« PreviousContinue »
thing had been done for Christ's vineyard, and the vine that ought to have produced good grapes, brought forth sour grapes, the Gentiles were grafted in. Its heavenly nurture, its pro. gressive growth, its blessed fruit, were disclosed to him in fuller light. In the promise of a son, in the plains of Mamre, in the land of Moriah, he is addressed by One, whose title is, I am the Almighty God; and who, in Apostolic language, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God. In the renewal of the covenant of grace, it was not only made known to him, that Christ was to be of Abraham's seed; but the calling of the Gentiles, the bringing all nations into the church, that all the families of the earth might be blessed, were matters of distinct revelation by Him who said, Abraham rejoiced to see my day, and he saw it, and was glad. Throughout the whole Patriarchal age, we find the same guardian Power, and the same gracious Providence, watching over and protecting the covenanted blessings of his servants; and either by interesting points of resemblance, by type, by figure, or prophetic direction, leading them to just apprehensions of the true God, and to the performance of such worship, as would procure his favour and acceptance: concealing no glory that could be manifested to mortal eyes, and unfolding a mercy that should embrace every son of Adam, who called upon his name.
Such was the religion of the Patriarchal church, which went out into all the earth; in the purity of which the antient fatliers of our faith lived and died; which the Jews constantly affirm to have been handed down from Adam to Noah, and the wisest heathens to have come to them in the portions it did come) by revelation and tradition; which was published and preached to the old world by the antediluvian prophets, from Adam successively to Noah; and to the new, by Noah and Shem, by Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in Canaan; by Joseph and the Church, in Egypt; by Moses and Aaron, as it remains to shew, at the deliverance from thence, when it was re-published in writing; by the standing evidence of the church in Judea, which was surrounded by the Gentiles on all sides, and in the very center of the then known world; by the proselytes, that travelled to and from thence, and the intercourse the Jewish people successively had with the four great monarchies--the Assyrian, the Persian, the Grecian, and the Roman; by the prophets of God occasionally, by Jonah in particular at Nineveh; by Jeremiah, in Egypt; by Ezekiel, Daniel, Shadrach, Meshac, and Abednego, and Zechariah, and the Church in captivity at Babylon; by the translation of the Scriptures of the Old Testament into Greek, which was at that time generally understood; and by various other means, till the blessed Apostles carried it accomplished to the remotest parts of the earth.
It is to this view of the sacred writings that I wish to open your eyes, to contemplate the JEHOVAH of the old covenant in the Redeemer of the new, and in the founder of Christianity, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and Jacob, who had declared, that besides Him there was no Saviour. Every occurrence and every character in the scripture history was written for our instruction and example, and what, in the short detail of this discourse, could only be made subject of allusion, would, to a reflecting mind, furnish materials of thought, which would finally
center in Jesus, the author and finisher of his faith. If the preservation of Noah in the ark be true, who shut the door of it, but He who is now calling the sinner to repentance, lest he outstay the day of grace, and the door of his Father's kingdom should be shut against Him for ever? Who released him from his imprisonment, and bade him tread securely upon a new world, but He who is to unbar the portals of the grave,
and lead the family of the faithful to their new inheritance? Can we read of the Lord raining fire and brimstone from heaven upon the devoted cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, without thinking of Him, before whom, at his final judgment, is to go a consuming fire, when He shall visit in his anger the wickedness of those who dwell upon the earth; who alone is able, and has promised, to save us from the ruins of a burning world, and from those fires that never shall be extinguished; and who is now calling to every Christian, as He did to the faithful Lot, Haste, escape for thy life.
From the beginning to the end of all things the language of revelation has been one, the road to salvation the same-that as in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive. On the right or the left of this path of faith all is darkness and error, and the multitudes who have wandered and perished, should be a warning to those who survive. We have much among us now of natural divinity and rational religion, which kindly take us out of the hands of the first and only instructor of mankind, to prove to us that there is a God, and a future state of retribution; and after carrying us to the bounds of immortality, leave us there without sanctification and without redemption, the only means of passing its barriers. Is our light, then, so dim at the completion of promise, that we want such guides ? Is the covenant of mercy so little understood, as to need such explanations?
Those solemn assertions, I am the way, and the truth, and the life, and no man cometh unto the Father, but by me, shew us a life of grace, that no human reason can supply, and give us an hope in death, that nothing without Christ can afford. If we abandon Him, we abandon the only ground of true hope that ever was discovered to the world. Everlasting in his nature, his salvation must be for ever. He is