Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

their typical worship, and those things wherein the gospel is veiled, and of the forming of that people, both as to their civil and ecclesiastical state.

It seems exceeding necessary that we should have some account of their being actually brought to Canaan, the country that was their promised land, and where they always dwelt. It seems very necessary that we should have a history of the successions of the church of Israel, and of those providences of God towards them, which were most considerable and fullest of gospel mystery. It seems necessary that we should have some account of the highest promised external glory of that nation under David and Solomon, and that we should have a very particular account of David, whose history is so full of the gospel, and so necessary in order to introduce the gospel into the world, and in whom began the race of their kings; and that we should have some account of the building of the temple, which was also so full of gospel mystery.

And it is a matter of great consequence, that we should have some account of Israel's dividing from Judah, and of the ten tribes' captivity and utter rejection, and a brief account why, and therefore a brief history of them till that time. It is necessary that we should have an account of the succession of the kings of Judah, and of the church, till their captivity into Babylon; and that we should have some account of their return from their captivity, and resettlement in their own land, and of the origin of the last state that the church was in before Christ came.

A little consideration will convince every one, that all these things were necessary, and that none of them could be spared ; and in the general, that it was necessary that we should have a history of God's church till such times as are within the reach of human histories; and it was of rast importance that we should have an inspired history of those times of the Jewish church, wherein there was kept up a more extraordinary intercourse between God and them, and while he used to dwell amung them as it were visibly, revealing himself by the Shechinah, by Urim and Thummim, and by prophecy, and so more immediately to order their affairs. And it was necessary that we should have some account of the great dispensations of God in prophecy, which were to be after the finishing of inspired history; and so it was exceeding suitable and needful that there should be a nuinber of prophets raised up who should foretell the coming of the Son of God, and the nature and glory of his kingdom, to be as so many harbingers to make way for him, and that their prophecies should remain in the church.

It was also a matter of great consequence that the church should have a book of divine songs given by inspiration from God, wherein there should be a lively representation of the true spirit of devotion, of faith, hope, and divine love, joy, resignation, humility, obedience, repentance, &c.; and also that we should have from God such books of moral instructions as we have in Proverbs and Ecclesiastes, relating to the affairs and state of mankind, and the concerns of human life, containing rules of true wisdom and prudence for our conduct in all circumstances; and that we should have particularly a song representing the great love between Christ and his spouse the church, particularly adapted to the disposition and holy affections of a true Christian soul towards Christ, and representing his grace and marvellous love to, and delight in his people; as we have in Solomon's Song; and especially that we should have a book to teach us how to conduct ourselves under affliction, seeing the church of God here is in a militant state, and God's people do, through much tribulation, enter into the kingdom of heaven ; and the church is for so long a time under trouble, and meets with such exceedingly fiery trials, and extreme sufferings

before her time of peace and rest in the latter ages of the world shall come: therefore God has given us a book most proper in these circumstances, even the book of Job, written upon occasion of the afflictions of a particular saint, and was probably at first given to the church in Egypt under her afflictions there; and is made use of by the apostle to comfort Christians under persecutions, James v. 11 : “ Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.” God was also pleased, in this book of Job, to give some view of the ancient divinity, before the giving of the law.

Thus, from this brief review, I think it appears that every part of the Scrip tures of the Old Testament is very useful and necessary, and no part of it can be spared, without loss to the church. And therefore, as I said, the wisdom of God is conspicuous in ordering that the Scriptures of the Old Testament should consist of those very books of which they do consist.

Before I dismiss this particular, I would add, that it is very observable, that the history of the Old Testament is large and particular, where the great affair of redemption required it; as where there was most done towards this work, and most to typify Christ, and to prepare the way for him. Thus it is very large and particular in the history of Abraham and the other patriarchs; but very short in the account we have of the time which the children of Israel spent in Egypt. So again it is large in the account of the redemption out of Egypt, and the first settling of the affairs of the Jewish church and nation in Moses and Joshua's time; but much shorter in the account of the times of the judges. So again, it is large and particular in the account of David's and Solomon's times, and then very short in the history of the ensuing reigns. Thus the ac- . counts are large or short, just as there is more or less of the affair of redemption to be seen in them.

