« PreviousContinue »
ver'd them who, thro' Fear of Death, were all their
Fourthly, The Subversion of Sodom by Fire from Heaven, is a Type of that Perdition which is prepared for the ungodly, when our Saviour shall come in faming Fire, taking Vengeance on them that know not God, and obey not the Gospel, who shall be punished with an everlasting Destruction, from the Presence of the Lord, and from the Glory of his Power.
How great an Illustration does the Story of the Faith of Abraham in the Old Testament, receive by being compared with what our Saviour and his A. poftles say of it in the New, where it is made the Standard and Example of that Faith which is to be exercised by the Members of the Christian Church, which Acts of Faith may be reduced to the following Particulars.
1. His leaving his Native Countrey upon the Divine Command, which is clearly represented in Hebrews xi. 8, 9, 10. The Parallel to which, in the Christian Church, is the Obedience to the Divine Command, not to love this World, nor the Things that are in it, but to set our Affections on the Things that are above, which every one in his Baptism vows to do.
II. The second great Act of Abraham's Faith was his Confidence in the Promises, which assured him that he should have a Son by Sarah, when, according to the Course of Nature, the Thing promised was highly improbable; and which miraculous Child should
have a numerous Posterity that should inherit all the Land of Canaan, and from whom the Messiah should descend.
III. The third Instance of his Faith, was his offering up Isaac, the Son of the Promise, the Sincerity
of his Faith expressing itself in an absolute Obedience to the Divine Command; for he accounted that God was able to raise him up even from the Dead, from whence also he received him in a Figure: So that as it is stated by St. James, his Faith wrought with his Works.
What is parallel to this, in the Christian Church, is a firm Belief that Christ, the promised Şeed of whom Isaac was a Type, was born of a pure Virgin by the Holy Ghost, and after his Sufferings raised from the Dead, by the Power of God, to fulfil the Promises made to the Fathers, and that all Believers must be born again of the Holy Ghost, and raised like to Christ to Eternal Life at the last Day; and in general, it is such a Faith, as must be exercised in an entire Reliance upon the Divine Promises, whereby all penitent Believers are assur'd of the Divine Mercy, in the Pardon of their manifold Transgressions, and of the Almighty Asistance of Divine Grace, by which they shall be enabled to overcome all the Powers of Sin and Darkness, and so be made meet for the Inheritance of the Saints in Eternal Life and Bliss.
Jacob, not long before his Death, foretels the coming of the Messiah, and that the Sceptre should not depart from Judah 'till Shiloh come, which was accordingly fulfilled.
In the Story of Joseph we have the Instance of a most sublime Virtue, founded upon the Fear of the Almighty, which induced him to undergo the Miseries of a Dungeon rather than comply with the Allurements of his wanton Mistress. This his resolved Piety was amply rewarded even in this Life, being advanced from a Prison to be the Ruler over all the Lands of Egypt, and thereby the Preserver of his Father and all his family in the Time of an universal Famine.
The Deliverance of the Hebrews out of that Bondage with which they were so cruelly oppressed, is both
by by our Saviour and the Apostles made the Representation of that much greater Deliverance from eternal Death and Misery, which all those that believe in Jens Christ should be rescued from, for such shall never perish, but have everlasting Life.
All the Sacrifices and Institutions of the Ceremonial Law, were the Types and Shadows of that great Sacrifice which the Meffiah should offer up for the Sins of the World, and therefore being but the Shadow of good Things to come, were to be abolish’d.
The Land of Canaan, into the Poffeffion of which the Hebrews were conducted by Joshua, was a most fertile and pleasant Land, but here they could not long abide, by reason of Death; and therefore Daoid the most excellent of all their Princes in the heighth of his Prosperity, upon the Dedication of the immense Treasures which he had acquir'd for the building the Temple, acknowledges that they were but Strangers and Pilgrims on the Earth, and in it they could have no continuing Abode: and in many of the Psalms expresses, that his Hope and Desire was only fix'd upon the Expectation of eternal Bliss, and therefore cries out, whom have I in Heaven but thee, and there is none on the Earth I desire besides thee; for in thy Presence alone is fulness of Joy, and Pleasures for evermore: For as the Apostle observes, they that say fuch Things, declare plainly that they seek a Countrey, ibat is, an Heavenly.
