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A RELIGIOUS AND LITERARY JOURNAL.
"AS EVERY MAN HATH RECEIVED THE GIFT, SO MINISTER THE SAME ONE TO Another,'
THURSDAY, JUNE 25, 1829.
BAPTIST MISSIONARY SOCIETY.
ANNUAL SERMON FOR THE ABOVE SOCIETY, PREACHED AT THE CITY ROAD CHAPEL, ON WEDNESDAY, JUNE 17, 1829.
"For if that which was done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth
A little attention to the word of God will
the very notion of the existence of a God, if he had not been pleased to interpose, by many striking and remarkable appearances, for the preservation of his name and worship in the world. He did, however, so interpose. He did strikingly appear at different times to the Patriarchs, and, though the information communicated to them was as a light shining in a dark place, yet it was sufficient to enlighten their path. Enoch, Noah, and others, "walked with God," and worshipped him "in spirit, and in truth." Though under less clear discoveries of the divine will, than after ages,they embraced the same hopes, and depended upon the mercy God would exercise through a deliverer, who, in the fulness of time, was to appear upon earth. God told them, and through them, all successive generations, that "the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head." They were taught to believe, that the benefit of the Redeemer's atonement would be as extensive as man's apostacy, and that all future nations would be alike interested in God's mercy. The promise was afterwards made to Isaac and Jacob, that in their seed should all the nations of the earth be blessed. Here it was evidently declared, that at some future period, a plan should be revealed, much more efficacious than that with which they were conversant; that an universal benefit should be bestowed on the world; and that a blessing should spring from one of their descendants, designed to extend to all the nations of the earth. To Jacob a similar intimation was given, and he foretold the gathering of the Gen
tiles to the feet of Shiloh, and the departure of the sceptre from Judah. Notwithstanding the special privileges assigned to the posterity of the Patriarchs, yet neither they nor their children had any exclusive benefit in that Shiloh, but the benefits of his person were to be marked by the impress of universality.
It is true, the law of Moses, at first glance, appears less catholic than that of the patriarchs. The dispensation of the law seems to be exclusive. Its whole ritual was designed for a particular people but even here, the designs of God were not withheld from his people; the Israelites were not left to gather the truth merely in the way of intimation. Moses solemnly announced to them that they were to expect a prophet like unto himself. In what respects was he to resemble him? In being a sovereign, as well as a legislator. The manifestation of this king and Saviour, together with the various offices he was to sustain, forms, with increasing clearness, the grand theme of most of those that succeeded Moses in the prophetic function. To Moses himself God declared, "As truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord." And the ancient prophets delivered predictions, foretelling the call of the Gentiles-the universal extension of evangelical blessings and the perpetuity of the Redeemer's kingdom.
It is in reference to the dispensation of Moses, as compared with the superior glory of the christian economy, that St. Paul employs the language of the text. He is talking of the ministry of the gospel, and commending it in preference to that of the law. In reference to certain judaising teachers, who disturbed the church at Corinth, he tells them, "the letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life. For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory."
It is foreign to our present purpose to dilate upon the design for which the apostle introduced the remarkable context-all that we shall attempt will be to spiritualize the sentiments contained in the text itself. For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious." That is to say, if the economy which was destined to be annihilated was delivered with such a striking display of grandeur, how much more glorious must that economy
be, which is designed to be permanent. Or according to the more literal force of the passage-if that which is abolished, is abolished by a greater glory; the gospel, the dispensation which remaineth, certainly remaineth in glory superior to any which the abolished dispensation ever possessed.
