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If we are Christians, we belong to this great building of God; and but for the history of the Old Testament, we should never have known what was the first occasion of God's going about this building, how the foundation of it was laid, and how it has gone on from the beginning. The times of the history of the Old Testament are mostly such as no other history includes; and therefore, if God had not preserved an account of these things in his word, we should have been wholly without them.
Those that object against the authority of the Old Testament history, may as well object against Mo. ses' account of the creation; for, in the former, we have a history of a work no less important, viz. the work of redemption. Nay, this is a far greater and more glorious work. If it be inquired which of the two works, that of creation, or that of providence, is the greatest ? it must be answered, the work of providence; but the work of redemption is the greatest of the works of providence. And let those who make this objection, consider what part of the Old Testament history can be spared, without making a great breach in that thread or series of events by which this glorious work has been car.
This leads me to observe, IV. That, from what has been said, we may see much of the wisdom of God in the structure of the Scriptures of the Old Testament. Let us briefly take a view of the several parts of it, and of the need there was of them.
It was necessary, for instance, that we should have some account of the creation of the world, of our first parents, and their primitive state ; of the fall, of the old world and its degeneracy; of the
universal deluge, and the origin of nations after this destruction of mankind.
It seems necessary, moreover, that there should be some account of the succession of the church of God from the beginning. God suffered all the world to degenerate, and took one nation only to be his people, to preserve the true worship and religion till the Savior of the world should come. In them the world was gradually prepared for that great light, and those wonderful things of which he was to be the author. Thus they were a typical nation, that in them God might shadow forth and teach, as under a veil, all the future glories of the Gospel. It was therefore necessary that we should have some account of this; how it was first effected by the call of Abraham, and by their being bond-slaves in Egypt, and how they were brought to Canaan. It was necessary that we should have some account of the revelation which God made of himself to that people, in giving their law, in the appointment of their typical worship, wherein the Gospel is veiled, and of the formation of their civil and ecclesiastical state.
It seems necessary that we should have some account of their being actually brought to Canaan, the country promised them, and where they always dwelt; that we should have a history of the succes sions of the church of Israel, and of those provi: dences towards them, which were most considerable and fullest of gospel mystery; that we should have some account of the promised external glory of that nation under David and Solomon, and a very particular account of David, whose history is so fui of the Gospel, and in whom began the race of theis
kings; and that we should have some account of the building of the temple, which was also full of gospel mystery.
And it is of consequence, that we should have some account of Israel's separation from Judah, and of the ten tribes' captivity and utter rejection, and therefore a brief history of them till that time; that we should have an account of the succession of the kings of Judah, and of the church, till their captivity into Babylon; of their return from captivity, and re-settlement in their own land, with the origin of the last state of the church before Christ came.
A little consideration will convince any one, that all these things were necessary, and that none of them could be spared; and in the general, that it was necessary we should have a history of God's church till the times reached by human histories. It was important that we should have an inspired history of those times of the Jewish church, wherein there existed a more extraordinary intercourse between God and them, while he used to dwell among them as it were visibly, revealing himself by the Shechinah, by Urim and Thummim, and by prophecy, and so more immediately to order their af fairs. And it was necessary that we should have, in prophecy, some account of the great dispensa. tions of God after the finishing of inspired history; for which it was needful there should be raised up a number of prophets, who should foretell the coming of the Son of God, and the nature and glory of his kingdom, as so many harbingers to make way for him, and that their prophecies should remain in the church.
It was also desirable that the church should have a book of divine songs given by inspiration from God, wherein there should be a lively representa. tion of the true spirit of devotion, of faith, hope, and divine love, of joy, resignation, humility, obedience, repentance, &c. as in the Psalms; also that we should have from God such books of moral instruction as those of 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, respecting the great love between Christ and his spouse the church, adapted to the disposition and holy affections of a true Christian soul towards Christ, and representing his grace and marvelous love to, and delight in his people, as in Solomon's Song. It is important 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 through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of heaven. The church is for a long time under trouble, meets with fiery trials and extreme sufferings, before her time of peace and rest in the latter ages of the world. Therefore God has given us a book most proper in these circumstances, the book of Job; and though written on occasion of the afflictions of a particular saint, it 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, 5: 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
and no part
the ancient divinity before the giving of the law.
Thus, even from this brief review, I think it ap pears that every part of the Scriptures of the old Testament is
necessary, of it can be spared without loss to the church. And therefore 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 point, I would add, that it is very observable that the history of the Old Testament is large and particular where the great work of redemption required it; even where there was most done towards this work, most to typify Christ, and to prepare the way for him. Thus it is very particular in the history of Abraham and the other patriarchs; but
short in the account of the time which the children of Israel spent in Egypt. 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 the time of Moses and Joshua; but much shorter in the times of the Judges. So again, it is large and particular in the times of David and Solomon, and then very short in the history of the ensuing reigns. Thus the accounts are large or short, just as there is more or less of the work 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, it appears to be so also with respect to the Old. Christ and his redemption is the great subject of the prophecies, as well as the songs of the Old Testament, as