V. From what has been said, we may see, that Christ and his redemption are the great subject of the whole Bible. Concerning the New Testament, the matter is plain ; and by what has been said on this subject hitherto, it appears to be so also with respect to the Old Testament. Christ and his redemption is the great subject of the prophecies of the Old Testament, as has been shown. It has also been shown, that he is the great subject of the songs of the Old Testament; and the moral rules and precepts are all given in subordination to him. And Christ and his redemption are also the great subject of the bistory of the Old Testament, from the beginning all along; and even the history of the creation is brought in, as an introduction to the history of redemption that immediately follows it. The whole book, both Old Testament and New, is filled up with the gospel; only with this difference, that the Old Testament contains the gospel under a veil, but the New contains it unveiled, so that we may see the glory of the Lord with open face.

VI. By what has been said, we may see the usefulness and excellency of the Old Testament. Some are ready to look on the Old Testament as being, as it were, out of date, and as if we, in these days of the gospel, bave but little to do with it; which is a very great mistake, arising from the want of observing the nature and design of the Old Testament, which, if it were observed, would appear full of the gospel of Christ, and would in an excellent manner illustrate and confirm the glorious doctrines and promises of the New Testament. Those parts of the Old Testament which are commonly looked upon as containing the least divine instruction, are as it were mines and treasures of gospel knowledge; and the reason why they are tho'ight to contain so little, is, because persons do but superficially read them T he treasures which are hid VOL. I.

50

underneath are not observed. They only look on the top of the ground, and so suddenly pass a judgment that there is nothing there. But they never dig into the mine: if they did, they would find it richly stored with silver and gold, and would be abundantly requited for their pains.

What has been said, may show us what a precious treasure God has committed into our hands, in that he has given us the Bible. How little do most persons consider, how much they enjoy, in that they have the possession of that holy book the Bible, which they have in their hands, and may converse with it as they please. What an excellent book is this, and how far exceeding all human writings, that reveals God to us, and gives us a view of the grand design and glorious scheme of Providence from the beginning of the world, either in history or prophecy; that reveals the great Redeemer and his glorious redemption, and the various steps by which God accomplishes it from the first foundation to the topstone! Shall we prize a history which gives us a clear account of some great earthly prince, or mighty warrior, as of Alexander the Great, or Julius Cesar, or the Duke of Marlborough ? And shall we not prize the history that God gives us of the glorious kingdom of his Son Jesus Christ, the Prince and Saviour, and of the wars and other great transactions of that King of kings, and Lord of armies, the Lord mighty in battle? The history of the things which he has wrought for the redemption of his chosen people ?

VII. What has been said, may make us sensible how much most persons are to blame for their inattentive, unobservant way of reading the Scriptures. How much do the Scriptures contain, if it were but observed! The Bible is the most comprehensive book in the world. But what will all this signify to us, if we read it without observing what is the drift of the Holy Ghost in it? The Psalmist, Psal. cxix. 18, begs of God," that he would enlighten his eyes, that he might behold wondrous things out of his law." The Scriptures are full of wondrous things. Those histories which are commonly read as if they were only histories of the private concerns of such and such particular persons, such as the histories of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and Joseph, and the history of Ruth, and the histories of particular lawgivers and princes, as the history of Joshua and the Judges, and David, and the Israelitish princes, are accounts of vastly greater things, things of greater importance, and more extensive concernment, than they that read them are commonly aware of.

The histories of Scripture are commonly read as if they were stories written only to entertain men's fancies, and to while away their leisure hours, when the infinitely great things contained or pointed at in them are passed over and never taken notice of. Whatever treasures the Scriptures contain, we shall be never the better for them if we do not observe them. He that has a Bible, and does not observe what is contained in it, is like a man who has a box full of silver and gold, and does not know it, does not observe that it is any thing more than a vessel filled with common stones. As long as it is thus with him, he will be never the better for his treasure : for he that knows not that he has a treasure, will never make use of what he has, and so might as well be without it. He who has a plenty of the choicest food stored up in his house, and does not know it, will never taste what he has, and will be as likely to starve as if his house were empty.

VIII. What has been said, may show us how great a person Jesus Christ is, and how great an errand he came into the world upon, seeing there was so much done to prepare the way for his coming. God had been doing nothing else but prepare the way for his coming, and doing the work which he had to do in the world, through all ages of the world from the very beginning. If

we had notice of a certain stranger's being about to come into a country, and should observe that a great preparation was made for his coming, that many months were taken up in it, and great things were done, many great alterations were made in the state of the whole country, and that many hands were employed, and persons of great note were engaged in making preparation for the coming of this person, and the whole country was overturned, and all the affairs and concerns of the country were ordered so as to be subservient to the design of entertaining that person when he should come; it would be natural for us to think with ourselves, why, surely, this person is some extraordinary person indeed, and it is some very great business that he is coming upon.

