Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

wood of the sacrifice to be slain. This was a confirmation of Abraham's faith in the promise that God had made of Christ, that he should be of Isaac's posterity ; and was a representation of the resurrection of Christ; as you may see, Heb. xi. 17, 18, 19. And because this was given as a confirmation of the covenant of grace, therefore God renewed that covenant with Abraham on this occasion, as you may see, Gen. xxiv. 15, &c.

Thus you see how much more fully the covenant of grace was revealed and confirmed in Abraham's time than ever it had been before; by means of which, Abraham seems to have had a more clear understanding and sight of Christ the great Redeemer, and the future things that were to be accomplished by him, than any of the saints that had gone before. And therefore Christ takes notice of it, that Abraham rejoiced to see his day, and he saw it, and was glad, John viii. 56. So great an advance did it please God now to make in this building, which he had been carrying on from the beginning of the world.

III. The next thing that I would take notice of here, is God's preserving the patriarchs for so long a time in the midst of the wicked inhabitants of Canaan, and from all other enemies. The patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, were those of whom Christ was to proceed; and they were now separated from the world, that in them his church might be upheld. Therefore in preserving them, the great design of redemption was upheld and carried on. He preserved them and kept the inhabitants of the land where they sojourned from destroying them ; which was a remarkable dispensation of Providence. For the inhabitants of the land were at that day exceedingly wicked, though they grew more wicked afterwards. This appears by Gen. xv. 16 : “ In the fourth generation they shall come bither again; for the iniquity of the Canaanites is not yet full :" as much as to say, Though it be very great, yet it is not full. And their great wickedness also appears by Abraham and Isaac's aversion to their children marrying any of the daughters of the land. Abraham, when he was old could not be content till he had made his servant swear that he would not take a wife for his son of the daughters of the land. And Isaac and Rebecca were content to send away Jacob to so great a distance as Padan Aram, to take him a wife thence. And when Esau married some of the daughters of the land, we are told, that they were a grief of mind to Isaac and Rebecca.

Another argument of their great wickedness, was the instances we have in Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboim, which were some of the cities of Canaan, though they were probably distinguishingly wicked.

And they being thus wicked, were likely to have the most bitter enmity against these holy mnen; agreeably to what was declared at first,“ I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed.” Their holy lives were a continual condemnnation of their wickedness. And besides, it could not be otherwise, but that they must be much in reproving their wickedness, as we find Lot was in Sodom; who, we are told, vexed his righteous soul with their unlawful deeds, and was a preacher of righteousness to them.

And they were the more exposed to them, being strangers and sojourners in the land, and having no inheritance there as yet. Men are more apt to find fault with strangers, and to be irritated by any thing in them that offends them, as they were with Lot in Sodom. He very gently reproved their wickedness; and they say upon it, “ This fellow came in to sojourn, and he will needs be a ruler and a judge;" and threatened what they would do to him.

But God wonderfully preserved Abraham and Lot, and Isaac and Jacob, and their families, amongst them, though they were few in number, and they might quickly have destroyed them; which is taken notice of as a wonderful instance of God's preserving mercy toward his church, Psal. cv. 12, &c.: “ When they were but a few men in number ; yea, very few, and strangers in it. When they went from one nation to another, from one kingdom to another people; he suffered no man to do them wrong: yea, he reproved kings for their sakes, saying, Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm.”

This preservation was, in some instances especially, very remarkable; those instances that we have an account of, wherein the people of the land were greatly irritated and provoked ; as they were by Simeon and Levi's treatment of the Shechemites, as you may see in Gen. xxxiv. 30, &c. God then strangely preserved Jacob and his family, restraining the provoked people by an unusual terror on their minds, as you may see in Gen. xxxv. 5: “ And the terror of God was upon the cities that were round about them, and they did not pursue after the sons of Jacob."

And God's preserving them, not only from the Canaanites, is here to be taken notice of, but his preserving them from all others that intended mischief to them : as his preserving Jacob and his company, when pursued by Laban, full of rage, and a disposition to overtake him as an enemy : God met him, and rebuked him, and said to him, " Take heed that thou speak not to Jacob either good or bad.” How wonderfully did he also preserve him from Esau his brother, when he came forth with an army, with a full design to cut him off! How did God, in answer to his prayer, when he wrestled with Christ at Penuel, wonderfully turn Esau's heart, and make him, instead of meeting him as an enemy with slaughter and destruction, to meet him as a friend and brother, doing him no harm!

And thus was this handful, this little root that had the blessing of the Redeemer in it, preserved in the midst of enemies and dangers; which was not unlike to the preserving the ark in the midst of the tempestuous deluge.

