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we find Melchisedec, one of the kings of Canaan, was priest of the most high God. And after this the true religion was Řept up for a while among some of the rest of Abraham's pogo terity, besides the family of Jacob ; and also in some of the posterity of Nahor, as we have instances of, in Job, and his three friends, and Elihu. The land of Uz, where Job lived, was a land possessed by thė posterity of Uz, or Huz, the son of Nahor, Abraham's brother, of whom we read; Gen. xxii. 21. Bildad the Shuhíte was of the offspring of Shuah, Abraham's son by Kétúrah, Gen. xxv. 1, %; and Elihu the Buzite, was of Buż the son of Nahor, the brother of Abraham. So the true religion lasted among some other people, besides the Israelites, a while after Abraham. But it did not last long, and it is probable that the time of their total rejection, and giving up to idolatrý, was about the time when God separáted the children of Israel from Egypt to serve him ; for they are often put in mind on that occasion, that God had now sepa arated them to be his peculiar people or to be distinguished from all other people upon earth, to be his people alone : To be his portion, when others were rejected. This seems to hold forth thus much to us, that God now chose thém in such a manner, that this visible choice of them was accompanied with a visible rejection of all other nations in the world ; that God vísibly came, and took up his residence with them, as forsaking alf other nations.
And so, as the first calling of the Gentiles after Christ came, was accompanied with a rejection of the Jews ; so the first calling of the Jews to be God's people, when they were called out of Egypt, was accompanied with a rejection of the Gentiles.
Thus all the Gentile nations throughout the whole world, all nations, but only the Israelites, and those that embodied themselves with them, were left and given up to idolatry; and so continued a great many ages, even from this time till Christ came, which was about fifteen hundred years. They were concluded so long a time in unbelief, that there might be a thorough proof of the necessity of a Saviour ; that it might appear by so long a trial, past all contradiction, that
mankind were utterly insufficient to deliver themselves from that gross darkness and misery, and subjection to the devil, that they had fallen under ; that it might appear that all the wisdom of the philosophers, and the wisest men that the Heathen had among them, could not deliver them from their darkness, for the greater glory to Jesus Christ, who, when he came, enlightened and delivered them by his glorious gospel. Herein the wonderful wisdom of God appeared, in thus preparing the way for Christ's redemption. This the scripture teaches us, as in 1 Cor. i. 21. “ For after that, in the wisdom of God, the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe."
Here I might consider as another work of God, whereby the general work of redemption was carried on, that wonderful deliverance which he wrought for the children of Israel at the Red Sea, when they were pursued by the hosts of the Egyptians, and were just ready to be swallowed up by them, there being, to human appearance, no possibility of an escape. But as this may be referred to their redemption out of Egypt, and considered as a part of that more general work, I shall not further enlarge upon
it. III. The next thing that I shall take notice of here, that was done towards the work of redemption, is God's giving the morat law in so awful a manner at Mount Sinai. This was another new thing that God did, a new step taken in this great affair. Deut. iv. 33. “ Did ever a people hear the voice of God speaking out of the midst of the fire, as thou hast heard, and live ?” And it was a great thing that God did towards this work, and that whether we consider it as delivered as a new exhibition of the covenant of works, or given as a rule of life.
The covenant of works was here exhibited to be as a school. master to lead to Christ, not only for the use of that nation in the ages of the Old Testament, but for the use of God's church throughout all ages of the world ; as an instrument that the great Redeemer makes use of to convince men of their sin and misery, and helpless state, and of God's awful and tremendous majesty and justice as a lawgiver, and so to make men sensible of the necessity of Christ as a Saviour. The work of redemption, in its saving effect on men's souls, in all the progress of it to the end of it, is not carried on without the use of this law that was now delivered at Sinai,
It was given in an awful manner, with a terrible voice, exceedingly loud and awful, so that all the people that were in the camp trembled ; and Moses himself, though so intimate a friend of God, yet said, I exceedingly fear and quake; the voice being accompanied with thunders and lightnings, the mountain burning with fire to the midst of heaven, and the earth itself shaking and trembling ; to make all sensible how great that authority, power, and justice was, that stood engage ed to exact the fulfilment of this law, and to see it fully executed; and how strictly God would require the fulfilment; and how terrible his wrath would be against every breaker of it; that men being sensible of these things, might have a thorough trial of themselves, and might prove their own hearts, and know how impossible it is for them to have, salvation by the works of the law, and might see the absolute neces: sity they stood in of a mediator.
If we regard this law now given at Mount Sinai, not as the covenant of works, but as a rule of life ; so it is made use of by the Redeemer, from that time to the end of the world, as a directory to his people, to show them the way in which they must walk as they would go to heaven : For a way of sincere and universal obedience to this law is the narrow way that leads to life.
IV. The next thing that is observable in this period, was God's giving the typical law, in which I suppose to be included most or all those precepts that were given by Moses, that did not properly belong to the moral law ; not only those laws that are commonly called ceremonial, in distinction from judicial laws, which are the laws prescribing the ceremonies and circumstances of the Jewish worship, and their ecclesiastical state ; but also many, if not all those divine laws that were political, and for regulating the Jewish commonwealth, commonly called judicial laws; these were at best many of them typical. The giving this typical law was another great thing that God did in this period, tending to build up this glorious
structure of redemption that God had been carrying on from
To this typical law belong all the précepts that relate to
V. About this time was given to God's church the first
It is not very
as appears by considering whose posterity the persons wero that are spoken of in it, together with Job's great age, that was past before this was written.
The written word of God is the main instrument Christ has made use of to carry on his work of redemption in all ages since it was given. There was.ą pecessity now of the word of God's being committed to writing, for & steady rule to God's church, Before this, the church had the word of God by tradition, either by immediate tradition from eminent men that were inspired, that were then living, (for it was a com: mon thing in those days, before there was a written word, for God to reveal himself immediately to eminent persons, as appears by the book of Job, and many other things that might be mentioned, in the book of Genesis) or else they had it by tradition from former generations, which might be had with tolerable certainty in ages preceding this, by reason of the long lives of men. Noah might converse with Adam, and receive traditions from him; and Noah lived till about Abraham's time : And the sons of Jacob lived a considerable time to de liver the revelations made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to their posterity in Egypt.. But the distance from the begin. ping of things was become so great, and the lives of men become so short, being brought down to the present standard about Moses's time, and God having now separated a nation to be a peculiar people, partly for that end to be the keepers of the oracles of God; God saw it to be a needful and conver nient time now to commit his word to writing, to remain henceforward for a steady rule throughout all ages.
And therefore, besides the book of Job, Christ wrote the ten commandments on tables of stone, with his own finger; and after this the whole law, as containing the substance of the five books of Moses, was by God's special command committed to writing which was called the book of the law, and was laid up in the tabernacle, to be kept there for the use of the church ; as you may see, Deut. xxxi. 24, 25, 26.
VI. God was pleased now wonderfully to represent the progress of his redeemed church through the world to their eternal inheritance, by the journey of the children of Israel