The harmony of the divine attributes in the contrivance and accomplishment of man's redemption by the Lord Jesus Christ, or, Discourses wherein is shewed how the wisdom, mercy, justice, holiness, power, and truth of God are glorified in that great and blessed work
Bates, William, 1625-1699.
Page  480

CHAP. XXII.

The Honour of God's Truth with respect to the Legal Threatning, was preserv'd in the Death of Christ. The Divine Truth with respect to the Promises and Types of Christ under the Law, was justified in his Coming, and the accomplishment of our Redemption by him. Some special Predictions consider'd that respect the time of his Coming. The particular Cir∣cumstances that respect the Messiah are verified in Jesus Christ. The Consequents of the Messia's Coming, foretold by the Prophets, are all come to pass. The Types of the Law are compleated in Christ. A particular Consideration of Manna, the Rock, and the brazen Serpent, as they referr'd to him. The Paschal Lamb considered. A short Parallel between Melchisedec and Christ. The Divinity of the Gospel proved, by comparing the antient Figures with the present Truth, and Predictions with the Events. The Happiness of Christians above the Jews in the clear revelation of our Saviour to them. From the accomplishment of Prophecies concerning the first Coming of Christ, our Faith should be confirmed in the Promises of his second.

THe Original Law given to Man in Paradise had a severe Penalty annext, that upon the first breach of it he should die. The end of the threat∣ning was to preserve in him a constant reverence of the Command. After his Disobedience, the ho∣nour of the Divine Truth was concern'd as to the inflicting the punishment. For although the Su∣preme Page  481 Lawgiver hath power over the Law to relax the Punishment as to particular persons; yet having declar'd that according to that Rule He would pro∣ceed in judgment with Man, the Perfection of his Truth required, that Sin should be punish'd in such a manner, that his Righteousness and Holiness might eminently appear, and the reasonable Creature for ever fear to offend Him. Now the God of Truth hath by the Death of his only Son so compleatly an∣swered the Ends of the legal Threatning, that the glory of that Attribute is broke forth like the Sun through all the Clouds that seem'd to obscure it. Mercy and Truth meet together, Righteousness and Peace kiss each other. Of this I have so largely treated before, that I shall add nothing more concerning it. There is a Secondary respect wherein the truth of God is concern'd, as to the accomplishing our Redempti∣on by Jesus Christ, which I will briefly explicate. God having decreed the sending of his Son in the quality of Mediator to purchase our Salvation, was pleased by several Promises to declare his merciful purpose, and by various Types to shew the design of that glorious Work, before the exhibition of it. This was the effect of his Supreme Wisdom and Goodness: First, To comply with the weakness of the Church, when 'twas newly separated from the World. For as a sudden strong Light overpowers the Eye that hath been long in the dark, so that full bright Revelation of the Gospel had been above the capa∣city of the Church when 'twas first freed from a state of Ignorance: Light mixt with Shadows was proportionable to their Sight. Therefore he was pleased by several Representations and Predictions to exercise the Faith, entertain the Hope, and excite Page  482 the Desires of his People before the accomplishment of our Salvation by his Son: Secondly, To render the belief of it easie and certain afterwards. Now for the honour of his Truth he was engaged to make good his word: For although pure Love and Mercy is the Original of all God's Promises to Man, yet his Truth and Fidelity are the reasons of his ful∣filling them. Not that God is under the obligation of a Law, but his own righteous Nature is the in∣violable Rule of his actions. Accordingly the Apo∣stle laies it as the foundation of our Hopes; That God who cannot lie hath promised eternal Life.* The Divine Decree alone concerning our Salvation by Christ, is a sure Foundation: For God is as un∣changeable in his Will as his Nature. In Him there is no variableness,*nor shadow of turning. But the Promise determines the Will of God to perform it upon another account: For 'tis not single Incon∣stancy but Falshood, not to perform what is pro∣mised, from both which He is infinitely distant. St. Paul alledges this for the reason why the Cove∣nant of Grace is unchangeable and of everlasting Efficacy, in that the counsel of God was by his Pro∣mise and Oath confirmed,*That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lye, we might have strong consolation. For the Promise gives a rightful claim to the Creature, and the fulfilling of it is the justification of God's Fidelity. In this Sense 'tis said, The Law was given by Moses, but Grace and Truth came by Jesus Christ,*i. e. the Grace of the Gospel is the substantial and compleat accomplish∣ment of the Types and Promises under the Law. I will not enter into the discussion of all the Prophecies concerning the Messiah in the Old Testament, to shew Page  483 how they are verified in Jesus Christ; But briefly consider some special Predictions that concern the time of the Messiah's Coming, his Person and Offices.

