« PreviousContinue »
of his Faith expressing itself in an absolute Obe, dience 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 Seed of whom Ifaac 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 ReJiance upon the Divine Promifes, whereby all penicent Believers are assur'd of the Divine Mercy, in the Pardon of their manifold Transgressions, and of the Almighty Alistance 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 Messiab, 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 our Saviour and the Apostles made the Representation of that much greater Deliverance from eternal Death and Misery, which all those that believe in Jesus 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 Poffeflion 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 David 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 such Things, declare plainly that they seek a Countrey, that is, an Heavenly.
The Books of Judges, and the History of the Kings of Judah and Israel, are the clear and full Representacions 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. tions, 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 last filled up the Measure of their Iniquities, by rejecting and crucifying the Messiah 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 Reo proach 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 excellent Preface, wherein is the following Observation.
66 I will examine, says he, what Profic hath been “ gathered by our own Kings, and their Neighbouring « Princes, who having beheld both in Divine and o humane Letters the Success of Infidelity, Injustice « and Cruelty, have notwithstanding planted after the u fame Pattern. But the Judgments of God are for 6 ever unchangeable, neither is he wearied by the " long process of Time, nor wont to give his Bles" sing in one Age to that which he hath cursed in 66 another: Therefore those that are wise, will be aable to discern the bitter Fruits of Irreligious Policy, “ as well among those Examples that are found in Ages removed far from the present, as in those of
" latter Times”. And of which he gives many
Instances 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 Servitude they continued above three hundred Years.
The Christian Church was, for above three hundred Years cruelly harass’d, and persecuted both by Jews and Gentiles, the whole Power of the Roman Empire in vain attempting by cruel Torments and Persecutions to extirpate Christianity: But the Primitive Christians, being endued with a Divine Fortitude, 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 Ifraelites being put into the Possession of the Land of Canaan, soon after Joshua's Death fell into those Idolatries and other Impieties, for which the Canaanites were extirpated.
The Emperor Constantine having embraced Christianity, became not only the Protector of the Chriftians, 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 Perfecutor, and too many of the Ecclefiafticks became the great Promoters of this Heresy and Persecucion. This Damnable Heresy of denying the Lord thae
bought them, having diffused itself over most of the Asian and African Churches, the fwift Destruction which was foretold by St. Peter, was brought upon them by the Saracens, who in a short Time over-run the greatest part of Asia and Africa, desolated their Cities, destroyed their Churches, and laid waste many fruitful Countries ; so that in many Respects, there seems to be a great Resemblance between the Calamities that fell upon the ten Tribes by the Asyrians, and those that were brought upon the Christian Church by the Saracens.
The two Tribes which remained (who, notwithstaning all the Calamities that came upon the ten Tribes, and the many Warnings they had given them from Heaven by several Prophets, would not be reclaim'd from their Fondness for Idols) were carried Captive to Babylon, their Temple plundered and burnt, their Cities, and Countrey laid desolate. The Parallel, to which is the State of the remaining part of the Eastern or Greek Churches, into which the grosseft Idolatries were introduc'd under Christian Names; and so obstinate were the Ecclesiastics in carrying on this Impiety, that notwithstanding all the Attempts that were made by some of the Greek Emperors to suppress Idolatry, it was not only openly profess’d, but avow'd and establish'd in the Greek and Latin Churches.
This was soon followed by the terrible Vengeance that fell upon the Greek Empire and Churches, by the Turks, who took Constantinople the Capital City of the Empire; in the Siege and Sacking of which, are many Circumstances which very much resemble the Calamities that befel the Jews in the Siege and taking of Jerufalem. But this Suggestion is submitted to the Confideration of those who are more vers'd in Ecclefiaftical History than I pretend to be.
What is to be the Fate of the Mystical Babylon, and the Antichristian Empire, by whose Idolatries, Impieties and Tyranny the Church has been so long