Imágenes de páginas

awakened by God's calling of them to a strict account. But while their ter. rors were raised to such a height, and they stood, as we may suppose, trembling and astonished before their judge, without any thing to catch hold of whence they could gather any hope, then God took care to hold forth some encouragement to them, to keep them from the dreadful effects of despair under their awakenings, by giving a hint of a design of mercy by a Saviour, even before he pronounced sentence against them. And when after this he proceeded to pronounce sentence, whereby we may suppose their terrors were further raised, God soon after took care to encourage them, and to let them see, that he had not wholly cast them off, by taking a fatherly care of them in their fallen, naked and miserable state, by making them coats of skins and clothing them. Which also manifested an acceptance of those sacrifices that they offered to God for sin, that those were the skins of, which were types of what God had promised, when he said, “ The seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent's head ;" which promise, there is reason to think, they believed and embraced. Eve seems plainly to express her hope in, and dependence on that promise, in what she says at the birth of Cain, Gen. iv. 1, “I have gotten a man from the Lord;" i. e. as God has promised, that my seed should bruise the serpent's head; so now has God given me this pledge and token of it, that I have a seed born. She plainly owns, that this her child was from God, and hoped that her promised seed was to be of this her eldest son; though she was mistaken, as Abraham was with respect to Ishmael, as Jacob was with respect to Esau, and as Samuel was with respect to the first born of Jesse. And especially does what she said at the birth of Seth, express her hope and dependence on the promise of God; see ver. 25:1“ For God hath appointed me another seed, instead of Abel, whom Cain slew."

Thus it is exceeding probable, if not evident, that as Christ took on him the work of Mediator as soon as man fell; so he now immediately began his work of redemption in its effect, and that he immediately encountered his great enemy the devil, whom he had undertaken to conquer, and rescued those two first captives out of his hands; therein baffling him, soon after his triumph for the victory he had obtained over them, whereby he had made them his captives. And though he was, as it were, sure of them and all their posterity, Christ the Redeemer soon showed him, that he was mistaken, and that he was able to subdue him, and deliver fallen man. He let him see it, in delivering those first captives of his; and so soon gave him an instance of the fulfilment of that threatening,“ The seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent's head ;" and in this instance a presage of the fulfilment of one great thing he had undertaken, viz., his subduing all his enemies under his feet.

After this we have another instance of redemption in one of their children, viz., in righteous Abel, as the Scripture calls him, whose soul perhaps was the first that went to heaven through Christ's redemption. In him we have at least the first instance of the death of a redeemed person that is recorded in Scripture. If he was the first, then as the redemption of Christ began to dawn before in the souls of men in their conversion and justification, in him it first began to dawn in glorification ; and in him the angels began first to do the part of ministering spirits to Christ, in going forth to conduct the souls of the redeemed to glory. And in him the elect angels in heaven had the first opportunity to see so wonderful a thing as the soul of one of the fallen race of mankind, that had been sunk by the fall into such an abyss of sin and misery, brought to heaven, and in the enjoyment of heavenly glory, which was a much greater thing than if they had seen him returned to the earthly

so wonderful

by the fall into suc heavenly glory, whiljo

paradise. Thus they by this saw the glorious effect of Christ's redemption, in the great honor and happiness that was procured for sinful miserable creatures by it.

V. The next remarkable thing that God did in the farther carrying on of this great affair of redemption, that I shall take notice of, was the first remarkable pouring out of the Spirit through Christ that ever was, which was in the days of Enos. This seems to have been the next remarkable thing that was done toward erecting this glorious building that God had begun and laid the foundation of in Christ the Mediator. We read, in Gen. iv. 26, " Then began men to call upon the name of the Lord.” The meaning of these words has been considerably controverted among divines. We cannot suppose the meaning is, that that time was the first that ever men performed the duty of prayer. Prayer is a duty of natural religion, and a duty to which a spirit of piety does most naturally lead men. Prayer is as it were the very breath of a spirit of piety ; and we cannot suppose, therefore, that those holy men that had been before for above two hundred years, had lived all that while without any prayer. Therefore some divines think, that the meaning is, that then men first began to perform public worship, or to call upon the name of the Lord in public assemblies. Whether it be so to be understood or no, yet so much must necessarily be understood by it, viz., that there was something new in the visible church of God with respect to the duty of prayer, or calling upon the name of the Lord ; that there was a great addition to the performance of this duty; and that in some respect or other it was carried far beyond what it ever had been before, which must be the consequence of a remarkable pouring out of the Spirit of God.