1. The Prophecy of dying Jacob.*The Scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a Lawgiver from be∣tween his feet, till Shiloh come. By the Scepter and Lawgiver are meant divers Forms of Govern∣ment: the first being the mark of Regal Power▪ the other title respects those whose Power succeeded that of their Kings, in the person of Zerobabel and his Successors. Jacob prophetically declares two things; their establishment in Judah, and their continuance till the coming of Shiloh. This Oracle doth not precisely respect the person of Judah, for he never ascended the Throne, nor possest the Empire over his Brethren; nor solely his Posterity as a Tribe di∣stinguisht from the rest, although it had special ad∣vantages from that time:* For the Banner of Judah led the Camp in their march through the wilder∣ness: That Tribe had the first possession of the land of Canaan; these were the beginnings of its future Glo∣ry. And from David to the Captivity, that Tribe possest the Kingdom; But the glory of his Scepter was lost in the person of Zedekiah: Therefore the full meaning of the Prophecy regards the People of Israel, in the relation they had to the Tribe of Judah: For that Tribe alone returned entire from the Cap∣tivity with some reliques of Levi and Benjamin, so that the Nation from that time was distinguisht by the title of the Jews in relation to it; and the Right to dispose of the Scepter was alwaies in the Tribe of Judah: For the Levites that ruled after the Capti∣vity received their Power from them. 'Till Shiloh come, that is, the Messiah, as the Chaldee Paraphrase, and the antient Jewish Interpreters expound; So that Page  484 the intent of the Oracle is, that after the establish∣ment of the Supreme Power in the Family of Judah, it should not pass into the hands of Strangers but as a certain Presage, and immediate Fore-runner of of the coming of Shiloh. And this was fully ac∣complish't. For in the Captivity there was an in∣terruption rather than extinction of their Govern∣ment. Their Return was promised at the time they were carried Captives to Babylon. But at the coming of Christ, Judea was a Province of the Roman Em∣pire, Herod an Edomite sate on the Throne; and as the Tribe of Judah in general, so the Family of Da∣vid in particular was in such a low state, that Joseph and Mary that were descended from him, were con∣strain'd to lodg in a stable at Bethlehem. And since the blessed Peace-maker hath appear'd on the Earth, the Jews have lost all Authority; their Civil and Ecclesiastical State is utterly ruin'd, and they bear the visible marks of infamous Servitude.

2. The Second famous Prediction is by an Angel to Daniel,* when he was lamenting the ruine of Jeru∣salem, who comforted him with an assurance that the City should be rebuilt: And further told him, That from the going forth of the Commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem,*unto the Messiah the Prince, shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two Weeks the streets shall be built again, and the wall even in trouble∣some times. And after threescore and two weeks shall the Messiah be cut off, but not for himself, and the People of the Prince that shall come, shall destroy the City and Sanctuary, and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and to the end of the war desolations are determined. The clear intent of the Angels Message is, That within the space of seventy Prophetical Weeks (that Page  485 is four hundred and ninety years according to the Ex∣position of the Rabbins themselves) after the issuing forth the order for the rebuilding Jerusalem, the Messiah should come, and be put to Death for he sins of Men which was exactly fulfil'd.

3. The time of the manifestation of the Messiah is evidently set down in the Haggai 2.6, 7, 8, 9. I will shake all Nations, and the desire of all Nations shall come, and I will fill this house with Glory saith the Lord of hosts. The Silver is mine and the Gold is mine, saith the Lord of Hosts. The Glory of the latter shall be greater than that of the former, saith the Lord of Hosts, and in this place will I give peace. The Prophet to en∣courage the Jews in building the Temple assur'd them that it should have a surpassing Glory by the presence of the Messiah, who is call'd the Desire of all Nations, and being the Prince of Peace his coming is described by that blessed effect, and in this place will I give Peace, saith the Lord of Hosts.

