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he replies, My son, God will provide himself a lamb. And accordingly you find that just as Abraham was on the point of slaying his son, the angel of God, calling him from heaven, stays his hand; And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and be hold, behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horn: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt-offering in the stead of his
And thus the awakened sinner, while confessing his sin, and acknowledging the justice of that sentence which doomed him even to hell, is enabled to say, God will provide himself a lamb; thus doth he by faith lift up
his eyes, and behold the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, Christ Jesus, and in prayer and humble supplication offer him to God in the stead of his own soul. Thus, you see, was the Gospel preached before unto Abraham; and it was probably in allusion to this that our Lord said, Abraham rejoiced to see my day, and he saw it, and was glad. John viii. 56. That is, perhaps, he did, by this offering up of the ram instead of Isaac, understand the sacrifice of Christ in the sinner's stead; and being himself, though the father of the faithful, yet still, with all the children of Adam, a sinner, he rejoiced in this revelation that was made to him of the mercy of God and the way of salvation.
2. In Genesis xxviii. you have another revelation of the Lord Jesus, in a vision to Jacob. He lighted, we are told, upon a certain place, and tarried there all night, because the sun was set, and he took of the stones of that place, and put them for his pillows, and lay down in that place to sleep. And
he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven, and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it. And behold the Lord stood above it. This dream our Lord himself interpreted; Hereafter, saith he to Nathanael, shall ye see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of
Jacob lay asleep at the bottom of the ladder, God stood at the top; the ladder signified Christ Jesus, and the angels ascended and descended upon him : clearly showing this, that the only way in which we can see heaven opened to us is in Christ; we can have boldness to enter into the holiest only by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us through the vail, that is to say, his flesh ;—the only way
in which polluted sinners can be admitted to the presence of a holy God; the only ladder, at the top of which, as it were, God stands, is Christ; through Him, and Him alone, we all have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins; the only way, by which a communication takes place between heaven and earth,—the angels descending to us on errands of mercy, and ascending to heaven with the glad tidings of returning sinners, -is, Christ. How much, therefore, of the Gospel is contained in that one simple but expressive image, of the ladder set up from earth to beaven!
3. The history of Joseph we do not find in the New Testament applied to Christ ; nevertheless, there is such a remarkable likeness between the circumstances of the life of Joseph and those of the life of Christ, that I cannot pass on without
pointing them out to you. Joseph, the beloved son of his father Jacob, you find, Genesis xxxvii., sent on a message of kindness to his brethren, who hated him, and who, on his coming to them, sold him as a slave to the Ishmaelites. The Ishmaelites, Genesis xxxix., carry him into Egypt, where, in process of time, he is cast into prison. Thus, my brethren, was Christ the beloved of his Father; thus was he sent on a message of astonishing mercy to a world of sinners, whom he condescended to call his brethren ; thus was he hated of those sinners for whose salvation he came into the world; for He came to his own, and his own received him not; thus was he betrayed and sold to the Gentiles; and brought at last to the prison of the grave. But now, again, view Joseph in his exaltation ; Genesis xli., you find him brought out of prison, raised to the government of the whole kingdom ; according unto thy word, says Pharaoh to him, shall all my people be ruled ; only in the throne will I be greater than thou: you find him supplying all the people with bread, without which they must have perished; and every favour that was granted by Pharaoh passing through the hands of Joseph. And when all the land of Egypt was famished, the people cried to Pharaoh for bread; and Pharaoh said unto all the Egyptians, Go unto Joseph; what he saith to you, do. And, lastly, you find him not only thus dispensing favours to the people of Egypt, but, Gen. xlvii., getting great property and glory for Pharaoh by his wise administration. Behold, says he to the people, I have bought you this day and your land for Pharaoh. Now in all this what a striking picture have we of the exaltation of Christ! He was raised from the prison and bands of the grave; all things are put in subjection under his feet, yea, nothing left that is not put under him, the Father only excepted, who did put all things under him. Thus, as the one only Mediator between God and man, he supplies his people with that spiritual bread, without which they must indeed be famished, for out of his fulness have all we received: thus, every favour which comes from God to sinners comes through him, for Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which, according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away, 1 Peter i. 4, 5; and thus, lastly, doth he glorify the Father by buying, as it were, sinners, body, soul, and spirit, for God, for believers are the purchased possession to the praise of his glory; ye, saith S. Peter, are a chosen generation, a royal nation, a holy priesthood, a peculiar people, that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: which in time past were not a people but are now the people of God.
4. Another history in which Old Testament saints had much of Christ displayed to them is that of the Passover. God had sent many messages to Pharaoh, king of Egypt, (it can hardly be necessary to inform any of you that this was a different Pharaoh from the last whom we were mentioning,) to let the children of Israel
by refusing to obey, Pharaoh had drawn down many plagues upon himself and all the land of Egypt. At length God resolves by a tremendous judgment to compel the Egyptians to let his people go. And Moses said, Thus saith the Lord, About midnight will I go out into the land of Egypt : and all the first-born in the land of Egypt shall die, from the first-born of Pharaoh that sitteth upon his throne, even unto the first-born of the maid-servant that is behind the mill; and all the first-born of beasts. And there shall be a great cry throughout all the land of Egypt, such as there was none like it, nor shall be like it any more. My friends, this is but a picture, an awful though imperfect picture, of that great day when God shall come to judge the world. This dreadful stroke upon Egypt was at midnight, a time when men are in the greatest quiet, and least fearful of danger. So shall the coming of the Son of man be; sudden, unexpected, unprepared for by an ungodly world. The day of the Lord, saith S. Paul, so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety, then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child, and they shall not escape.
What a cry shall be then throughout the world, such, indeed, as there was none like it, nor shall be like it any more, when it shall be said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of Him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb. For the great day of his wrath is come: and who shall be able to stand? But let us see how the Israelites escaped on this destruction of the first-born. In