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Father looks on well pleased to see the glory of his only begotten.'
The result of the whole is, that the very Gospel, which is now received by the Christian Church, was in reality preached alike both to the ancient Church of the Patriarchs and to the intermediate Church of Israel. Veiled indeed it was beneath the types and shadows of the two preparative dispensations : but it still proposed to lost mankind the same offer of redemption and the same doç, trine of a mediator. From the creation of the world, to the day of its final dissolụtion, one inode only of salvation has been revealed ; and the everlasting happiness both of Jew and of Gentile is equally built upon the perfect obedience and the meritorious sacrifice of the Son of God.
All dependence then upon our own righteousness we utterly disclaim : for we know, alas-1 - by bitter experience, that we can do no good thing, We presume not to demand salvation as a debt : but we rely entirely upon the worthiness of him, who hath promised, that he will not suffer the gates of hell to prevail against his church. Here the Christian rests in the full assurance of hope; an assurance depending upon God's oath, and built upon his omnipotence. When this oath can fail, and when this omnipotence can be subverted; then, and not till then, will the joyful confidence of the believer be shaken.
The reader would do well to study an excellent work by the late Rev. W. Jones, entitled, Lectures on the figurative language of Holy Scripture.
2 Heb. vi. 16.
Meanwhile, his grateful heart labours to bring forth fruits, in some small degree at least, worthy of his free and unbought justification. Hath God, through Christ, done all for him, and shall he not strive to make the smallest return? His soul revolts from the very idea of such base ingratitude ; the remembrance of benefits conferred is a constant spur to his industry; and his daily lamentation is, that he, who hath received so much, should repay
Respecting futurity he has no lasting anxiety; he trusts that all things work together for his good ; and his flesh rests in hope, notwithstanding his ignorance of the peculiar manner of spiritual existence.
The' secret things belong to the Lord our God; but those things which are revealed belong unto ús, and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this Law.'
Deut. xxix, 29.
THE CONNECTION OF THE THREE DISPENSA
TIONS BY MEANS OF PROPHECY.
PROPHECIES, WHICH DEFINE THE FAMILY OF
As the kingdom of Christ is represented under the types and ceremonies of Patriarchism and of the Law, so is it likewise foretold in various oracles delivered of old through the inspiration of the Blessed Spirit.
Respecting the evidence which prophecy affords to the divine origin of the Christian dispensation, we may observe, that the first predictions contained in the Hebrew Scriptures, relative to the appearance of a future mighty Deliverer, are doubtless in some measure obscure as well as
general : but, afterwards, as the stream of time rolls on, they gradually become more and more distinct and express and particular. If however, viewing them collectively from the earliest to the latest period, we would arrange them in separate classes, we shall find, that they minutely specify the family, from which the Saviour was destined to be born; describe with wonderful accuracy the office and character, which he was predeterinined 10 sustain ; and declare, that the dispensation promulgated by Moses should be superseded by another more spiritual dispensation, which events have proved to be the Gospel of Christ.
The honour of giving birth to the Messiah is, in the earlier prophecies, left open to the whole race of mankind; but, in the later ones, it is more and more contracted, till at length it is limited to one particular family. This continual accession of light, from the beginning of the world to the manifestation of the Messiah, is very commonly, though very beautifully, compared to the gradual opening of the morning. The first faint glinimerings of twilight serve only to render the retiring darkness yet more visible : soon, however, the gloom diss perses, and the vivid tints of red diffused over the East announce the near approach of the orb of day: till, at length, every object gleams with the full lustre of the morning.
1. The earliest promise of the Messiah is made at the earliest period, when a Redeemer was necese sary.
As soon as our first parents had transgressed the
commandınent of God, and by their disobedience had brought sin and death into the world; in the midst of just severity, the Almighty did not forget mercy, but infused the balm of comfort into their souls even in the denunciation of punishment. A difference is distinctly marked between the seduced and the seducer. While the former have the sentence of death passed upon them, the latter is cursed above all cattle and above every beast of the field. This curse too is not mitigated by any softening circumstances; it is absolute and unconditional. But the other party is comforted by a promise, that the seed of the woman should bruise the head of the serpent, though it might bruise his heel.
The absurdity of interpreting the Prophecy literally is manifest from this consideration. The promise is designed to comfort our first parents under their affliction, by shewing them, that sooner or later their enemy should meet with the punishment due to his malice, from the hand of one, peculiarly styled the Seed of the woman. But it is not very easy to conceive, what great comfort there is for the loss of Paradise, in being told, that there should be constant enmity between the posterity of the woman and the whole race of serpents; and that, although such reptiles would be apt to bite men upon the heel, yet that men would not fail to avenge themselves by bruising their heads.
We must, therefore, adopt the Christian explanation, as the most and indeed the only rational one, which the passage will admit. Though the