The second Temple was much inferiour to Solo∣mons as in Magnificence and external Ornaments, so especially because defective in those Excellencies that were peculiar to the first. They were the Ark of the Covenant, and the appearance of Glory between the Cherubims, the fire from Heaven to consume the Sacrifices, the Urim and Thummim, and the Holy Ghost who inspir'd the Prophets. But when the Lord came to his Temple, and perform'd many of his Mira∣cles Page  486 there, this brought a Glory to it infinitely ex∣ceeding that of the former. For what comparison is there between the shadowy presence of God between the Cherubims, and his real presence in the hu∣mane Nature of Christ, in whom the fulness of the God-head dwelt bodily. How much inferiour were the Priests and Prophets to him, who came from Hea∣ven, and had the Spirit without measure, to reveal the Counsel of God for the Salvation of the World.

2. The particular Circumstances foretold concer∣ning the Messiah are, all verified in Jesus Christ. It was foretold that the Messiah should have a fore-runner;* to prepare his way by preaching the Doctrine of Re∣pentance, that he should be Born of a Virgin, and of the Family of David and in the Town of Bethlehem that he shold go into Egypt, & be cal'd forth from thence by God, that his chief residence should be in Galilee the region of Zebulon and Nephthali, that he should be poor and humble, and enter into Hierusalem on the Fole of an Ass, that he should perform great mira∣cles in restoring the Blind, the Lame, the Deaf and Dumb, that he should suffer many afflictions, Con∣tempt, Scorn, Stripes, be Spit on, Scourg'd, be∣tray'd by his familiar Friend, sold for a sordid Price, that he should be put to Death, that his hands and feet should be bored, and his side pierc'd, that he should dy between Thieves, that in his Passion he should taste vinegar and gall, that his garments should be divided and Lots be cast for his Coat, that he should be buried, and his Body not see corruption but rise again the third day, that he should ascend to Heaven and sit at the right hand of God, and all these Predictions are exactly fulfil'd in the Lord Christ.

Page  4873. The consequents of his Coming are foretold.

1. That the Jews should reject him because of the meanness of his appearance. They neither under∣stood the Greatness and Majesty,* nor the Abasement of the Messiah described in their Prophesies: not his Greatness, that the Son of David was his Lord, that he was before Abraham, who rejoyced to his Day: for they did not believe the Eternity of his Divine Na∣ture, They did not understand his humiliation to Death: Therefore 'twas objected by them that the Messiah remains for ever, and this Person saith he shall dy. They fancied a carnal Messiah shining with Worldly pomp, accompanied with thundring legions, to deliver them from Temporal Servitude, so that when they saw him without form and come∣liness, and that no Beauty was in him to make him desireable, they hid their Faces from him, they despised and esteemed him not. Thus by their obstinate refusal of the Messiah, they really and visibly fulfil'd the Prophecies concerning him.

2. That the Levitical Ceremonies and Sacrifices should cease upon the Death of the Messiah,* and the Jewish Nation be dissolved. Although the legal Ser∣vice was establisht with great solemnity, yet there was alwayes a sufficient indication that it should not be perpetual. Moses who delivered the Law told them that God would raise another Prophet whom they must hear.* And David compos'd a Psalm to be sung in the Temple, containing the establishment of a Priest, not according to the order of Levi but Melchisedec, who should bring in a Worship Spiritual and Divine. And we see this accomplisht, all the Ceremonies were buried in his grave & the Sacrifices for above sixteen hundred years are ceast. Besides the destruction of the Page  488 Holy City and Sanctuary, the Jews are scatter'd in all parts, and in their dreadful dispersion suffer the just punishment of their Infidelity.

3. It was Prophesied that in the time of the Messi∣ah Idols should be ruin'd,* and Idolaters converted to the knowledg of the true God. That he should be a Light to the Gentiles, and to him the gathering of the People should be. And this is so visibly accomplisht in the conversion of the World to Christianity, that not one jot or title of Gods Word hath fail'd; so that be∣sides the Glory due to his Power and Mercy, we are obliged to honour him as the Fountain of Truth.

I will now make some short reflections upon the Types of the Law to show how they are compleated in Christ. The Mosaic Dispensation was so contriv'd as to bear a resemblance of the Messiah in all its parts. The Law had a shadow of good things to come: Christ was the end of the Law:* the substance of those sha∣dows.

The main design of the Epistle to the Hebrews is to shew, that in the antient Tabernacle there were models of the Heavenly things reveal'd in the Gos∣pel. The great number of Types declares the varie∣ty of the Divine Wisdom, and the admirable fulness of Christ in whom they are verified. Three sorts were instituted.