Thus the apostle intimates that the excellency of the gospel above the law is demonstrated by its superior splendour, and by its remaining without being succeeded by any subsequent dispensation. We propose
I. To consider the glory of the Mosaic economy.
II. To speak of the glory of the Christian economy.
We are to consider
I. THE GLORY OF THE MOSAIC
The entire design of this dispensation was preparatory to that of the gospel of Christ. This design is comprised in two objects, to the promotion of which every part of the system was made subservient, namely, to preserve among the Israelites the knowledge and worship of the true God, and to maintain among them the expectation of the promised Messiah. The glory, therefore, of this economy, and its intrinsic value, must be estimated by its adaptation to promote these objects, and by its success in preparing the way for the perpetuity of the gospel. Accordingly, we shall find that every thing in the dispensation of Moses had a reference to these ends, and the more we investigate the whole system, keeping in view these ends, together with the character of Israel and the surrounding nations, the more shall we see that even the most minute laws were formed with consummate wisdom, and enjoined for some benevolent purpose. We remark, that the glory of the Mosaic dispensation appears
1st. In the purity of the principles it inculcated. What was the state of the world at the time when God appeared to Moses in the burning bush, and commissioned him to deliver his people out of Egypt? It may be stated in few words. With the exception of that small tribe that had the honour of being God's peculiar people the whole world had apostatized from him. They substituted for the worship of God, the adoration of the sun, moon, stars, fire, air, and all the other elements of nature. They deified their fellow-creatures: they worshipped
stocks and stones, and idols, the most absurd and abominable. This defection from God was connected with every vice that could degrade human nature, or pollute human society. The best affections of the heart were subdued or overthrown by the omnipotence of terror, and the most unnatural cruelties were committed with a view to appease the wrath of their avenging deities. Moses did not hesitate to charge upon the nations of the earth the most absurd and vile cruelties. "Enquire not (says he) after their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their gods? even so will I do likewise. Thou shalt not do so unto the Lord thy God; for every abomination to the Lord, which he hateth, have they done unto their gods; for even their sons and their daughters they have burnt in the fire to their gods." As their idolatry led to the most ferocious cruelty, as it encouraged and sanctioned the basest pollution, it was the grand characteristic of the Mosaic dispensation that it created a knowledge of the supreme Jehovah, and of his perfections; and that it enjoined the practice of every moral duty. The principles of obedience to God, were presented to Israel with numerous instances of rewards to the righteous, and punishments to the disobedient. The whole dispensation was distinguished by the purity of its principles. Hence the lofty elevation which the minds of the Hebrew poets and prophets attained. They were inspired with strains of devotion that had never been equalled, and never could be exceeded. The gods of the heathen had their poets, and when they were most successful, their brilliant thoughts were inspired by the works of art. Not so the Hebrew poets :-they were inspired by the sublimity of divine truth, which they expressed in the most devotional language-language flowing from the dictates of their hearts: they indulged in the most glowing expressions, but they spoke and felt like men filled with matchless grace and unbounded goodness: for their God, self is forgotten: they appear like persons animated before the throne of the Eternal. Hear David sing, "Whither shall I go from thy Spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up to heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold thou art there: if I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there shall thy hand lead me, 2 A 2
and thy right hand shall hold me: if I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me: yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee." Nor do we confine our attention to the sublime devotion of the Hebrew poets. We shall find principles equally pure in their vocal precepts; which were strongly enforced both by Moses and by many of his successors in the legislative office. Acts, which, in the refinement of moral philosophy, are termed virtuous or otherwise, as holy or unholy, righteous or sinful, as they exposed the person either to the approbation or the displeasure of God, are incessantly placed before the eyes of the people. It was under the influence of this system that Elijah and Elisha, Hezekiah and David were taught to preserve that pure and holy principle which actuated them. God himself often and signally interposed. He manifested himself in the most glorious and significant manner. Sometimes in the fire, as when he appeared to Moses in the bush; sometimes in clouds and thunder and lightning, as when he gave the ten commandments upon the summit of Sinai; sometimes in a chariot of fire, as to Ezekiel; sometimes on a throne high and lifted up, and surrounded by cherubim and seraphim, as he appeared to Isaiah. To preserve these principles in their purity, God did not hesitate to inflict the most severe punishments upon the transgressors of his commandments. Witness his conduct even to Moses himself, who having by one act displeased the Lord was not permitted to enter the land, to the borders of which he had conducted the Israelites, with such indefatigable zeal. He who had sustained so many conflicts with the presumptuous nations around him, in a moment of vanity arrogated to himself a power independent of that Being in whose name he was appointed to act. This conduct had a tendency to withdraw the confidence of the people from the Supreme Ruler. What was the consequence? "And the Lord spake unto Moses and Aaron, Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel; therefore ye shall not bring the congregation into the land which I have given them." With such strictness does God enforce the high principle that he had himself communicated.
