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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
а 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 were 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 neighbouring 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 former acquaintance come from the country that he came from, to visit him. They in a most outrageous manper 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 mada 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 some 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 sérved. 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 seryed
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 all 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 Abraham 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 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. VOL. II.
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 drew 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. l. 20. “ But as for you ye thought evil against me ; but God meant it unto good, to save much people alive.” Hov 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 sal-, vation 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 prince and saviour to his brethren, and received gifts for men, even for the rebellious, and them that hated, and had sold him.
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 beiore, 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. “ !udah, thou art he whom thy brethren