1. Some were things without Life, whose quali∣ties and effects shadowed forth his Vertues and Bene∣fits. 2. Things endued with Life and Sence. 3. Reasonable Persons that either in their offices, actions, or the memorable accidents that befel them, represented the Messiah. Of the first sort I will briefly consider the Manna that miraculously fell from Hea∣ven, the Rock that by its stream refresht the Israe∣litesPage  489 in their Journey to Canaan, and the Brasen Serpent: premising two things. 1. That in com∣paring them with the Truth we are to observe the design of God, and not to seek for Mysteries in eve∣ry thing. As in Pictures some strokes of the Pencil are only for ornament, others for signification. Be∣sides, when Superlative things are spoken of them ex∣ceeding their Nature, and that cannot be applied to them without a violent figure, the full and entire Truth is only found in Jesus Christ.

1. Manna was an eminent Type of him. Accor∣dingly the Apostle declares of the Israelites, they did all eat the same Spiritual meat, not in respect of its Material but Symbolical Nature. The express A∣nalogy between Manna and Christ, is visible in re∣spect of its marvelous production. The Mosaical Manna was not the fruit of the Earth procur'd by humane industry, but form'd by the Divine Power, and rain'd down upon them: therefore 'tis called the Corn of Heaven. This typified the celestial ori∣ginal of our Redeemer. He is the true bread from Heaven, given by the Father.* He is call'd the gift of God eminently, being the richest and freest, without any merit or indeavour of Men to procure it. And we may observe the truth infinitely exceeded the Type; for Manna descended only from the Clouds, therefore our Saviour tells the Jews, Moses gave ye not that bread from Heaven. But he really came from Heaven, where the great and Glorious Presence of God is manifested, and appear'd under a visible form in the World. Manna was only stil'd the Bread of Angels, to signify its excellency above common food, but the bread of God is he which cometh down from Hea∣ven.

Page  4902. Manna was dispenst to all the Israelites equal∣ly▪ not as the delicious fruits of the Earth that are the portion of a few, but as the light and influences of the Heavens that are common to all: and herein 'twas a representation of Christ who is offer'd to all without distinction of Nations, to the Jews and Gen∣tiles, to the Graecians and Barbarians; and without the distinction of quality, to the Honourable and Mean, the Rich and the Poor, the Learned and Ig∣norant. And here we may observe the excellency of the Spiritual Manna above the Mosaical: for that ed but one nation, but the bread of God gives life to the World; his infinite merit is sufficient for the Salvation of all.

3. Manna was a delicious food: the Taste of it is described to be like wafers mixt with honey that have a pure chast sweetness: this typified the Love of Christ shed abroad in the hearts of Believers. Such an exalted ravishing pleasure proceeds from it, that the Psalmist breaks forth in an extasy, Taste and see how Good the Lord is.

4. Manna was their only support in the Wilder∣ness;* strengthning them to vanquish their Enemies, and endure the hardships to which they were incident in their passage to Canaan. In this regard 'twas a lively image of Christ who is our Spiritual food, whe we are in the desert of the lower World, the place of our trial, exposed to dangers. By him alone we shall be finally victorious over the Enemies of our Salvati∣on. And in this also the Truth is infinitely above the Type that prefigured it. For Manna could only pre∣serve the Natural Life for a time. As our Saviour tells the Jews, your Fathers eat Manna in the Wilder∣ness, and are dead. But Jesus Christ is the living Page  491 bread that came down from Heaven, and hath a Su∣pernatural Vertue,* to convey a Life incomparably more noble and answerable to the quality of his Original. 'Tis incorruptible as Heaven from whence He came. If any man eat of this Bread, he shall live for ever. Death is so far from extinguishing, that it advances the Spiritual Life to its perfection.

2. The Apostle testifies that the Israelites drank of that Spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ. That the Miracle was mysterious is evi∣dent from the circumstances related of it.* When the Israelites were in great distress for water, The Lord said to Moses, I will stand before thee there upon the Rock in Horeb, and thou shalt smite the Rock,*and there shall come water out of it, that the People may drink. If there had been no other design but the relieving their necessity, that might have been sup∣plied by rain from Heaven; or if only to give a visible effect of the Divine Power, that had been discovered in causing new Springs to rise from the Earth, or the Command of God had been sufficient to strike the Rock; But he went to it to signifie the respect it had to himself. He was the Son of God that spake to Moses, and conducted the People: For this reason He is stiled the Angel of Gods presence, not with respect to his Nature, but Offices.

I will briefly observe the parallel between the Rock and Christ.