If it was now first that men were stirred up to get together in assemblies to help and assist one another in seeking God, so as they never had done before, it argues something extraordinary as the cause; and could be from nothing but uncommon influences of God's Spirit. We see by experience, that a remarkable pouring out of God's Spirit is always attended with such an effect, viz., a great increase of the performance of the duty of prayer. When the Spirit of God begins a work on men's hearts, it immediately sets them to calling on the name of the Lord. As it was with Paul after the Spirit of God had laid hold of him, then the next news is, “Behold, he prayeth !” So it has been in all remarkable pourings out of the Spirit of God that we have any particular account of in Scripture ; and so it is foretold it will be at the great pouring out of the Spirit of God in the latter days. It is foretold, that it will be poured out as a spirit of grace and supplication, Zech. xii. 10. See also Zeph. iii. 9: “ For then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the Lord, to serve him with one consent."

And when it is said, “ Then began men to call upon the name of the Lord,” no more can be intended by it, than that this was the first remarkable season of this nature that ever was. It was the beginning, or the first, of such a kind of work of God, such a pouring out of the Spirit of God. After such a manner, such an expression is commonly used in Scripture : so, 1 Sam. xiv. 35. “And Saul built an altar unto the Lord; the same was the first altar that he built unto the Lord.” In the Hebrew it is, as you may see in the margin,

that altar he began to build unto the Lord.” Heb. ii. 3: “How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation, which first began to be spoken by the Lord ?"

It may here be observed, that from the fall of man, to this day wherein we live, the work of redemption in its effect has mainly been carried on by re

Voi.. I.

line a boldal remart of spirit o

[ocr errors]

markable pourings out of the Spirit of God. Though there be a more constant influence of God's Spirit always in some degree attending his ordinances; yet the way in which the greatest things have been done towards carrying on this work, always has been by remarkable pourings out of the Spirit at special seasons of mercy, as may fully appear hereafter in our further prosecution of the subject we are upon. And this pouring out of the Spirit in the days of Enos, was the first remarkable pouring out of the Spirit of God that ever was. There had been a saving work of God on the hearts of some before ; but now God was pleased to grant a more large effusion of his Spirit, for the bringing in a harvest of souls to Christ; so that in this we see that great building that is the subject of our present discourse, which God laid the foundation of immediately after the fall of man, carried on further, and built higher than ever it had been before.

VI. The next thing I shall take notice of, is the eminently holy life of Enoch, who we have reason to think was a saint of greater eminency than any ever had been before him ; so that in this respect the work of redemption was carried on to a greater height than ever it had been before. With respect to its effect in the visible church in general, we observed just now how it was carried higher in the days of Enos than ever it had been before. Probably Enoch was one of the saints of that harvest ; for he lived all the days that he did live on earth, in the days of Enos. And with respect to the degree to which this work was carried in the soul of a particular person, it was raised to a greater height in Enoch than ever before. His soul, as it was built on Christ, was built up in holiness to a greater height than there had been any instance of before. He was a wonderful instance of Christ's redemption, and the efficacy of his grace.

VII. In Enoch's time, God did more expressly reveal the coming of Christ than he had done before, in the prophecy of Enoch that we have an account of in the 14th and 15th verses of the Epistle of Jude : “ And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, “Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousand of his saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them, of their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” Here Enoch prophesies of the coming of Christ. It does not seem to be confined to any particular coming of Christ; but it has respect in general to Christ's coming in his kingdom, and is fulfilled in a degree in both the first and second coming of Christ; and indeed in every remarkable manifestation Christ has made of himself in the world, for the saving of his people, and the destroying of his enemies. It is very parallel in this respect with many other prophecies of the coming of Christ, that were given under the Old Testament; and, in particular, it seems to be parallel with that great prophecy of Christ's coming in his kingdom that we have in the 7th chapter of Daniel, whence the Jews principally took their notion of the kingdom of heaven. See ver. 10: “A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him : thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him : the judgment was set, and the books were opened.” And ver. 13, 14: “ I saw in the night visions, and behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdoin, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.” And thougb

sent discourse, being

a che increase of gospeluruh in

it is not unlikely that Enoch might have a more immediate respect in this prophecy to the approaching destruction of the old world by the flood, which was a remarkable resemblance of Christ's destruction of all his enemies at his second coming, yet it doubtless looked beyond the type to the antitype.

And as this prophecy of Christ's coming is more express than any had been before ; so it is an instance of the increase of that gospel light that began to dawn presently after the fall of man; and is an instance of that building that is the subject of our present discourse, being yet further carried on, and built up higher than ever it had been before.

And here, by the way, I would observe, that the increase of gospel light, and the carrying on the work of redemption, as it respects the elect church in general, from the first erecting of the church to the end of the world, is very much after the same manner as the carrying on of the same work and the same light in a particular soul, from the time of its conversion, till it is perfected and crowned in glory. The work in a particular soul has its ups and downs; sometimes the light shines brighter, and sometimes it is a dark time; sometimes grace seems to prevail, at other times it seems to languish for a great while together, and corruption prevails, and then grace revives again. But in general, grace is growing: from its first infusion, till it is perfected in glory, the kingdom of Christ is building up in the soul.

