Imatges de pÓgina

thing that God ordered in his providence to prepare the way for Christ's coming, and the great salvation he was to accomplish in the world; for it was only to prepare the way for the more glorious and signal victory and triumph of Christ's power and grace over the wicked and miserable world, and that Christ's salvation of the world of mankind might become the more sensible. This is the account the scripture itself gives us of the matter, Rom. xi. 30, 31, 32. The apostle there speaking to the Gentiles that had formerly been Heathens, says, “ As ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief; even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy. For God hath concluded thein all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all." i. e. It was the will of God, that the whole world, Jews and Gentiles, should be concluded in visible and professed unbelief, that so God's mercy and Christ's salvation towards them all might be visible and sensible. For the apostle is not speaking only of that unbelief that is natural to all God's professing people as well as others, but that which appears, and is visible ; such as the Jews fell into, when they openly rejected Christ, and ceased to be a professing people. The apostle observes, how that first the Gentiles, even the Gentile nations, were included in a professed unbelief and open opposition to the true religion, before Christ came, to prepare the way for the calling of the Gentiles, which was soon after Christ came, that God's mercy might be the more visible to them ; and that the Jews were rejected, and apostatized from the visible church, to prepare the way for the calling of the Jews, which shall be in the latter days : So that it may be seen of all nations, Jews and Gentiles, that they are visibly redeemed by Christ, from being visibly aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, without hope, and without God in the world.

We cannot determine precisely at what time the apos tacy of the Gentile nations from the true God, or their being concluded in visible unbelief, became universal. Their falling away was a gradual thing, as we observed before. It was general in Abraham's time, but not universal : For then


we find Melchisedec, one of the kings of Canaan, was priest of the most high God. And after this the true religion was kept up for a while among some of the rest of Abraham's posterity, besides the family of Jacob; and also in some of the posterity of Nahor, as we have instances of, in Job, and his three friends, and Elihu. The land of Uz, where Job lived, was a land possessed by the posterity of Uz, or Huz, the son of Nahor, Abraham's brother, of whom we read, Gen. xxii. 21. Bildad the Shuhite was of the offspring of Shuah, Abraham's son by Keturah, Gen. xxv. 1, 2 ; and Elihu.the Buzite, was of Buz the son of Nahor, the brother of Abraham. So the true religion lasted among some other people, besides the Israelites, a while after Abraham. But it did not last long; and it is probable that the time of their total rejection, and giving up to idolatry, was about the time when God separated the children of Israel from Egypt to serve him ; for they are often put in mind on that occasion, that God had now separated them to be his peculiar people ; or to be distinguished from all other people upon earth, to be his people alone : To be his portion, when others were rejected. This seems to hold forth thus much to us, that God now chose them in such a manner, that" this visible choice of them was accompanied with a visible rejection of all other nations in the world ; that God visibly came, and took up his residence with them, as forsaking all other nations.

And so, as the first calling of the Gentiles after Christ came, was accompanied with a rejection of the Jews ; so the first calling of the Jews to be God's people, when they were called out of Egypt, was accompanied with a rejection of the Gentiles.

Thus all the Gentile nations throughout the whole world, all nations, but only the Israelites, and those that embodied themselves with them, were left and given up to idolatry; and so continued a great many ages, even from this time till Christ came, which was about fifteen hundred years. They were concluded so long a time in unbelief, that there might be a thorough proof of the necessity of a Saviour ; that it might appear by so long a trial, past all contradiction, that


mankind were utterly insufficient to deliver themselves from that gross darkness and misery, and subjection to the devil, that they had fallen under ; that it might appear that all the wisdom of the philosophers, and the wisest men that the Heathen had among them, could not deliver them from their darkness, for the greater glory to Jesus Christ, who, when he came, enlightened and delivered them by his glorious gospel. Herein the wonderful wisdom of God appeared, in thus preparing the way for Christ's redemption. This the scripture teaches us, as in 1 Cor. i. 21. “ For after that, in the wisdom of God, the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe."

