Page images
PDF
EPUB

Sect. II. '

3. “As he promised by the mouth

“ of his holy prophets, which

“ have been since the world :...“ began ---" ,

In a matter of fo great consequence as man's redemption, God left not the world without information, from the beginning : fo that wherever we find ignorance, it must be charged to the account of man, as having rejected, and not to that of his Maker, as having denied the necessary means of instruction. We see the christian church now supported, in her belief of Meffiah's second advent, on which all her hopes are fixed, by the discourses of the Apostles, as the antient church was supported in her belief of his first advent, by the discourses of the prophets. There is no more difficulty in one case than in the other. The ancients lived in faith, and so do we. They died in faith, « not having received the promises,” and so must we: for though some promifes are fulfilled, yet others are not, nor can be, in this world. Our know

lege lege is not the less certain, nor our faith, Sect. II. built upon it, the less firm, because we have not exact and adequate notions of the manner of Christ's coming, the circumstances of the last judgment, and the glory that is to follow. The facts áre sufficiently predicted; for an idea of the mode we must be contented to wait, till faith shall give place to fight. And let the fame observation be applied to the patriarchs and Ifraelites.

4. " -- That we should be saved

« from our enemies, and from
" the hand of all that hate us."

THE enemies and the salvation, here intended by Zacharias, are, without doubt, spiritual. Such a salvation therefore, from such enemies, God “ promised by the mouth of his holy « prophets which have been since the “ world began." When he saved his people of old from their enemies, and from the hand of all that hated them, his mercy fo displayed was a figure for the time then present, a pledge and earnest of eternal redemption; as if he -D

had

m

Sect. II. had said, “ Ye shall fee greater things

c than these.” And the psalms, formerly

composed to celebrate the deliverance of
Ifrael from Egyptian and Babylonian cap-
tivities, are now used by the church
Christian to praise God for salvation
from sin, death, and Satan : they are
sung new in the kingdom of Mef-
fiah. “Old things are passed away, be-
“ hold all things are become new :"
legal figures are vanished, and the terms
employed to describe them are transfer-
red to Evangelical truths. When the
prophets composed psalms on occasion of
temporal deliverances, they looked for-
ward to a future spiritual salvation; as,
Zacharias, in his hymn, the subject of
which is a spiritual salvation, looks
back, and has a reference to past tem-
poral deliverances,

5. “ To perform the mercy promi

“ sed to our fathers, and to re“member his holy covenant --"

· The “ mercy promised to our fa“thers” was, therefore, a spiritual mercy; and the “ covenant" made with

them

them was a gospel covenant ; for other- Sect. II. wise, God could not be said, by raising up Christ, to have performed that “ mercy,” and “ remembered that co“ venant.” Accordingly, we are elsewhere told, “ the Gospel was preached “ to Abraham *;" and the covenant made with him is styled “the covenant « of God in Christ b.” The Gospel, then, was prior to the law, and was the patrimony of all the children of Abraham. “The law, which was four hun« dred and thirty years after," whatever might be it's intention, could not dispossess them of this their inheritance ; it could not « disannul the covenant, “ and make the promise of none effect.” But if, on the contrary, it was designed to keep up, and further the knowlege of them; if it was a standing prophecy; if it was “a schoolmaster,” by it's elements training up and conducting it's scholars “ to Chrift;" then certainly nothing was wanting on the part of God. The Jews minded earthly things ; but to infer from thence, that they were never

a Gal. iii. 8.

o Ibid. 17.

D 2

taught

m

Sect. II. taught the knowlege of things heavenly,

w ould be a method of arguing too hazar-
dous to be ventured upon; fince, from
the behaviour of many, who profess the
Christian religion, it might as fairly be
concluded, that their Master promised
nothing but “ loaves and fishes.Ifrael-
ites might set their hearts too much on
“ fields and vineyards,” forgetting or
neglecting better things, as men are apt
to do, who are blessed with prosperity
in this present world. But when they
did so, they did wrong : prophets were
sent to reprove the error, and judgments
to convince them, that Canaan was not
the end of the "covenant,” nor a plen-
tiful harvest “ the mercy promised:”

6. “ THE oath which he fware to

'“our forefather Abraham --”.

The amazing condescension of God in vouchsafing, for man's satisfaction and assurance, to confirm his promise by an oath, is finely touched upon in the epistle to the Hebrews. " When “ God made promise to Abraham, be“cause he could swear by no greater, he

. . “ sware

« PreviousContinue »