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waters, yea, than the mighty waves of the sea." Is it not sweetly figurative of that dawn of hope, that proclamation of mercy, before which the tide of wrath begins to ebb and to subside?
The figure of the dove declares its own meaning and import. In the natural purity and innocence of that sweet bird; in her going and returning ; in the expressive speed of her first excursion; in the expressive symbol she bore in her mouth at her second return, the olive-leaf; in the clear and explicit information conveyed by her not returning again the third time, it is impossible not to observe a prefiguration of the purity and innocence of the Holy Jesus, the Mediator between God and man. "How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace, that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation!" "Lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone, the flowers appear on the earth, the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land." As the state of the world was gradually unfolded to Noah by the different appearances and conduct of his dove; so was the plan of redemption by Jesus Christ gradually disclosed to the world, in types, in allegories, and by predictions, till the morning light at length became perfect day, and "God, who at sundry times, and in divers manners, spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds.' 99*
As the ark, after the tossings and tempest of the flood, rested safely on the top of Mount Ararat: so Christ, having suffered all things that were appointed, "entered into his glory," and established the faith of them that believe in him, upon a rock, against which the gates of hell never shall prevail." The ark afforded protection to those only who fled for shelter under its roof, and whom God shut up within it. It was not merely the sight of that wonderful fabric, nor the knowledge and approbation of the plan, nor an active hand in the rearing of it, nor an external adherance to it, when the evil day came, that afforded safety to the miserable. Our Lord himself furnishes us with the application of these important circumstances. "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven: but he that doth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity." And impressed with an awful sense of it, Paul says of himself, "I therefore so run, not as uncertainly so fight I, not as one that beateth the air; but I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection, lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a cast away."‡
Farther when we see Noah at the altar of God, offering the sacrifices of thanksgiving, presenting a victim of every clean bird, and beast, and God smelling a savour of rest; ceasing from his anger, remitting the curse, and establishing a new covenant upon better promises, we "behold the Lamb of God who taketh away the sins of the world." Christ, the altar that is erected, the priest who officiates, and the victim which is offered up. We behold provision made for the remission of transgressions committed under the second covenant, for which there was no remedy under the first. The passage on which this discourse is built, is a full and particular illustration of this. The whole chapter refers to the bringing in of the Gentile nations to the standard of the Messiah. "For thy Maker is thine husband [the Lord of Hosts is his name] and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; the God of the whole 1 Cor. ix. 26, 27.
* Heb. i. 1, 2.
Matth. vii. 21,-23.
earth shall he be called. For the Lord has called these as a woman forsaken, and grieved in spirit, and a wife of youth, when thou wast refused, saith thy God. For a small moment have I forsaken thee, but with great mercies will I gather thee. In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the Lord thy Redeemer. For this is as the waters of Noah unto me: for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth; so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee, nor rebuke thee. For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord, that hath mercy on thee."* Expressions beautifully figurative of the strength, beauty, and duration of the christian church, and of the immoveable foundation on which the christian faith is built.