Here I might consider as another work of God, whereby the general work of redemption was carried on, that wonderful deliverance which he wrought for the children of Israel at the Red Sea, when they were pursued by the hosts of the Egyptians, and were just ready to be swallowed up by them, there being, to human appearance, no possibility of an escape. But as this may be referred to their redemption out of Egypt, and considered as a part of that more general work, I shall not further enlarge upon it.

III. The next thing that I shall take notice of here, that was done towards the work of redemption, is God's giving the moral law in so awful a manner at Mount Sinai. This was another new thing that God did, a new step taken in this great affair. Deut. iv. 33. “ Did ever a people hear the voice of God speaking out of the midst of the fire, as thou hast heard, and live ?” And it was a great thing that God did towards this work, and that whether we consider it as delivered as a new exhibition of the covenant of works, or given as a rule of life.

The covenant of works was here exhibited to be as a schoolmaster to lead to Christ, not only for the use of that nation in the ages of the Old Testament, but for the use of God's church throughout all ages of the world ; as an instrument that the great Redeemer makes use of to convince men of their sin and misery, and helpless state, and of God's awful and tremendous majesty and justice as a lawgiver, and so to make men sensible of the necessity of Christ as a Saviour. The


work of redemption, in its saving effect on men's souls, in all the progress of it to the end of it, is not carried on without the use of this law that was now delivered at Sinai.

It was given in an awful manner, with a terrible voice, exceedingly loud and awful, so that all the people that were in the camp trembled; and Moses himself, though so intimato a friend of God, yet said, I exceedingly fear and quake; the voice being accompanied with thunders and lightnings, the mountain burning with fire to the midst of heaven, and the earth itself shaking and trembling ; to make all sensible how great that authority, power, and justice was, that stood engaged to exact the fulfilment of this law, and to see it fully exea cuted; and how strictly God would require the fulfilment; and how terrible his wrath would be against every breaker of it; that men being sensible of these things, might have a thorough trial of themselves, and might prove their own hearts, and know how impossible it is for them to have salvation by the works of the law, and might see the absolute necessity they stood in of a mediator.

If we regard this law now given at Mount Sinai, not as the covenant of works, but as a rule of life ; so it is made use of by the Redeemer, from that time to the end of the world, as a directory to his people, to show them the way in which they must walk as they would go to heaven : For a way of sincere and universal obedience to this law is the narrow way that leads to life.

IV. The next thing that is observable in this period, was God's giving the typical law, in which I suppose to be included most or all those precepts that were given by Moses, that did not properly belong to the moral law ; not only those laws

; that are commonly called ceremonial, in distinction from judicial laws, which are the laws prescribing the ceremonies and circumstances of the Jewish worship, and their ecclesiastical state ; but also many, if not all those divine laws that were political, and for regulating the Jewish commonwealth, commonly called judicial laws; these were at best many of them typical. The giving this typical law was another great thing that God did in this period, tending to build up this glorious

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structure of redemption that God had been carrying on from the beginning of the world. There had been many typical events of Providence before, that represented Christ and his redemption, and some typical ordinances, as particularly those two of sacrifices and circumcision : But now, instead of representing the great Redeemer in a few institutions, God gives forth a law full of nothing else but various and innumerable typical representations of good things to come, by which that nation were directed how, every year, month, and day, in their religious actions, and in their conduct of themselves, in all that appertained to their ecclesiastical and civil state, to show forth something of Christ ; one observance showing one thing, exhibiting one doctrine, or one benefit; another, another; so that the whole nation by this law was, as it were, constituted in a typical state. Thus the gospel was abundantly held forth to that nation ; so that there is scarce any doctrine of it, but is particularly taught and exhibited by some observance of this law; though it was in shadows, and under a vail, as Moses put a yail on his face when it shone.

To this typical law belong all the precepts that relate to building the tabernacle that was set up in the wilderness, and all the form, circumstances, and utensils of it.

V. About this time was given to God's church the first written word of God that ever was enjoyed by God's people. This was another great thing done towards the affair of redemption, a new and glorious advancement of the 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 hence forward to the end of the world ; which rule grew, and was added to from

1 ; that time, for many ages, till it was finished, and the canon of scripture completed by the Apostle John. 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,

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