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From the Fall to the Incarnation
Y first task is, to show how the work of redemption is carried on from the fall of man to the incarnation of Christ, under the first proposition, viz.
That the space of time from the fall of man to the incarnation of Christ, was taken up in doing those things that were forerunners and earnests of Christ's coming, and working out redemption, and were preparatory to it.
The great works of God in the world during this whole
God wrought many lesser salvations and deliverances for his church and people before Christ came. These salvations were all but so many images and forerunners of the great salvation Christ was to work out when he should come. God revealed himself of old, from time to time, from the fall of man to the coming of Christ. The church during that space
of time enjoyed the fight of divine revelation, or God's word.
They had in a degree the light of the gospel. But all these revelations were only so many forerunners and earnests of the great light that he should bring who came to be the light of the world. That whole space of time was as it were the time of night, wherein the church of God was not indeed wholly without light; But it was like the light of the moon and stars, that we have in the night; a dim light in comparison of the light of the sun, and mixed with a great deal of darkness. It had no glory, by reason of the glory that excelleth, 2 Cor. iii. io. The church had indeed the light of the sun ; but it was only as réflected from the moon and stars. The church alt that while was a minor. This the apostle evidently teaches in Gal. iv. 1, 2, 3. « Now I say that the heir, as long as he is. a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all; but is under tütors and governors, until the time appointed of the father. Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world."
But here, for the greater clearness and distinctness, I would subdivide this period, from the fall of man to the coming of Christ, into six tesser periods, or parts...... The
1st. Extending from the fall to the flood....the
From the Fall to the Flood.
THIS was.a period farthest of all distant from Christ's ina čarnation, yet then this great work was begun to be carried on; then was this glorious building begun, that will motibe finished till the end of the world, as I would now show you how. And to this purpose I would observe, VOL. I.
I. As soon as ever man fell, Christ entered on his, mediato·ial work. Then it- was that Christ, first took on - him the work and office of a mediator. He had undertaken it before ühe world was. made. He stood engaged with the Father to appear as man's mediator, and to take on him that office when there should be occasion, from all eternity. But now the time
When man fell, then the occasion came; and then Christ immediately, without further delay, entered on his work, and took on him that office that he had stood engage ed to take on him from eternity. As soon as ever man fell, Christ the eternal Son of God clothed himself with the mediatorial character, and therein presented himself before the Father. He immediately stepped in between an holy, infinite, offended Majesty, and offending mankind; and was accepted in his interposition ; and so wrath was prevented from going forth in the full execution of that amazing curse that man had brought on himself.
It is manifest that Christ bėgan to exercise the office of mediator between God and man as soon as ever man fell, becausé mercy began to be exercised towards man immediately. There was mercy in the forbearance of God, that he did not destroy him, as he did thë angels when they fell. But there is no mercy exercised towards fallen man büt through a mediator. If God had not in mercy restrained Satan, he would immediately have seized on his prey. Christ began to do the part of an intercessor for man as soon as he fell. There is no mercy exercised towards man but what is obtained through Christ's intercession ; so that now Christ was entered on his work that he was to continue in throughout all ages of the world. From that day forward Christ took on him the care of the church of the elect; he took on him the care of fallen man in the exercise of all his offices; he undertook thenceforward to teach mankind in the exercise of his prophetical office ; and also to intercede for fallen man in his priestly office ; and he took on him, as it were, the care and burden of the government of the church, and of the world of mankind, from this day forward. He from that time took upon him the care of the defence of his elect church from all their éne
Inies. When Satan, the grand enemy, had conquered and overthrown man, the business of resisting and conquering him was committed to Christ. He thenceforward undertook to manage that subtle powerful adversary. He was then appointed the Captain of the Lord's hosts, and the Captain of their salvation, and always acted as such thenceforward ; and so he appeared from time to time, and he will continue to act as such' to the end of the world. Henceforward this lower
vorld, with all its concerns, was, as it were, devolved upon the Son of God: For when man had sinned, God the father would have no more to do with man immediately ; he would no more have any immediate concern with this world of mankind, that had apostatized from, and rebelled against him. He would henceforward have no concern with man, but only through a mediator, either in teaching men, or in governing or bestowing any benefits on them.
And therefore, when we read in sacred history what God did from time to time towards his church and people, and what he said to them, and how he revealed himself to them, we are to understand it especially of the second person of the Trinity. When we read of God's appearing after the fall, from time to time, in some visible form or outward symbol of his presence, we are ordinarily, if not universally, to understand it of the second person of the Trinity ; which
be argued from John i. 18. “ No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son,, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him." He is therefore called “ the image of the invisible God,” Col. i. 15; intimating, that though God the Father be invisible, yet Christ is his image or representation, by which he is seen, or by which the Church of God hath often had a representation of him, that is not invisible, and in particular that Christ has after appeared in an human forme
Yea not only was this lower world devolved on Christ; that he might have the care and government of it, and order it agreeably to his design of redemption, but also in some respect the whole universe. The angels' from that time were committed to him, to be subject to him in his mediatorial.of;
fices to be ministering spirits to him in this affair; and accordingly were so from this time forward, as is manifest by the scripture history, wherein we have accounts from time to time of their acting as ministering spirits in the affairs of the Church of Christ.
And therefore we may suppose, that immediately on the fall of man, it was made known in heaven among the angels, that God had a design of redemption with respect to fallen man, and that Christ had now taken upon him the office and work of a mediator between God and man, that they might know their business henceforward, which was to be subser, vient to Christ in this office, and as Christ, in thịs office, has since that, as God man and Mediator, been solemnly exaltedand installed the King of heaven, and is thengeforward as God man, Me: diator, the Light, and as it were, the Sun of heaven, agreeable to Rev. xxi. 23. “And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof;", so this revelation that was made in heaven among the angels, of Christ's now having taken on him the office of a mediator between God and man, was as it were the first dayning of this light in 'heaven. When Christ ascended into heaven after his passion, and was solemnly installed in the throne, as King of heaven, then this sun rose in heaven, even the Lamb that is the light of the new Jerusalem. But the light began to dawn immediately after the fall.
II. Presently upon this the gospel was first revealed on earth, in these words, Gen. ii. 15. “ And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed : It shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.?} We must supposé, that God's intention of redeeming fallen man was first signified in heaven, before it was signified on earth, because the business of the angels as ministering spirits of the Mediater required it ; for as soon as ever Christ had takerr on him the work of a mediator, it was requisite that the angels should be ready immediately to be subservient to him in that office : So that the light first dawned in heaven; but rery soon after the same was signified on earth. In those