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building. Not far from this time, was the beginning of the great written rule, which God has given for the regulation of the faith, worship and practice of his church in all ages henceforward to the end of the world; which rule grew, and was added to from that time, for many ages, till it was finished, and the canon of Scripture completed by the Apostle John. It is not very material, whether the first written word that ever was, was the ten commandments, written on the tables of stone with the finger of God, or the book of Job; and whether the book of Job was written by Moses, as some suppose, or by Elihu, as others. If it was written by Elihu, it was written before this period that we are now upon; but yet could not be far from it, as appears by considering whose posterity the persons were that are spoken of in it, together with Job's great age, that was past before this was written.
The written word of God is the main instrument Christ has made use of to carry on his work of redemption in all ages since it was given. There was . a necessity now of the word of God's being committed to writing, for a steady
rule to God's church. Before this, the church had the word of God by tradition, either by immediate tradition from eminent men that were inspired, that were then living (for it was a common thing in those days, before there was a written word, for God to reveal himself immediately to eminent persons, as appears by the book of Job, and many other things that might be mentioned, in the book of Genesis), or else they had it by tradition from former generations, which might be had with tolerable certainty in ages preceding this, by reason of the long lives of men. Noah might converse with Adam, and receive traditions from him; and Noah lived till about Abraham's time: and the sons of Jacob lived a considerable time to deliver the revelations made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to their posterity in Egypt. But the distance from the beginning of things was become so great, and the lives of men become so short, being brought down to the present standard about Moses's time, and God having now separated a nation to be a peculiar people, partly for that end to be the keepers of the oracles of God; God saw it to be a needful and convenient time now to commit his word to writing, to remain henceforward for a. steady rule throughout all ages. And therefore, besides the book of Job, Christ wrote the ten commandments on tables of stone, with his own finger; and after this the whole law, as containing the substance of the five books of Moses, was by God's special command committed to writing, which was called the book of the law, and was laid up in the tabernacle, to be kept there for the use of the church; as you may see, Deut. xxxi. 24, 25, 26.
VI. God was pleased now wonderfully to represent the progress of his redeemed church through the world to their eternal inheritance, by the journey of the children of Israel through the wilderness, from Egypt to Canaan. Here all the various steps of the redemption of the church by Christ were represented, from the beginning to its consummation in glory. The state they are redeemed from is represented by Egypt, and their bondage there, which they left. The purchase of their redemption was represented by the sacrifice of the paschal lamb, which was offered up that night that God slew all the first-born of Egypt. The beginning of the application of the redemption of Christ's church in their conversion, was represented by Israel's going out of Egypt, and passing through the Red Sea in so extraordinary and miraculous a manner. The travel of the church through this evil world, and the various changes through which the church passes, in the different stages of it, were represented by the journey of the Israelites through the wilderness. The manner of their being conducted by Christ, was represented by the Israelites being led by the Vol. I.
pillar of cloud by day, and the pillar of fire by night. The manner of the church's being supported in their progress, and supplied from the beginning to the end of it, with spiritual food, and continual daily communications from God, was represented by God's supplying the children of Israel with bread, or manna, from heaven, and water out of the rock. The dangers that the saints must meet with in their course through the world, were represented by the fiery flying serpents which the children of Israel met with in the wilderness. The conflicts the church has with her enemies, were represented by their battle with the Amalekites, and others they met with there. And so innumerable other things might be mentioned, wherein the things they met with were lively images of things which the church and saints meet with in all ages of the world. That these things are typical of things that pertain to the Christian church is manifest from 1 Cor. x. 11 : “ Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.” Here the apostle is speaking of those very things which we have now mentioned, and he says expressly, that they happened unto them for types ; so it is in the original.
VII. Another thing here must not be omitted, which was a great and remarkable dispensation of Providence, respecting the whole world of mankind, which was finished in this period; and that was the shortening the days of man's life, whereby it was brought down from being between nine hundred and a thousand years, to be but about seventy or eighty. The life of man began to be shortened immediately after the flood; it was brought down the first generation to six hundred years; and the next to between four and five hundred years; and so the life of man gradually grew shorter and shorter, till about the time of the great mortality that was in the congregation of Israel, after they had murmured at the report of the spies, and their carcasses fell in the wilderness, whereby all the men of war died; and then the life of man was reduced to its present standard, as Moses observes in that Psalm that he wrote on occasion of that mortality : Psal. xc. 10, “ The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labor and sorrow : for it is soon cut off, and we fly · away."
