Page images
PDF
EPUB

and people before Christ came; but these were only so many images and forerunners of the great salvation he was to work out. The church during that space of time enjoyed the light of divine revelation. They had in a degree the light of the Gospel. But all these revelations were only so many earnests of the great light that he should bring who came to be the Light of the world. That whole space of time was the time of night, wherein the church of God was not indeed wholly without light; but it was like the light of the moon and stars; a dim light in comparison of the light of the sun, and mixed with a great deal of darkness. It “ had no glory by reason of the glory that excelleth.” 2 Cor. 3:10. The church had indeed the light of the sun, but it was only as reflected from the moon and stars. The church all that while was a minor. Gal. 4:1-3. " Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, ihough he be lord of all; but is under tutors and governors, until the time appointed of the father. Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the ele. ments of the world."

a

For greater clearness and distinctness, I shall subdivide this period into sıx lesser periods:

First. From the fall to the flood; Second. From the flood to the calling of Abraham; Third. From the calling of Abraham to Moses; Fourth. From Moses to David; Fifth. From David to the captivity in Babylon ; Sixth. From the captivity to the incarnation of Christ.

CHAPTER I.

FROM THE FALL TO THE FLOOD.

Though this period was the most distant from Christ's incarnation, yet then was this glorious building begun.

I. As soon as man fell, Christ entered on his mediatorial work. Then it was that he began to execute the work and office of a Mediator. He had undertaken it before the world was made. He stood engaged with the Father from eternity, to appear as man's Mediator, and to take on him that office, when there should be occasion. And now the time was come. Christ the eternal Son of God clothed himself with the mediatorial character, and therein immediately presented himself before the Father as Mediator between a holy, infinite, offended Majesty, and offending mankind. He was accepted in his in. terposition; and thus wrath was prevented from going forth in the full execution of the amazing curse that man had brought on himself.

It is manifest that Christ began to exercise the office of Mediator between God and man as soon as man fell, because mercy began to be exercised towards man immediately. There was mercy in the forbearance of God, that he did not destroy him, as he did the angels when they fell. But there is no mercy exercised towards fallen man except through a Mediator. If God had not in mercy restrained Satan, he would immediately have seized on his prey. Christ began to do the part of an intercessor for man as soon as he fell; for there is no mercy exercised towards man but what is obtained through Christ's intercession. From that day Christ took on him the care of the church, in the exercise of all his offices. He undertook to teach mankind in the exercise of his prophetical office: to intercede for fallen man in his priestly office; and to govern the church and the world as a King. He from that time took upon him the defence of his people from all their enemies. When Satan, the grand enemy, had conquered and overthrown man, the business of resisting and conquering him was committed to Christ. He thenceforward undertook to manage that subtle, powerful adversary. He was then appointed the Captain of the Lord's hosts, the Captain of their salvation. Henceforward this world, with all its concerns, devolved upon the Son of God: for when man had sinned, God the Father would have no more to do immediately with this world of mankind, that had apostatized from and rebelled against him. He would henceforward act anly through a Mediator, either in teaching men, or in governing, or bestowing any benefits on them.

And therefore, when we read in sacred history what God did, from time to time, for his church and people, and how he revealed himself to them, we are to understand it especially of the second person of the Trinity. When we read of God appearing after the fall, in some visible form or outward symbol of his presence, we are ordinarily, if not universally, to understand it of the Son of God. John, 1:18. “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him." He is therefore called “the image of the invisible God," Col. 1:15; intimating, that

[ocr errors]

though God the Father be invisible, yet Christ is his image or representation, by which he is seen.

Yea, not only this world devolved on Christ, that he might have the care and government of it, and order it agreeably to his design of redemption, but also in some respect the whole universe. The angels from that time are subject to him in his mediatorial office, as is manifest by the Scripture history, wherein we have accounts of their acting as ministering spirits in the affairs of the church.

And therefore we may suppose, that immediately on the fall of Adam, it was made known in heaven among the angels, that God had a design of redemption with respect to fallen man; that Christ had now taken upon him the office and work of a Mediator between God and man; and that they were to be subservient to him in this office. And as Christ, in this office, has been solemnly installed the King of hea. ven, and is thenceforward as God-man, the Light. the Sun of heaven, (agreeable to Rev. 21 : 23,) so this revelation made in heaven among the angels, was as it were the first dawning of this light there. When Christ ascended into heaven, after his passion, and was solemnly enthroned, then this sun arose in hea. ven, even the Lamb, that is the light of the New Jerusalem.

II. Presently upon this the Gospel was first revealed on earth, in these words, Gen. 3:15, “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed: it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” We must suppose that God's intention of redeeming fallen man was first signified in heaven, before it was on earth, because the business of the angels, as ministering Spirits of the Mediator, required it; for as soon as Christ had taken on him the work of a Mediator, it was requisite that the angels should be ready immediately to be subservient to him in that office : so that the light first dawned in heaven; but very soon afterwards, the same was signified on earth. In those words of God there was an intimation of another surety to be appointed for man, after the first surety had failed. This was the first revelation of the covenant of grace; the first dawning of the light of the Gospel on earth.

This world before the fall enjoyed noon-day light; the light of the knowledge of God, of his glory, and of his favor. But when man fell, all this light was at once extinguished, and the world reduced again to total darkness; a darkness worse than that which was in the beginning of the world, Gen. 1:2. “ Darkness was upon the face of the deep," a darkness a thousand times more remediless than that. Neither men nor angels could find out any way whereby this darkness might be scattered. It appeared in its blackness when Adam and his wife saw that they were naked, and sewed fig-leaves to cover themselves ; when they heard the voice of the Lord God, walking in the garden, and hid themselves among the trees. When God first called them to an account, and said to Adam, “What is this that thou hast done? Hast thou eaten of the tree whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldst not eat ?" Then we may suppose that their hearts were filled with shame and terror. But these words of God, Gen. 3:15, were the first dawning of gospel light, after this dismal darkness. Before this there was not one glimpse of light, any beam of comfort, or the least hope. It was an obscure

« PreviousContinue »