2ndly. In the typical significancy of the rites and ceremonies which it appointed.― What, my friends, is a type? A type has been defined, a rough draft, a pattern or model, from which a more perfect image is made." The typical events recorded in the Old Testament, are recognized in the New. Through Christ, the shadow is well understood by the substance, and a type is now a significant evidence. But was it so to the ancient Israelites? In answer to this enquiry, some persons have said, "No : it was impossible that the types could be understood, because there was no discovery of their principle given by Moses." Hence these persons content themselves with representing the striking regulations, and splendid ordinances of the Mosaic law, simply in the light of a cautionary means to preserve the Hebrews, as a distinct people, from the surrounding nations;means having in themselves a benevolent tendency to prevent idolatrous practices. That this representation so far as it goes, may be considered as correct, we will not dispute; but it is not the whole truth. Others have gone to the opposite extreme. They have used language far removed from sobriety. They have talked of the gospel of Deuteronomy, the gospel of Leviticus. The apostle Paul intimates the true meaning of ancient rites and ceremonies, when he tells us, "The law was a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ," and not the substance, but "the shadow of good things to come." "Now all these things (says St. Paul, in allusion to the ancient Israelites) happened unto them for ensamples, and they are written, for our admonition." It is Christ who holds the keys of the types, and fully unfolds all their beauty and significancy; while at the same time the devout Israelite, in proportion to the strength of his faith, ingenuousnes, and piety, could see through them, and more or less understand the signification of his own sacrificial and ritual worship. It is true the law made nothing perfect, as being introductory to a better hope; but then it is equally true, that the Israelite substantially enjoyed the better thing. He obtained by daily communion with God, by the illumination of prophecy, by those rites and ceremonies which were types and shadows, "of good things to come.' See the pious Jew, subject to a condition which neither he nor his fathers could
bear, and see him constrained, by a sense of guilt, to go and use the expiatory means. He offers the blood of the animal-he is presenting to God that which God commanded to be slain on the altar for sin-He knows there is no proportion between the means employed, and the end to be obtained-he sees the appointment clearly; and with equal clearness, he sees there is no internal efficacy in what he has thus offered, either to make an atonement for his guilt, or to remove the burden of guilt from his mind. But he sees the significancy of the emblem. Having slain the animal, after confessing upon it his sin, the mind of the offerer is deeply impressed with the conviction, that death was the consequence of sin-that the life of the offender was forfeited by sin of which the action was a solemn acknowledgment; but at the same time it was expressive of belief, that God would graciously accept the substitution. Thus the mind of the worshipper was naturally led to the grand deliverer which God had promised-in short to Him, of whom it was foretold, that "He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and with his stripes we are healed." It appears
3dly. In the illustrious support that it received from the attestation of miracles, and the instrumentality of prophets.—Every one knows what is meant by a miracle. In the office committed to Moses, the necessity of superior aid was most obvious, and it was most abundantly afforded to him. In every step he took, he was under the immediate direction of Jehovah. You will observe in the language used by Moses, throughout the whole of his history that every act is ascribed to heaven. As he was commissioned to fill the high office of leading the people of Israel out of Egypt, he was empowered to work the most astonishing miracles. He inflicted the ten plagues upon the Egyptians, and it was not till then, that the obdurate heart of Pharaoh was subdued. Then the Israelites were desired to leave the land, and the Egyptians were as anxious to dismiss them, as Pharaoh had been to detain them. The mighty monarch was so humbled, and his people also, that they hastened the Israelites' departure. The Israelites were now so honoured, that they demanded silver, and jewels, and gold, as a remuneration due to their past unrequited