This great dispensation of God tended to promote the grand design of the redemption of Christ. Man's life being cut so very short in this world, tended to prepare the way for poor, mortal, short lived men, the more joyfully to entertain the glad tidings of everlasting life in another world, that are brought to light by the gospel; and more readily to embrace a Saviour, that purchases and offers such a blessing. If men's lives were still commonly about nine hundred years, how much less would they have to move them to regard the proffers of a future life; how much greater temptation would they have to rest in the things of this world, they being of such long continuance, and to neglect any other life but this! This probably contributed greatly to the wickedness of the antediluvians. But now how much greater motives have men to seek redemption, and a better life than this, by the great Redeemer, since the life of man is not one twelfth part of what it used to be, and men now universally die at the age when men formerly used to be but as it were setting out in the world !
VIII. The same work was carried on in preserving that people, of whom Christ was to come, from totally perishing in the wilderness, by a constant miracle of forty years, continuance. I observed before many times, how God preserved those of whom the Redeemer was to proceed, in a very wonderful
manner; as he preserved Noah and his family from the flood; and as he preserved Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, with their families, from the wicked inhabitants of Canaan; and as he preserved Jacob and his family from perishing by the famine, by Joseph in Egypt. But this preservation of the children of Israel for so long a time in the wilderness, was on some accounts more remarkable than any of them; for it was by a continual miracle of so long duration. There was, as may be fairly computed, at first two millions of souls in that congregation, that could not subsist any better without meat and drink than other men. But if this had been withheld, they must all have perished, every man, woman, and child, in less than one month's time, so that there would not have been one of them left. But yet this vast multitude subsisted for forty years together, in a dry, barren wilderness, without sowing or reaping, or tilling any land, having their bread daily rained down to them out of heaven, and being furnished with water to satisfy them all, out of a rock; and the same clothes with which they came out of Egypt, lasting without wearing out all that time. Never was any instance like this of a nation's being so upheld for so long a time together. Thus God upheld his church by a continual miracle, and kept alive that people in whom was the blessing, the promised seed, and great Redeemer of the world.
IX. God was pleased, in this time of the children of Israel's being in the wilderness, to give a further revelation of Christ the Redeemer in the predictions of him, than had been before. Here are three prophecies given at this time that I would take notice of. The first is that of Balaam, Numb. xxiv. 17, 18, 19: “I shall see him, but not now; I shall behold him, but not nigh: there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth. And Edom shall be a possession, Seir also shall be a possession for his enemies, and Israel shall do valiantly. Out of Jacob shall come he that shall have dominion, and shall destroy him that remaineth of the city.” This is a plainer prophecy of Christ, especially with regard to his kingly office, than any that had been before. But we have another, that God gave by Moses, that is plainer still, especially with regard to his prophetical office, in Deut. xvii. 18, &c. : “I will raise them up a prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak unto themi all that I command him," &c. This is a plainer prophecy of Christ than any that had been before, in this respect, that all the prophecies that had been before of Christ, were in figurative, mystical language. The first prophecy was 50—that “the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head.” The promises made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob that“ in their seed all the families of the earth should be blessed,” were also mystical; which prophecy is not so particular, because the expression, thy seed, is general, and not plainly limited to any particular person. The prophecy of Jacob in blessing Judah, Gen. xlix. 8, is in mystical language; and so is that of Balaam, which speaks of Christ under the figurative expression of a star. But this is a plain prophecy, without being veiled in any mystical language at all.
There are several things contained in this prophecy of Christ. Here is his mediatorial office in general, ver. 16. Here it is revealed how he should be a person to stand between them and God, that was so terrible a being, a being of such awful majesty, holiness, and justice, that they could not have intercourse with him immediately, without a mediator to stand between them. because, if they came to such a dreadful sin-revenging God immediately, they should die; God would prove a consuming fire to them. And then here is
Plainly limited to an, because the exprewere also mystical
a particular revelation of Christ with respect to his prophetical office : “1 will raise them up a prophet from among their brethren like unto thee,” &c. And further, it is revealed what kind of a prophet he should be, a prophet like Moses, who was the head and leader of all the people, and who, under God, had been their redeemer, to bring them out of the house of bondage, was, as it were, their shepherd, by whom God led them through the Red Sea and wilderness, and was an intercessor for them with God, and was both a prophet and a king in the congregation ; for Moses had the power of a king among them. It is said of him, Deut. xxxiii. 5, he was king in Jeshurun, and he was the prophet by whom God as it were built up his church, and delivered his instructions of worship. Thus Christ was to be a prophet like unto Moses; so that this is both the plainest and fullest prophecy of Christ that ever had been from the beginning of the world to this time.
The next prophecy that I shall take notice of, respects only the calling of the Gentiles, which should be after Christ's coming, of which God gave a very plain prophecy by Moses in the wilderness, Deut. xxxii. 21. Here is a very plain prophecy of the rejection of the Jews, and calling the Gentiles. They moved God to jealousy, by that which was not God, by casting him off, and taking other gods, that were no gods, in his room. So God declares that he will move them to jealousy in the like manner, by casting them off, and taking other people, that had not been his people, in their room. The Apostle Paul takes notice of this prophecy, as foretelling the calling of the Gentiles, in Romans x. 19, 20: “But I say, Did not Israel know? First, Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish pation I will anger you. But Ésaiás is very bold, and saith, I was found of them that sought me not; I was made manifest to them that asked not after me.”
