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Ruth, &c.—are presented to us; because in these are illustrated the effects of God's grace on the human heart under circumstances where we most need the illustration of it -as parent, child, brother, husband and wife, mother-inlaw and daughter-in-law, master and servant, and the duties, the temptations, afflictions, &c. arising out of these relations. The character of Noah presents a bright example of perseverance in well doing. He appears, as Bishop Horne remarks, like the lily among thorns, diffusing its sweetness in the desert,—a light burning and shining in the blackness of darkness. In the character of Job we are taught patience; in Moses, meekness ; in Caleb, decision. Hannah is a pattern to mothers ; Samuel and Josiah, to children; Joseph, to young men; Eliezer of Damascus, to servants ; Daniel, to those under authority ; Nehemiah, as a patriot, &c.; Jonathan, as a friend and a brother, and not less so as a son towards a wicked father attempting the destruction of that friend and brother. David's conduct to Saul shews us how to overcome evil with good. So that there is gradually presented to us, embodied in the example of some one recorded in the Bible, an illustration of every duty to which we are called. Yet the New Testament pre-eminently illustrates this. It was reserved to the Gospel to shew the full influence of Divine grace in the perfect example of our Lord, in following “the blessed steps of his most holy life.”
2. Particular examples are given of the influence of sin.
(1.) On the true servants of God.—The unbelief of the father of the faithful (Gen. xx.); the impatience of the most patient (Job iii.); the irritability of the meekest (Numb. xx.); the early, long-tried, eminent devotion of him who was so distinguished a type of the great Messiah, and
yet his grievous fall (2 Sam. xi.); the wisest of men becoming an idolator (1 Kings xi.).
(2.) On the wicked.-Envy in Joseph's brethren (Gen. xxxvii.); hatred in Esau against Jacob (Gen. xxvii.); malice in Saul (1 Sam. xvii.); pride in Nebuchadnezzar (Dan. iv.); neglect of warnings in his grandson Belshazzar (Dan. V. 22); daring impiety in Pharaoh and Hiel (1 Kings xvi.), like Ahaz, trespassing yet more in their affliction; capricious Ahasuerus ; indecisive Zedekiah (Jer. xxvii.); ambitious Adonijah, a spoiled child (1 Kings i.); headstrong Rehoboam (1 Kings xii.); worldly wise Ahithophel (2 Sam. xvii.); hypocritical Johanan (Jer. xl. xlii.); Esau generous, yet profane (Gen. xxxii.); Pharaoh perverse, but at times relenting (Exod. ix. 27); Orpah's exemplary conduct to Naomi, although clinging to idolatry (Ruth i.).
Such examples are given as illustrate,
(4.) The vain excuses made for the commission of sin; as in the case of Adam and Eve (Gen. iii.), and Aaron. (Exod. xxxii.).
(5.) The self-deceit which accompanies sin; as in Balaam (Numb. xxii., xxiv. : “Let me die the death of,” &c., Numb. xxii. 10, at the very moment he was running greedily after the wages of unrighteousness, 2 Pet. ii.; Jude 11).
(6.) The prejudices which oppose the reception of truth ; as in Naaman. (2 Kings v.)
(7.) The force of habit.—Ahab's humiliation (1 Kings xxi.), Joash weeping by the dying bed of Elisha (2 Kings xiii.), yet returning to their idolatry.
(8.) The corrupt motives of right conduct; as in Jehu destroying the prophets of Baal (2 Kings X. ; Hosea i. 4).
(9.) The restraint of circumstances on human depravity, and how it breaks out when that restraint is removed-as Hazael, when raised to a throne; and Joash, king of Judah, after the death of his uncle Jehoiada.
(10.) The evil of ungodly connexions (Gen. vi. 2). These ungodly marriages were the first step towards the corruption of the church, and the ruin of mankind ; so Jehoshaphat's connexion with Ahab by the marriage of his son with Athaliah nearly led to the destruction of his whole family; and if Ahab had not had Jezebel for his wife, he might never have been guilty of the murder of Naboth. (2 Kings viii. 26. xi. 1; 1 Kings xxi. 7.)
3. General views are given of human nature.
(1.) Thus, immediately before the Deluge, it is said (Gen. vi. 5), “Every imagination," &c.; and again, immediately after (Gen. viii. 21, &c.), “evil from youth.” In Job, written 800 years after the Deluge, it is said (ch. xv. 16), that man is filthy and abominable. David, 500 years after this (Ps. xiv. 2), Jeremiah, 500 years after David (ch. xvii. 9), Paul, 500 years after Jeremiah (Rom. iii.), give the same view.
(2.) And these general views are illustrated in the Bible on a great scale in the history of the Jews. For many hundreds of years made the objects of God's peculiar carea people miraculously governed-instructed by inspired teachers—entrusted with the oracles of God-enriched in every way by such extraordinary privileges (Deut. iv. 33; Isai. v. 1, &c.)—in their abuse of these privileges, generation after generation, we see melancholy proof indeed of that corruption which has been entailed on mankind. 1 Cor. x, 11. (See Gray's Key to the Old Testament,
(3.) But was not the full developement of human depravity reserved to the great crisis of man's redemption-individually in Judas, collectively in the Jews as a nation ; denying the Holy One and the Just; desiring a murderer to be granted to them; killing the Prince of life; and, after his resurrection, trampling under foot the blood of the Cross, and doing despite to the Spirit of Grace ?