How great a person then must he be, for whose coming into the world the great God of heaven and earth, and governor of all things, spent four thousand years in preparing the way, going about it soon after the world was created, and from age to age doing great things, bringing mighty events to pass, accomplishing wonders without number, often overturning the world in order to it, and causing every thing in the state of mankind, and all revolutions and changes in the habitable world from generation to generation to be subservient to this great design! Surely this must be some great and extraordinary person indeed, and a great work indeed it must needs be that he is coming about.

We read, Matt. xxi. 8, 9, 10, that when Christ was coming into Jerusalem, and the multitudes ran before him and cut down branches of" palm trees, and strewed them in the way, and others spread their garments in the way, and cried, “Hosannah to the son of David," that the whole city was moved, saying, Who is this? They wondered who that extraordinary person should be, that there should be such an ado made on occasion of his coming into the city, and to prepare the way before him. But if we consider what has been said on this subject, what great things were done in all ages to prepare the way for Christ's coming into the world, and how the world was often overturned to make way for it, much more may we cry out, Who is this? What great person is this? And say, as in Psal. xxiv. 8, 10, “Who is this King of glory,” that God should show such respect, and put such vast honor upon him ? Surely this person is honorable indeed in God's eyes, and greatly beloved of him ; and surely it is a great errand upon which he is sent into the world.

PERIOD II.

HAVING shown how the work of redemption was carried on through the first period, from the fall of man to the incarnation of Christ, I come now to the second period, viz., the time of Christ's humiliation, or the space from the incarnation of Christ to his resurrection. And this is the most remarkable article of time that ever was or ever will be.—Though it was but between thirty and forty years, yet more was done in it than had been done from the beginning of the world to that time. We have observed, that all that had been done from the fall to the incarnation of Christ, was only preparatory for what was done now. And it may also be observed, that all that was done before the beginning of time, in the eternal counsels of God, and that eternal transaction there was between the persons of the Trinity, chiefly respected this period. We therefore now proceed to consider the second proposition, viz.,

That during the time of Christ's humiliation, from his incarnation to his resurrection, the purchase of redemption was made.

Though there were many things done in the affair of redemption from the fall of man to this time, though millions of sacrifices had been offered up; yet nothing was done to purchase redemption before Christ's incarnation : no part of the purchase was made, no part of the price was offered till now. But as soon as Christ was incarnate, then the purchase began immediately without any delay. And the whole time of Christ's humiliation, from the morning that Christ began to be incarnate, till the morning that he rose from the dead, was taken up in this purchase. And then the purchase was entirely and completely finished. As nothing was done before Christ's incarnation, so nothing was done after his resurrection, to purchase redemption for men. Nor will there ever be any thing more done to all eternity. But that very moment that the human nature of Christ ceased to remain under the power of death, the utmost farthing was paid of the price of the salvation of every one of the elect.

But for the more orderly and regular consideration of the great things done by our Redeemer to purchase redemption for us,

1. I would speak of Christ's becoming incarnate to capacitate himself for this purchase;—and,

2. I would speak of the purchase itself.

PART I.

First, I would consider Christ's coming into the world, or his taking upon him our nature to put himself in a capacity to purchase redemption for us. Christ became incarnate, or, which is the same thing, became man, to put himself in a capacity for working out our redemption : for though Christ, as God, was infinitely sufficient for the work, yet to his being in an immediate capacity for it, it was needful that he should not only be God, but man. If Christ had remained only in the divine nature, he would not have been in a capacity to have purchased our salvation; not from any imperfection of the divine nature, but by reason of its absolute and infinite perfection : for Christ, merely as God, was not capable either of that obedience or suffering that was needful. The divine nature is not capable of suffering; for it is infinitely above all suffering. Neither is it capable of obedience to that law that was given to man. It is as impossible that one who is only God, should obey the law that was given to man, as it is that he should suffer man's punishment.

And it was necessary not only that Christ should take upon him a created nature, but that he should take upon him our nature. It would not have sufficed for us for Christ to bave become an angel, and to have obeyed and suffered in the angelic nature. But it was necessary that he should become a man, and that upon three accounts.

1. It was needful to answer the law, that that nature should obey the law, to which the law was given. Man's law could not be answered, but by being obeyed by man. God insisted upon it, that the law which he had given to man should be honored and submitted to, and fulfilled by the nature of man, otherwise the law could not be answered for men. The words that were spo

« AnteriorContinuar »