IV. The next thing I would mention is, the awful destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and the neighboring cities. This tended to promote the great design and work that is the subject of my present undertaking, two ways. It did so, as it tended powerfully to restrain the inhabitants of the land from injuring those holy strangers that God had brought to sojourn amongst them. Lot was one of those strangers; he came into the land with Abraham; and Sodom was destroyed for their abusive disregard of Lot, the preacher of righteousness, that God had sent among them. And their destruction came just upon their committing a most injurious and abominable insult on Lot, and the strangers that were come into his house, even those angels, whom they probably took to be some of Lot's foriner acquaintance come from the country that he came from, to visit him. They in a most outrageous manner beset Lot's house, intending a monstrous abuse and act of violence on those strangers that were come thither, and threatening to serve Lot worse than them.

But in the midst of this, God smote them with blindness; and the next morning the city and the country about it was overthrown in a most terrible storm of fire and brimstone; which dreadful destruction, as it was in the sight of the rest of the inhabitants of the land, and therefore greatly tended to restrain them from hurting those holy strangers any more; it doubtless struck a dread and terror on their minds, and made them afraid to hurt them, and probably was one principal means to restrain them, and preserve the patriarchs. And when that reason is given why the inhabitants of the land did not pursue after Jacob, when they were so provoked by the destruction of the Shechemites, viz., “ that the terror of the Lord was upon them," it is very probable, that this was the terror that was set home upon them. They remembered the amazing destruction of Sodom, and the cities of the plain, that came upon them upon their abusive treatment of Lot, and so durst not hurt Jacob and his family, though they were so much provoked to it.

Another way that this awful destruction tended to promote this great affair of redemption, was, that hereby God did remarkably exhibit the terrors of his law, to make men sensible of their need of redeeming mercy. The work of redemption never was carried on without this. The law, from the beginning, is made use of as a schoolmaster to bring men to Christ.

But under the Old Testament there was much more need of some extraordinary, visible, and sensible manifestation of God's wrath against sin, than in the days of the gospel ; since a future state, and the eternal misery of hell, is more clearly revealed, and since the awful justice of God against the sins of men has been so wonderfully displayed in the sufferings of Christ. And therefore the revelation that God gave of himself in those days, used to be accompanied with much more terror than it is in these days of the gospel. So when God appeared at Mount Sinai to give the law, it was with thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud. But soine external awful manifestations of God's wrath against sin, were on some accounts especially necessary before the giving of the law : and therefore before the flood, the terrors of the law handed down by tradition from Adam served. Adam lived nine hundred and thirty years himself, to tell the church of God's awful threatenings denounced in the covenant made with him, and how dreadful the consequences of the fall were, as he was an eye witness and subject; and others that conversed with Adam, lived till the flood. And the destruction of the world by the flood served to exhibit the terrors of the law, and manifest the wrath of God against sin; and so to make men sensible of the absolute necessity of redeeming mercy. And some that saw the flood were alive in Abraham's time.

But this was now in a great measure forgotten ; now therefore God was pleased again, in a most amazing manner, to show his wrath against sin, in the destruction of these cities; which was after such a manner as to be the liveliest image of hell of any thing that ever had been; and therefore the apostle Jude says, “ They suffer the vengeance of eternal fire,” Jude 7. God rained storms of fire and brimstone upon them. The way that they were destroyed probably was by thick flashes of lightning. The streams of brimstone were so thick as to burn up these cities; so that they perished in the flames of divine wrath. By this might be seen the dreadful wrath of God against the ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, which tended to show men the necessity of redemption, and so to promote that great work.

V. God again renewed and confirmed the covenant of grace to Isaac and to Jacob. He did so to Isaac, as you may see, Gen. xxvi. 3, 4: “And I will perform the oath which I sware unto Abrahain thy father; and I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed." And afterwards it was renewed and confirmed to Jacob; first in Isaac's blessing of him, wherein he acted and spoke by extraordinary divine direction. In that blessing, the blessings of the covenant of grace were established with Jacob and his seed; as Gen. xxvii. 29: “Let people serve thee, and nations bow down to thee; be lord over thy brethren, and let thy mother's sons bow

VOL. I.

[ocr errors]

down to thee: cursed be every one that curseth thee, and blessed be he that blesseth thee.” And therefore Esau, in missing of this blessing, missed of being blessed as an heir of the benefits of the covenant of grace.

This covenant was again renewed and confirmed to Jacob at Bethel, in his vision of the ladder that reached to heaven ; which ladder was a symbol of the way of salvation by Christ, for the stone that Jacob rested on was a type of Christ, the stone of Israel, which the spiritual Israel or Jacob rests upon; as is evident, because this stone was on this occasion anointed, and was made use of as an altar. But we know that Christ is the anointed of God, and is the only true altar of God. While Jacob was resting on this stone and saw this ladder, God appears to him as his covenant God, and renews the covenant of grace with him; as in Gen. xxviii. 14: “ And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth; and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south; and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed.”

And Jacob had another remarkable confirmation of this covenant at Penuel, where he wrestled with God, and prevailed; where Christ appeared to him in a human form, in the form of that nature which he was afterwards to receive into a personal union with his divine nature.