The Books of Judges, and the History of the Kings of Judah and Israel, are the clear and full Representations of the Soverein Dominion of the Almighty in the World; for while these people continued in their Regard and Obedience to the Divine Commands, they liv'd in the greatest Peace and Prosperity, and without the Asistance of any foreign Alliance, were protected from all the Insults of their Enemies. But when they sunk into Idolatry and other Im
pieties, they were cruelly harass’d by several Na. cions, as well as by Intestine Wars and Discords.
The ten Tribes were driven out of their Land, and carried Captive into foreign countries, where they now remain in the very manner as was foretold by Moses, and the Prophets.
This Divine Severity not reclaiming the two remaining Tribes from their Idolatries, and other great Wickedness, they were carried Captive to Babylon, their Temple destroyed, and their Countrey laid desolate ; and being restored after seventy Years Captivity, they soon fell into many great Impieties, and at lait filled up the Measure of their Iniquities, by rejecting and crucifying the Mesiah the Lord of Glory, and persecuting his Disciples.
The proper Use which I conceive is to be made upon the reading these tragick Stories, is to consider that Righteousness exalteth a Nation, but Sin is a Reproach to any People, and that the Dominion of the Almighty in the World has been, and is now the fame as it was then, for that which hath been is now, and that which is to be hath already been; which is clearly stated by Sir Walter Rawleigh in his excellenç Preface, wherein is the following Observation.
“ I will examine, says he, what Profit hath been “ gathered by our own Kings, and their Neighbouring • Princes, who having beheld both in Divine and 66 humane Letters the Success of Infidelity, Injustice 65 and Cruelty, have notwithstanding planted after the 6 fame Pattern. But the Judgments of God are for
ever unchangeable, neither is he wearied by the 6 long process of Time, nor wont to give his Blesso sing in one Age to that which he hath cursed in ( another: Therefore those that are wise, will be a" ble to discern the bitter Fruits of Irreligious Policy, fs as well among those Examples that are found in Aremoved far from the present, as in those of
“ latter Times”. And of which he gives many In: stances from the History of the Kings of England and other Nations.
If the History of the Hebrew and Christian Church be compared, there seems to be a very near Resemblance between them, as may appear in the following Instances.
The Hebrews, notwithstanding their long and cruel Oppressions in Egypt, and the many Attempts to destroy them, yet grew, and multiplied exceedingly; in which State of Servicude they continued above three hundred Years.
The Christian Church was, for above three hundred Years cruelly harafs’d, and persecuted both by Jews and Gentiles, the whole Power of the Roman Empire in vain attempting by cruel Torments and Perfecutions to extirpate Christianity: But the Primitive Christians, being endued with a Divine Fortis tude, triumph'd over all the Rage and Power of their Enemies, so that the Blood of the Martyrs became the Seed of the Church, which was planted in all Parts of the Roman Empire?
The Israelites being put into the Poffeffion of the Land of Canaan, soon after yoshua's Death fell into those Idolatries and other Impieties, for which the Canaanites were extirpated.
The Emperor Constantine having embraced Chriftianity, became not only the Protector of the Christians, but endowed the Church with great Riches. What Influence this had upon the Clergy, appeared before the Death of this great Emperor, who was forced to call a General Council to put a Stop to the Arian Heresy, which (though suppressed for a Time) was revived in the Time of his Son and Succeffor Constantius, who became a most virulent Persecutor, and too many of the Ecclesiasticks became the great Promoters of this Heresy and Persecution. This Damnable Heresy of denying the Lord that