Finally, the rainbow, the token of God's covenant of peace with the earth, produced, in the course of nature, by the rays of the sun falling on a cloud impregnated with rain; without straining for a similitude, exhibits mercy rejoicing over judgment; the rays of the sun of righteousness reflected from and dispersing the clouds of divine wrath and human guilt. It represents the dispensations of the Most High towards men, as distinguished from those spiritual beings who never sinned, and those who never shall be saved. hell, the gloom is not for a single instant dispelled by one beam of light, nor despair relieved by one ray of hope. The serenity of heaven is never obscured by one frown from the face of God. But our world is the theatre, on which are displayed, " mercy and truth meeting together, righteousness and peace kissing each other;" "truth springing out of the earth, and righteousness looking down from heaven." The bow in the cloud is the reverse of that described by the Psalmist : “He hath bent his bow and made it ready,
he hath also prepared for him the instruments of death: he ordaineth his arrows against the persecutors." No, it is a bow unbent, armed with no deadly weapon, and its dangerous, threatening side averted from us, and turned towards heaven. The bow is never to be seen but when one side of the heaven is clear, and the sun above the horizon; unless it be by the sober, silver rays of the moon's mild, reflected light. Thus every thing useful and pleasing in nature, every thing satisfying and consolatory in providence, in order to be perceived and enjoyed, must be irradiated, explained, and applied, by the eternal Wisdom, the Word of God, "the true Light which enlighteneth every man who cometh into the world ;" and thus many of the objects which we are incapable of contemplating, by the direct and immediate illumination of the glorious "Father of Lights," are tempered to our preception, use, and delight, by reflection from other orbs. "No man hath seen God at any time. The only begotten Son who is in the bosom of the Father he hath Thus have we endeavoured to point out those particulars in the person, character, and life of Noah, which seem more obviously typical of Christ the Lord; but I cannot conclude the parallel, without directing your thoughts to one article of resemblance more. The old world having undergone the purgation of a flood, was delivered in its renewed state to Noah and his natural posterity for a possession: and from the world that is, when purified by fire, "We, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness." "He that sitteth upon the throne saith, Behold I make all things new! for the former things are passed away." And he that is before the throne saith, "In my father's house are many mansions! if it were not so I would have told you: I go to prepare a place for you, and if
I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself, that where I am, there ye may be also. And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know." "Blessed is he who shall eat bread in the kingdom of God." Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city."
Let me now exhort you in the words of Christ, "Search the scriptures, for in them ye think ye have eternal life, and they testify of Him, who is Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end:" and as you read and meditate, the light will break in upon you, and the Saviour of the world will stand confessed in every page, in every line; so that ye may say one to another, in the words of Andrew to Simon his brother, "We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ." And when you see all that is venerable in respect of antiquity, all that is sacred in office, all that is dignified in royalty, bringing their glory and honour to him, lay yourselves at his feet, and say, "he is our Lord and we will worship him ;" for " surely this is the Son of God."
And here closes the first great period of the world. There next ensues a very considerable space of time, fruitful indeed in names, but barren in events. Providence has thought fit to draw a veil over it for this obvious reason, that however amusing or instructive the detail of that period might be to us, as citizens of this world, having no special relation to the history of redemption, it cannot be very deeply interesting to us as christians. And the design of the Bible is not so much to convey to us natural and political knowledge, as the knowledge of "the only true God, and of Jesus Christ, whom he hath sent, whom to know is life eternal.” The sacred historian accordingly hastens on to the times of Abraham, when the promises and predictions of the Messiah become more clear and express, and that Saviour was explicity announced, " in whom all the families of the earth" should at length be blessed.
When we have marked the progress of the dawn, and observed the first rays of this rising sun, through the medium of type, figure, and prediction; when we have considered the tokens of approaching glory in the east; let us look up together, and behold the spledour of the full-blown day; let us contemplate the glory spread around us, by "the sun shining in his strength." The scattered glimmerings of light,—a terrrestrial paradise, the first promise of deliverance by the seed of the woman, Abel's sacrifice, Enoch's translation, Noah's ark, and all that followed during so many ages, were at length collected and lost in that one great luminary, which is the light of the Christian world. But alas! "this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light; neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved."* Let us endeavour to approve ourselves, "children of the light, and of the day," and observe and follow Him, who thus speaks concerning himself, "I am the light of the world; he that followeth me, shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life."
* John iii. 19, 20.
HISTORY OF ABRAM.
GENESIS XII. 1.
Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee.
It would yield neither amusement nor instruction, to lay before you in detail, the genealogical succession of the sons of Noah, from the flood to the calling of Abram. Scripture presents us with a very general view of that period. It shews us mankind engaged in pursuits common to men in every age. It exhibits the usual and natural operations, and the effects of pride, and ambition, and avarice: plans of empire formed; imperial cities founded; new discoveries made, and settlements established. For a considerable time the recent horrors of the deluge must have laid fast hold of the minds of men as the awful monuments of it were every where before their eyes. This would naturally, for a while, confine them to the mountainous regions of Armenia, where the ark first rested. But as their fears diminished, and their numbers increased, we find them, allured by the beauty and fertility of the plains, which were washed by the Tygres and the Euphrates, descending gradually from the heights, and spreading along the vast and fruitful valleys of Shinar or Chaldea. And he who had seen the whole human race cut off for their wickedness, his own family consisting of eight persons excepted, lived to see the descendants of that family almost as numerous and as profligate as the generation of men which had been destroyed by the flood. He had the mortification, in particular, of seeing his posterity engaged in an enterprise equally absurd, vain and impious: that of building "a city and a tower whose top should reach unto heaven," to transmit their names with renown to posterity, to be the great seat of empire, and thereby the means of preserving them in one grand system of political union, and of securing them from discord and dispersion.
