« AnteriorContinuar »
the law God appears as a just and holy Being, insisting upon that which is right; but there his mercy is not seen. It is a transcript of his own mind; and as he cannot do otherwise than will that his creatures should love him, and do what is right, he can never dispense with this law either in this world or that which is to come; but in the bestowment of heaven on those who believe in Christ, he appears to act in his own sovereign right, suspending or altering the course of his own law, and taking its penalty at the hands of his own Son instead of punishing
the sinner himself. In the one case the Almighty · is seen in the character of a judge, or minister
of justice, who has no power to free the guilty ; but in the other he is to be considered as the governor, or lawgiver, who may, by pure right, take such a course in the execution of his moral law as seems best pleasing to himself, and shall fully answer the ends of his government. The bestowment of heaven is especially upon this principle: it is what originated in himself,
the result of his own love to our guilty world, · and according to the arrangement of his own infinite wisdom.
2. Claim, therefore, in the sense in which the term is generally used, there can be none.
Could any person be found whose obedience, both active and passive, should perfectly meet the demands of the law, that person might look for salvation on the ground of desert; but anticipating that blessing in connection with a promise is a very different thing. Here the expectation created does not rest so much upon anything in the person to whom it is made as
upon the validity of the promise itself, and the faithfulness of him from whom it emanates.
Now the ground upon which Abraham was commended and blessed of God was not his being perfect or worthy; for, had that been the case, the inheritance would have been a reward, in which character it is never spoken of in the Scriptures; but God was pleased, of his own unmerited goodness, to give a promise which originated with himself, and in due time that promise was fulfilled. Hence the Apostle declares, “For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of. promise ; but God gave it to Abraham by promise.”* As Canaan was 'pot awarded to Abraham as a reward of his obedience, much less could this be the case with his descendants, whose rebellions are so often made the ground of complaint; but it was through God's promise to their great ancestor, and to them in him, and the Divine faithfulness in fulfilling the word he had spoken. Heaven, then, is to be received as the fulfilment of a promise originating in the free, sovereign mercy of God given to Jesus Christ as the Head of his church, and to all his people in him, in consideration of his obedience and death, and is embraced by faith : “Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness." op
III. Canaan was a rest given to special persons," the people of God." So the Jews, to whom it was first offered, were designated, * Gal. iii. 18.
+ Rom. iv. 4.
because they had been chosen of God and trained by him. They were distinguished by peculiarities of his appointing, and maintained his worship among them. In the same way believers are addressed as “a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people, that they should show forth the praises of him who has called them out of darkness into his marvellous light.
To persons answering this description the possession of Canaan was restricted; for them the original inhabitants were driven out, or brought into subjection, nor could the claims of any others be admitted. So heaven is the “inheritance of the saints in light.”+ It was to his own people that Christ said, “I go to prepare a place for you.” I As the descendants of Abraham were known to be the people of God by certain peculiarities which he had imposed upon them, in like manner the people of God are now distinguished by a strong line of demarcation : “They are not of the world, even as Christ was not of the world.” They walk even as he walked,|| and make it manifest that they are his by the manner in which they identify themselves with his honour and glory.
1. This rest is for them collectively; for the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews speaks of heaven under the idea of keeping a sabbath : but this is an observance which implies number, harmony, and reciprocal enjoyment. Though it is true likewise that each believer, upon entering the celestial world, has his perfection of * 1 Pet. ii. 9. + Col. i. 12. 1 John xiv. 2.
§ John xvii. 16. || 1 John ii. 6.
bliss, so far as he is personally concerned, and the state of things will admit, yet it is at the last, when Christ shall appear, “to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe,"* that the enjoyment shall be complete. Hence it is said of the departed Old Testament saints, that they “ all died in faith, not having received the promises ; God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.” There are many things essential to the entire blessedness of the saints that will require their reunion and mutual interest. Future recognition amongst the people of God, as well as personal identity, seems to be necessary to perfect happiness; and the Scripture appears to encourage the idea that it will take place. Such is the nature of the providence of God, and the bearing which one event has upon another, that without seeing it in its vast extent, and how it has affected others as well as our. selves, the mystery involved in it cannot be fully disclosed to admiration; but
“ Then all the chosen seed
Shall meet around the throne,
And make his wonders known.”
2. Personally. Canaan was the possession of God's ancient people, not only in their collective capacity, but each tribe and family had a right to the whole, and every individual a personal property in it, so that it was given as really and as much to particular individuals as to the nation at large. The relation to Abra* 2 Thess. i. 10.
+ Heb. xi. 40.
ham being once proved, every person by whom it was claimed felt that his right stood independent of that of others, and there was no good that the whole land possessed but, if required, was to be brought to serve the interest of every one or any one.
In the same way the choice which God has made of his people in Christ Jesus is of a personal character, every one of the redeemed is given to Christ. Every name is written in the Lamb's Book of Life. The atonement which he made was designed for each. And to each the promise of life is made, so that every one who is united to Christ by a living faith, may say, “He loved me, and gave himself for me;" and this consciousness of individual interest in the great and glorious work of redemption, will remain for ever the impression of the saints in glory.
THE DELIVERANCE OF THE JEWS OUT OF THE
LAND OF EGYPT. “ Behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Hérod will seek the young child to destroy him. When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt: and was there until the death of Herod; that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my Son,” Matt. ii. 13–15.
In illustrating these words, and applying them