnes
tion of sacrifices that we are now upon. As that promise in Gen. iii. 15 was the first dawn of gospel light after the fall in prophecy; so the institution of sacrifices was the first hint of it in types. The giving of that promise was the first thing that was done after the fall, in this work, in Christ's prophetical office; the institution of sacrifices was the first thing that we read of after the fall, by which especially Christ exhibited himself in his priestly office.
The institution of sacrifices was a great thing done towards preparing the way for Christ's coming, and working out redemption. · For the sacrifices of the Old Testament were the main of all the Old Testament types of Christ and his redemption; and it tended to establish in the minds of God's visible church, the necessity of a propitiatory sacrifice, in order to the Deity's being satisfied for sin; and so prepared the way for the reception of the glorious gospel, that reveals the great sacrifice in the visible church, and not only so, but through the world of mankind. For from this institution of sacrifices that was after the fall, all nations derived the custom of sacrificing. For this custom of offering up sacrifices to the gods, to atone for their sins, was compon to all nations. No nation, however, barbarous, was found without it anywhere. This is a great evidence of the truth of the Christian religion; for no nation, but only the Jews, could tell how they came by this custom, or to what purpose it was, to offer sacrifices to their deities. The light of nature did not teach them. any such thing. That did not teach them that the gods were hungry, and fed upon the flesh which they burnt in sacrifice; and yet they all had this custom ; of which no other account can be given, but that they derived it from Noah, who had it from his ancestors, on whom God had enjoined it as a type of the great sacrifice of Christ. However, by this means all nations of the world had their minds possessed with this notion, that an atonement or sacrifice for sin was necessary; and a way was made for their more readily receiving the great doctrine of the gospel of Christ, which ceaches us the atonement and sacrifice of Christ.
IV. God did soon after the fall begin actually to save the souls of men through Christ's redemption. In this, Christ, who had lately taken upon him the work of Mediator between God and man, did first begin that work, wherein he appeared in the exercise of his kingly office, as in the sacrifices he was represented in his priestly office, and in the first prediction of redemption by Christ he had appeared in the exercise of his prophetical office. In that prediction the light of Christ's redemption first began to dawn in the prophecies of it; in the institution of sacrifices it first began to dawn in the types of it; in this, viz., his beginning actually to save men, it first began to dawn in the fruit of it.
It is probable, therefore, that Adam and Eve were the first fruits of Christ's redemption; it is probable by God's manner of treating them, by his comforting them as he did, after their awakenings and terrors. They were awakened, and ashamed with a sense of their guilt, after their fall, when their eyes were opened, and they saw that they were naked, and sewed fig-leaves to cover their nakedness; as the sinner, under the first awakenings, is wont to endeavor to hide the nakedness of his soul, by patching up a righteousness of his own. Then they were further terrified and awakened, by hearing the voice of God, as he was coming to condemn them. Their coverings of fig-leaves did not answer the purpose"; but notwithstanding these, they ran to hide themselves among the trees of the garden, because they were naked, not daring to trust to their fig-leaves to hide their nakedness from God. Then they were further