And God renewed his covenant with him again, after he was come out of Padan Aram, and was come up to Bethel, to the stone that he had rested on, and where he had the vision of the ladder; as you may see in Gen. XXXV. 10, &c.

Thus the covenant of grace was now often renewed, much oftener than it had been before. The light of the gospel now began to shine much brighter as the time grew nearer that Christ should come.

VI. The next thing I would observe, is God's remarkably preserving the family of which Christ was to proceed from perishing by famine, by the instrumentality of Joseph. When there was a seven years' famine approaching, God was pleased, by a wonderful providence, to send Joseph into Egypt, there to provide for, and feed Jacob and his family, and to keep the holy seed alive, which otherwise would have perished. Joseph was sent into Egypt for that end, as he observes, Gen. I. 20: “But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to save much people alive.” How often had this holy root, that had the future branch of righteousness, the glorious Redeemer, in it, been in danger of being destroyed! But God wonderfully preserved it.

This salvation of the house of Israel by the hand of Joseph, was upon some accounts very much a resemblance of the salvation of Christ. The children of Israel were saved by Joseph their kinsman and brother, from perishing by famine; as he that saves the souls of the spiritual Israel from spiritual famine is their near kinsman, and one that is not ashamed to call them brethren. Joseph was a brother, that they had hated, and sold, and as it were killed ; for they had designed to kill him. So Christ is one that we naturally hate, and, by our wicked lives, have sold for the vain things of the world, and that by our sins we have slain. Joseph was first in a state of humiliation; he was a servant, as Christ appeared in the form of a servant; and then was cast into a dungeon, as Christ descended into the grave; and then when he rose out of the dungeon, he was in a state of great exaltation, at the king's right hand as his deputy, to reign over all his kingdom, to provide food, to preserve life; and being in this state of exaltation, he dispenses food to his brethren, and so gives them life; as Christ was exalted at God's right hand to be a

Se

nated by sembilan terael by the

sold, alocall thiritual fans by

Prince and Saviour to his brethren, and received gifts for men, even for the rebellious, and them that hated, and had sold hiin.

VII. After this there was a prophecy given forth of Christ, on some accounts, more particular than ever any had been before, even that which was in Jacob's blessing his son Judah. This was more particular than ever any had been before, as it showed of whose posterity he was to be. When God called Abraham, it was revealed that he was to be of Abraham's posterity. Before, we have no account of any revelation concerning Christ's pedigree, confined to narrower limits than the posterity of Noah : after this it was confined to still narrower limits; for though Abraham had many sons, yet it was revealed, that Christ was to be of Isaac's posterity. And then it was limited more still : for when Isaac had two sons, it was revealed that Christ was to be of Israel's posterity. And now, though Israel had twelve sons, yet it is revealed that Christ should be of Judah's posterity : Christ is the lion of the tribe of Judah. Respect is chiefly had to his great acts, when it is said here, Gen. xlix. 8: “ Judah, thou art he whom thy brethren shall praise; thy hand shall be in the neck of thine enemies; thy father's children shall bow down before thee. Judah is a lion's whelp; from the prey, my son, thou art gone up: he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion; who shall rouse him up ?" And then this prediction is more particular concerning the time of Christ's coming, than any had been before; as in ver. 10: « The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.” The prophecy here, of the calling of the Gentiles consequent on Christ's coming, seems to be more plain than any had been before, in the expression, to him shall the gathering of the people be.

Thus you see how that gospel light which dawned immediately after the fall of man, gradually increases.

VIII. The work of redemption was carried on in this period, in God's wonderfully preserving the children of Israel in Egypt, when the power of Egypt was engaged utterly to destroy them. They seemed to be wholly in the hands of the Egyptians; they were their servants, and were subject to the power of Pharaoh; and Pharaoh set himself to weaken them with hard bondage. And when he saw that did not do, he set himself to extirpate the race of them, by commanding that every male child should be drowned. But after all that Pharaoh could do, God wonderfully preserved them; and, not only so, but increased them exceedingly; so that instead of being extirpated, they greatly multiplied.

IX. Here is to be observed, not only the preservation of the nation, but God's wonderfully preserving and upholding his invisible church in that nation, when in danger of being overwhelmed in the idolatry of Egypt. The children of Israel being long among the Egyptians, and being servants under them, and so not under advantages to keep God's ordinances among themselves, and maintain any public worship or public instruction, whereby the true religion might be upheld, and there being now no written word of God, they, by degrees, in a great measure, lost the true religion, and borrowed the idolatry of Egypt; and the greater part of the people fell away to the worship of their gods. This we learn by Ezek. xx. 6, 7, 8, and by chap. xxiii. 8.

This now was the third time that God's church was almost swallowed up and carried away with the wickedness of the world; once before the flood; the other time, before the calling of Abraham ; and now the third time in Egypt. But yet God did not suffer his church to be quite overwhelmed ; be

« AnteriorContinuar »