So it is with respect to the great affair in general, as it relates to the universal subject of it, as it is carried on from the first beginning of it, after the fall, till it is perfected at the end of the world, as will more fully appear by a particular view of this affair from beginning to end, in the prosecution of this subject, if God give opportunity to carry it through as I propose.

VIII. The next remarkable thing towards carrying on this work, that we have an account of in Scripture, is, the translation of Enoch into heaven. The account we have of it is in Gen. v. 24: " And Enoch walked with God, and he was not ; for God took him.” Here Moses, in giving an account of the genealogy of those that were of the line of Noah, does not say concerning Enoch, he lived so long and he died, as he does of the rest ; but, he was not,

for God took him ; i. e. he translated him; in body and soul carried him to heaven without dying, as it is explained in Heb. xi. 5:“ By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death.” By this wonderful work of God, the work of redemption was carried to a greater height, in several respects, than it had been before.

You may remember, that when I was showing what were the great things that God aimed at in the work of redemption, or what the main things were that he intended to bring to pass; I among other things mentioned the perfect restoring the ruins of the fall with respect to the elect, and restoring man from that destruction that he had brought on himself, both in soul and body. Now this translation of Enoch was the first instance that ever was of restoring the ruins of the fall with respect to the body. There had been many instances of restoring the soul of man by Christ's redemption, but none of redeeming and actually saving the body, till now. All the bodies of the elect are to be saved as well as their souls. At the end of the world, all the bodies of the saints shall actually be redeemed; those that then shall have been dead, by a resurrection ; and others, that then shall be living, by causing them to pass under a glorious change. There was a number of the bodies of saints raised and glorified, at the resurrection and ascension of Christ; and before that there was an instance of a body glorified in Elijah. But the first instance of all wag this of Enoch, that we are now speaking of.

end of the shall have bee them to paised and

And the work of redemption by this was carried on further than ever it had been before ; as, by this wonderful work of God, there was a great increase of gospel light to the church of God, in this respect, that hereby the church had a clearer manifestation of a future state, and of the glorious reward of the saints in heaven. We are told, 2 Tim. i. 10, “ That life and immortality are brought to light by the gospel.” And the more of this is brought to light, the more clearly does the light shine in that respect. What was said in the Old Testament of a future state, is very obscure, in comparison with the more full, plain, and abundant revelation given of it in the New. But yet even in those early days, the church of God, in this event, was favored with an instance of it set before their eyes, in that one of their brethren was actually taken up to heaven without dying; which we have all reason to think the church of God knew then, as they afterwards knew Elijah's translation. And as this was a clearer manifestation of a future state than the church had had before, so it was a pledge or earnest of that future glorification of all the saints which God intended through the redemption of Jesus Christ.

IX. The next thing that I shall observe, was the upholding the church of God in the family of which Christ was to proceed, in the time of that great and general defection of the world of mankind that was before the flood. The church of God, in all probability, was small, in comparison with the rest of the world, from the beginning of the time that mankind first began to multiply on the face of the earth, or from the time of Cain's defection, and departing from among the people of God; the time we read of, Gen. iv, 16, “ When Cain went out from the presence of the Lord, and dwelt in the land of Nod;" which being interpreted, is the land of banishment. I say, from this time of Cain's departure and separation from the church of God, it is probable that the church of God was small in comparison with the rest of the world. The church seems to have been kept up chiefly in the posterity of Seth ; for this was the seed that God appointed instead of Abel, whom Cain slew. But we cannot reasonably suppose, that. Seth's posterity were one fiftieth part of the world : “ for Adam was one hundred and thirty years old when Seth was born." But Cain, who seems to have been the ring leader of those that were not of the church, was Adam's eldest child, and probably was born soon after the fall, which doubtless was soon after Adam's creation ; so that there was time for Cain to have many sons before Seth was born, and besides many other children, that probably Adam and Eve had before this time, agreeably to God's blessing that he gave them, when he said, “ Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth ;” and many of these children might have children. The story of Cain before Seth was born, seems to represent as though there were great numbers of men on the earth: Gen.iv. 14, 15,“ Behold thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the earth: and from thy face shall I be hid, and I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth; and it shall come to pass, that every one that findeth me shall slay me. And the Lord said unto him, Therefore, whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And the Lord set a mark upon Cain, lest any, finding him, should kill him.” And all those that were then in being when Seth was born, must be supposed then to stand in equal capacity of multiplying their posterity with him; and therefore, as I said before, Seth's posterity were but a small part of the inhabitants of the world.

But after the days of Enos and Enoch (for Enoch was translated before Enos died), I say, after their days, the church of God greatly diminished, in proportion as multitudes that were of the line of Seth, and had been born in the church of God, fell away, and joined with the wicked world, principally by means of

« AnteriorContinuar »