1. A Rock is the ordinary Title of God in Scrip∣ture, to represent his unchangeable Nature, and in∣finite Power, whereby He upholds the World. And in a special manner it resembles the Messiah.* He is called The Stone which the builders refused, that was made the head of the corner. He is the Rock upon which Page  492 the Church is built, and secur'd against the violence of Hell. Now Israel was not supplied from the Clouds or the Valleys, but the Rock; to shew that the my∣stical Rock, the Son of God, can only refresh the Spiritual Israel with living Water.

2. The quality of the Rock hath a proper Signi∣fication: For although it had in its Veins a rich a∣bundance of Waters, yet to appearance nothing was more dry and hard. In this it was a Figure of the Spiritual Rock: The effects have discovered in him unfathomable depths of Righteousness, Grace and Salvation; yet at the first view we had no hopes. For if we consider Him as God, He is infinitely Holy and Just, encompast with everlasting flames against Sin, and how can we expect any cooling streams from Him?

If we consider him as Man, he is resembled to a root out of a dry ground; the Justice of the Divine and the infirmity of the Humane Nature did not promise any comfort to us.* But what cannot infinite Love, united to infinite Power, perform? Di∣vine Goodness hath chang'd the Laws of Nature in our favour, and by an admirable act open'd the Rock to refresh us.

3. The Rock was struck with the Rod of Moses a Type of the Law, before it sent forth its streams: thus our Spiritual Rock was wounded for our Transgressions, bruised for our Iniquities, & then opened all his treasures to us.*Being consecrated by Sufferings, he is the Au∣thor of Eternal Salvation. In this respect the Gospel propounds him for the object of saving Faith. I de∣termined to know nothing among you but Jesus Christ and him Crucified. The Sacraments, the Seals of the New Covenant, have a special reference to his Death the Foundation of it.

Page  4934. The Miraculous Waters followed the Israelites in their Journey, without which they had perisht in the Wilderness. This represents that Indeficiency of the Grace of Christ. A Soveraign stream flows from him to satisfy all Believers. He tells us, Who∣soever drinketh of the Water that I shall give him, shall never thirst; but the Water that I shall give him, shall be in him a Well of Water springing up unto Ever∣lasting Life.*

3. The Brasen Serpent sensibly exprest the manner of his Death and the benefits derived from it. There∣fore Jesus being the Minister of the Circumcision chose this Figure for the Instruction of the Jews. As Moses lifted up the Serpent in the Wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up: that whosoever be∣leeves in him should not perish, but have Eternal Life.* The Sacred Story relates, that the Israelites by their rebellious murmuring provoked God to send Serpents among them, whose Poison was so fiery and mortal, that it brought the most Painful Death. In this af∣fliction they addrest themselves to the Father of Mer∣cies, who World by their Repentance, Commanded Moses to make a Serpent of Brass, and erect it on a Pole in the view of the whole Camp, that whosoever lookt on it should be healed. By this account from Scripture we may clearly understand something of greatest consequence was represented by it: For the only Wise God ordains nothing without just reason. Why must a Serpent of Brass be elevated on a Pole? could not the Divine Power recover them without it? Why must they look towards it? could not a healing vertue be conveyed to their wounds but through their eyes? All this had a direct reference to the Myste∣ry of Christ. For the biting of the Israelites by the Page  494 fiery Serpents, doth naturaly represent the effects of Sin, that torments the Conscience, and inflames the Soul with the apprehensions of Future Judgment. And the erecting a Brasen Serpent upon a Pole, that had the Figure not the Poison of those Serpents, doth in a lively manner set forth the lifting up of Jesus Christ on the Cross, who only had the similitude of sinful flesh. The looking towards the Brasen Serpent is a fit resemblance of Believing in Christ Crucified for Salvation. The Sight of the eye was the only means to derive vertue from it, and the Faith of the heart is the means by which the Sovereign efficacy of our Re∣deemer is conveyed. This is the will of him that sent me, saith our Saviour, that every one which seeth the Son and believeth on him, may have Eternal Life. As in the camp of Israel, whoever lookt towards the Brasen Serpent, whatever his wounds were or the weakness of his sight, had a present remedy: so how numerous and grievous soever our Sins be, how infirm our Faith, yet if we sincerely regard the Son of God suffering, he will preserve us from Death. For this end he is presented in the Gospel as crucified before the eyes of all Persons.