The sacred volume informs us, that the very means which they had vainly devised to keep themselves together, in the wisdom of God, separated and scattered them. But the history of that event falls not within the design of these exercises. Leaving Nimrod and his vain-glorious companions to erect the monument of their own folly, and to feel the consequences of their impiety, let us attend the sacred historian in tracing, not the rise and progress of empire, but the formation, the unfolding, and the execution of the plan of redemption. Dropping the mighty founders of Nineveh and Babylon in that oblivion wherein providence has plunged them never to emerge, let us accompany the father of the faithful from Ur of the Chaldees to the place of his destination, and observe the increasing splendour of the day of grace, and adore the wisdom, truth and faithfulness of Him who promised, and who "hath done as he had said."
It may be proper to observe, in the entrance of the history of this great
patriarch, that one life, that of Noah, almost connects Adam with Abram. For Noah was born only one hundred and twenty-six years after the death of Adam, and lived till within two years of Abram's birth. In one sense, therefore the father and founder of the Jewish nation is very little more than the third from the first man. So readily, immediately, and uninterruptedly, might the knowledge of important truth, particularly the promises of salvation, be communicated through so long a tract of time. It is farther observable, that as from Adam to Noah there are ten generations, so likewise from Noah to Abram there are ten generations; but the latter succeeded each other much faster than the former. The first ten occupy a period of one thousand six hundred and fifty-six years; the last is shrunk down to three hundred and fifty-seven. We are henceforward, therefore, to be conversant with lives reduced nearer to our own standard. While extreme longevity was necessary to carry on the designs of Providence, men lived to the age of many centuries. When God saw it was meet to substitute a written and permanent revelation, in the place of oral tradition from father to son, the life of man was shortened.
The history of Abram's life commences at a period of it, long before which that of most men is concluded; namely, at the seventy-fifth year of his age. It is never either too early or late to serve and follow God. But the folly and presumption of youth is but too apt to defer matters of the greatest moment to the last hour; and this fatal waste of the seed time of life, is the sure foundation of dishonour, remorse and despair, in old age. But though our patriarch had arrived at a period of life so advanced, before the sacred historian introduces him upon the stage, the obscurity which lies upon his earlier years is amply compensated by the rich, instructive, and entertaining materials, furnished from the divine stores, for the history of the latter part of his life.
There is something singularly affecting, in the idea of an old man giving up the scenes of his youthful days; scenes endeared to the mind by the fond recollection of past joys; foregoing his kindred and friends; and becoming an exile and a wanderer, at a period when nature seeks repose, and when the heart cleaves to those objects to which it has been long accustomed. that man goes on cheerfully, who knows he is following God; he can never remove far from home, who has "made the Most High his habitation;" he who falls asleep in the bosom of a father, knows that he shall awake in perfect peace and safety. Accordingly, "Abram, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed, and he went out, not knowing whither he went."*
Abram being held forth in scripture as the pattern of a cheerful, prompt and active faith in God, as we proceed, we shall mark the appearances and the effects of that faith in the successive trials to which it was exposed. The very first act of his obedience to the will of Heaven, proves the existence and the prevalency of this powerful principle. When called to leave his country and his father's house," he went out, not knowing," not caring, "whither he went." What could have induced him to make such a surrender, but a sense of his duty to God, an entire acquiescence in the wisdom and goodness of Providence, and a full assurance that his Heavenly Father both could and would indemnify him, for every sacrifice which he was called to make! A sacrifice similar to this every real christian virtually offers up, when he renounces the pomp and pleasure of this vain world, to the hope of "an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away." Ur of the Chaldees was become a land of idolatry. Abram's nearest relations had lost the knowledge,
*Heb. xi. &,