labours. They demanded it as the homage due to their present acknowledged superiority, and as the purchase of their immediate departure. The Egyptians granted it. The Israelites commenced their journey. Six hundred thousand men on foot, besides women and children, probably amounting to three millions, went out, as well as their flocks, their herds, and much cattle. They were to cross an arm of the Red Sea, without being accompanied by a vessel of any kind, or any natural means for making their passage across it. But God interposed. He guided and protected them by a pillar of cloud by day, and a pillar of fire by night. They passed safely through the Red Sea, while Pharaoh and his host, attempting to make the same passage, were overwhelmed and destroyed by the returning waters. God fed his people with bread forty years in the wilderness, and caused water to flow out of the rock. At length they reached the promised land. Did the miracles then cease? There God still watched over his chosen people. To carry on the objects of his design, to communicate a knowledge of himself, and increase the expectations of Israel, God raised up holy
and seers, and prophets, who had different offices assigned them, and were engaged in performing different parts of the divine commission. These men were the leaven that was to be diffused over the whole mass. They were the salt, to preserve the Israelites from corruption. They possessed various degrees of divine illumination. They were authorized to warn, to counsel, to punish, to encourage, and to reward, as the exigencies of the case might require. Some of these prophets were able to penetrate deeply into futurity. They borrowed imagery from every part of nature-from every custom with which the people were most familiar. Sometimes they spoke in the language of indignation, and at other times in the language of sarcasm they poured contempt on the folly of idolatry. At other times, to inspire the people with awe, they represented the Creator in the splendours of his power, and his insuperable majesty. Sometimes, to win upon the intelligent feelings of the heart, they expostulated as though they were seeking a favour on behalf of the great Jehovah. At other times they delighted to expatiate on the triumphs of the Messiah's reign, and the future glories of his church.
Many of their predictions are recorded, and they relate the various events concerning the Jews' time-concerning the Gentiles' time-and especially concerning the Messiah. They recorded a series of prophecies concerning Christ, which were carried on through many hundreds of years, and which gradually became more clear, as the time for their accomplishment approached. These prophecies most obviously foretold the Saviour's officethe place and manner of his birth-the principal circumstances of his life, burial, and resurrection, and the effusion of the Holy Spirit. They recorded the religion of the Messiah-the restoration of God's ancient people—and, finally, the glory of the latter days of the church. And, to these predictions the apostles constantly alluded in their discourses to the Jews, as furnishing undoubted proofs of the truth of the Christian doctrine. To the impartial consideration of the Jew, the evidence arising from the fulfilment of prophecy, must have an overwhelming force. We can easily believe that the learning and ingenuity of an infidel may form arguments against detached predictions, or the particular application of them; but it would be difficult to shew, that a connected chain of prophecy, delivered by many different persons, demonstrating one beneficent administration of providence, and fully accomplished, in one character, could be the contrivance of a wicked man, or the fraud of a pious
Such was THE GLORY OF THE MOSAIC DISPENSATION. But this dispensation has passed away, having accomplished the purposes for which it was designed, and the Messiah having made his appearance in the world, and having died on the cross to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself, the Jewish dispensation was abrogated, and, says the apostle, "If that which was done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious." We are, then, to point out some of the distinguishing excellencies of the gospel. And
II. TO SPEAK OF THE GLORY OF THE CHRISTIAN ECONOMY,
We remark, that the superiority of the gospel to the former glorious dispensation appears,
1st. In the clearness of the revelation given by it concerning those truths which are the most important to man's salvation. We have seen that the ancient economy