Thus to us, who have the whole record of God's will, with what accumulated proof is our natural depravity confirmed!
II. God revealed the prospects of man gradually.
(1.) The prospects of the righteous were revealed gradually.
In righteous Abel, the first recorded victim to death, was declared from the beginning that this fallen world was no longer intended to be the scene of man's happiness; but that there remained a rest for the people of God. In Enoch’s translation, scarcely 50 years after the death of Adam, was shadowed forth the glorification of the body ; that this corruption would put on incorruption, and this mortal, immortality. Under the Old Testament dispensation, the Patriarchs looked for a better, even a heavenly country (Heb. xi. Gen. xlix. 18; Job xix. 25), their unsettled lives constantly impressing upon them the need of such a rest. That the dead are raised, Moses shewed at the bush (Luke xx. 37, 38). 600 years after Moses, and more than 2000 years after the translation of Enoch, the church was again cheered, in the translation of Elijah, by the dawning of the same glorious hope. The Prophets spoke of it with more distinctness (Ps. xvii. 15 ; Hosea xiii. 14; Dan. xii. 1–3); but life and immortality were brought to light by the Gospel (2 Tim. i. 10; 1 Cor. xv.; Phil. iii. 21): till then, eye had not seen, nor ear heard, nor had it entered into the heart of man to conceive what good things God had prepared for them that love him, and which he then revealed by the Spirit. 1 Cor. ü. 9.
(2.) The prospects of the wicked were revealed gradually.
As to the punishment awaiting the wicked in a future state, while traces of it are discernible from the beginning (Job xxi. 30 ; Ps. ix. 17; Dan. xii. 2; Jude 14.), it is to the Gospel, to the declarations of our Blessed Lord, (Matt. xiii. 41. xxv. 41-46; Mark ix. 44; Luke xvi. 23,) and of his apostles, (Rom. ii. ; 2 Thess. i. 8; Heb. x. 29; 2 Pet. iii.) we must turn for the full detail of that indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, which shall be the eternal portion of the finally impenitent (Rom. i. 18); and it is indeed an awful fact, that the most fearful denunciations of wrath to come are from the lips of the Saviour (Luke xii. 48 ; John iii. 19).
$ iii. The great work of man's redemption revealed
gradually. With the gradually accumulating illustrations of God's holiness and man's depravity, confirming man's need of redemption, the Bible gradually unfolded the nature of that redemption. When this illustration was complete, that
redemption came--4000 years after the Fall;—yet to Him whose understanding is infinite, to God, the only wise, this
“ the fulness of time.” (Gal. iv.) To understand how this dispensation was given gradually, the following view may be taken of the Old and New Testament.
1. In the Old Testament is the preparation made for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ as our Saviour.
2. The New Testament presents to us our Blessed Lord in our nature; actually come; purchasing that salvation; through the Holy Spirit unfolding its whole plan ; illustrating its effects on mankind when thus unfolded ; and, by prophecy, continuing the history of those effects to the consummation of all things.
1. In the Old Testament is the preparation made for the
coming of our Lord Jesus Christ as our Saviour.--The manner in which it pleased God to make this preparation for the coming of our Lord was chiefly by prophecy and type.
A type has been defined to be a prefigurative action or occurrence, in which one event, person, or circumstance is intended to represent another, similar to it in certain respects, but future. The Scriptures describe a type as shadow of good things to come" (Heb. x. 1)-a shadow, of which the body is Christ (Col. ii. 17). Shadows are not exact resemblances, but give only a dark outline ; yet with sufficient distinctness to convey some general idea of the body, especially when afterwards we have the body with which to compare them. One distinction between a prophecy and a type is, that prophecy is a prediction by something saida type, usually by something done, or presented to our
The first revelation to fallen man contained, as has been already hinted (p. 39, 40), a prophetic declaration of mercy, which was an outline of the whole plan ; or as a seed, containing within itself the elements of the future plant.
The first recorded act of acceptable worship after the Fall was connected with a type; expressing by an action what the first prophecy had declared by words.
The prophecy to Adam, Gen. iii. 15, that the Seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head, &c. intimated the triumph of the Messiah, though not without suffering to himself. Abel's sacrifice of a lamb shadowed forth that which was the great purpose of the Messiah's coming—the putting away sin by the sacrifice of Himself, the innocent substitute for guilty man. The act of approaching God by slaying an innocent animal could not have been suggested to any pious mind, as in itself an acceptable mode of worship; but it is immediately seen how, as a Divine appointment in reference to the Messiah, it was suited to impress on sinful man, in the innocent thus suffering for his guilt, that the wages of sin was death—that more than repentance was necessary to forgiveness—that without shedding of blood was no remission : while the impossibility of the blood of a lamb taking away sin, would teach the offerer to look forward to His coming (the Seed of the woman) whose merits could alone give value to such an offering. The