Thus you see how the light of the gospel, which first began , to dawn and glimmer immediately after the fall, gradually increases the nearer we come to Christ's time. ' X. Another thing by which God carried on this work in this time, was a remarkable pouring out of his Spirit on the young generation in the wilderness. The generation that was grown up when they came out of Egypt, from twenty years old and upward, was a very froward and perverse generation. They were tainted with the idolatry and wickedness of Egypt, and were not weaned from it, as the Prophet Ezekiel takes notice, Ezek. xx. 6, 7, 8. Hence they made the golden calf in imitation of the idolatry of Egypt, that was wont to worship a bull or an ox; and therefore cattle are called the abomination of the Egyptians, i. e. their idol. This generation God was exceeding angry with, and swore in his wrath, that they should not enter into his rest. But the younger generation were not so; the generation that were under twenty years old when they came out of Egypt, and those that were born in the wilderness, the generation spoken of, Numb. xiv. 31: “But your Jittle ones, whom ye said should be a prey, them will I bring in; and they shall know the land that ye have despised.” This was the generation with whom the covenant was renewed, as we have an account in Deuteronomy, and that entered into the land of Canaan. This generation God was pleased to make a generation to his praise, and they were eminent for piety ; as appears by many things said in Scripture about them; as, particularly, Jer. Ü. 2,3: “I remember thee, the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals, when thou wentest after me in the wilderness, in a land that was not sown. Israel was holiness to the Lord, and the first fruits of his increase." Here the generation that went after God in the wilderness, is spoken of with very high commendations, as eminent for holiness; “ Israel was holiness to the Lord, and the first fruits of his increase.” And their love to God is spoken of as distinguished, like the love of a bride at her espousals. The going after God in the wilderness that is here spoken of, is not the going of the children of Israel out of Egypt into the wilderness of Sinai, but their following God through that dreadful wilderness, that the congregation long wandered in, after they went back from Kadesh Barnea, which is spoken of Deut. viii. 15: “ Who led thee through the great and terrible wilderness, wherein were fiery serpents and scorpions, and drought, where there was no water.” Though this generation had a much greater trial than the generation of their fathers had before they came to Kadesh Barnea, yet they never murmured against God in any wise, as their fathers had done : but their trials had a contrary effect upon them, to awaken them, convince, and humble them, and fit them for great mercy. They were awakened by those awful judgments of God that he inflicted on their fathers, whereby their carcasses fell in the wilderness. And God poured out bis Spirit with those awakening providences towards their fathers, and their own travel in the wilderness, and the word preached to them by Moses; whereby they were greatly awakened, and made to see the badness of their own hearts, and were humbled, and at length multitudes of them savingly converted, as Deut. viii. 2, 3: “ And thou shalt remember the way which the Lord thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldst keep his commandments, or no. And he humbled thee,” &c. And verse 15, “ Who led thee through that great and terrible wilderness, that he might humble thee, and that he might prove thee, to do thee good at thy latter end.” And therefore it is said, Hos. xiii. 5, “I did know thee in the wilderness, in the land of great drought.” God allured them, and brought them into that wilderness, and spake comfortably to them, as it was foretold that he would do afterwards, Hos. ii. 14.
Those terrible judgments that were executed in the congregation after their turning back from Kadesh Barnea, in the matter of Korah, and the matter of Peor, were chiefly on the old generation, whom God consumed in the wilderness. Those rebellions were chiefly among the elders of the congregation, who were of the older generation that God had given up to their hearts' lust; and they walked in their own counsels, and God was grieved with their man.ners forty years in the wilderness.
. But that this younger congregation were eminent for piety, appears by all their history. The former generation were wicked, and were followed with (surses ; but this was holy, and wonderful blessings followed them. God did great things for them ; he fought for them, and gave them the possession of Canaan. And it is God's manner, when he hath very great mercies to bestow on a visible people, first, to fit them for them, and then to bestow them on them. So it was here : they believed in God, and by faith overcame Sihon and Og, and the giants of Canaan; and are commended for cleaving to the Lord, Josh. xxij. 8: Joshua says unto them, “ Cleave unto the Lord, as ye have done unto this day.” And so Israel did all the while that generation lived. But when Joshua and all that generation were dead, there arose another generation that knew not the Lord. This pious generation showed a laudable and fervent zeal for God on several occasions ; on occasion of Achan's sin; but especially when they suspected the two tribes and a half had set up an altar in opposition to the altar of burnt-offering. There never was any