2. Things endued with Life and Sense prefigur'd the Messiah.

[I] Shall particularly consider the Paschal Lamb, an illustrious Type of him. Christ our Passover was sacrificed for us. The whole scene, as it is laid down in the 12th of Exodus, shows an admirable agreement tween them.

1. A Lamb in respect of its natural innocency and meekness, that suffers without resistance, waas fit emblem of our Saviour, whose voice was not heard in the street, who did not break the Bruised Reed, nor quench Page  495 the smoking Flax. He was oppressed and he was afflict∣ed, yet he open'd not his Mouth. He is brought as a Lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before the shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his Mouth.

2. The Lamb was to be without Spot, to signify his absolute perfection. We are Redeemed with the precious Blood of Christ, as of a Lamb without blemish, and without Spot.*

3. The Lamb was to be separated from the Flock four days: the Lord Jesus was separated from Men, and consecrated to be the Sacrifice for the World, af∣ter three or four years spent in his Ministerial office, preparing himself for that great Work.

4. The Paschal Lamb was sacrificed and substituted in the place of the first-Born. The Levitical Priest∣hood not being instituted at their going forth from Egypt, every Master of a Family had a right to exer∣cise it in his own House. Our Redeemer suffer'd in our stead, to propitiate Gods Justice towards us.

5. The Blood was to be sprinkled upon the Posts of the door, that Death might not enter into their Houses. That sacred Ceremony was typical: for the sign it self had no resemblance of sparing, and certainly the Angel could distinguish between the Is∣raelites and the Egyptians without the bloody mark of Gods Favour: but it had a final respect to Christ. We are secur'd from destruction by the blood of sprink∣ling. They were to eat the whole Flesh of the Lamb, to signify our intire taking of Christ upon the terms of the Gospel to be our Prince and Saviour.

6. The effects attributed to the Paschal Lamb, viz. Redemption from Death and Bondage, clearly repre∣sent the Glorious Benefits we enjoy by Jesus Christ. Page  496 The destroying Angel past over their houses, and caus'd the Egiptians to restore them to full liberty. That which all the dreadful signs wrought by Moses could not do, was effected by the Passover; that overcame the stubbornness of Pharaoh, and inspir'd the Israelites with courage to undertake their journey to the promised Land. Thus we pass from Death to Life, and from bondage to the Glorious liberty of the Sons of God, by vertue of Christs Blood.

3. Reasonable Persons represented our Saviour either in their Offices, actions, or the memorable ac∣cidents that befel them. Joseph the beloved of his Father, sent by him to visit his Brethren, by them un∣worthily sold to strangers, and thereby rais'd to be their Lord and Saviour, was a lively type of him. Jo∣nach three dayes and nights in the Whales belly, and miraculously restor'd, was a type of his lying in the Grave and Resurrection. Moses in his Prophetical, David in his Kingly Office, praefigur'd him. The Priestly Office being the Foundation of the other two, and that upon which our Salvation principally de∣pends, was illustrated by two Glorious types. Mel∣chisedec and Aaron. The one the high Priest in ordina∣ry, the other the Priest of God by extraordina∣ry designation. I will briefly touch upon the resem∣blance between him and Christ. Although Sacrifi∣ces were offer'd from the Beginning; yet he is the first to whom that Title is given, as called to that office in a special manner. The Divinity of Christs Person, the Eternity of his Office, and the Infinite Value of his Oblation were shadowed forth by him. Melchisedec is introduc'd into the Sacred story as one descending from Heaven and ascending thither, with∣out any account of his Birth or Death. The silence Page  497 of the Scripture is Mysterious: for the Spirit con∣ducted Holy Men in their Writings. The Leviti∣cal Priests descended by Natural Generation from their predecessours, and had successours in their Of∣fice, which was annext to the race of Levi. But Mel∣chisedec is represented without Father and Mother, without Beginning and End of Days, whose Priesthood was permanent in himself. For things and Persons have a double being, real in themselves, and notion∣al as they exist in the mind; so that no mention being made of his coming into the World or leaving it, the silence of the Scripture is equivalent to his continual duration. Now in this was an adumbration of Christ who was the Eternal Son of God, and really came from Heaven to execute his office, and ascended thi∣ther. And although his oblation was finisht on the Earth, and his intercession shall cease in Heaven; yet the effects of it shall be Eternal in his People, and the Glory of it in himself. The Apostle observes an other resemblance between the Supreme Quality of Melchisedec King of Salem and Jesus Christ: He was King of Righteousness and Peace, He Govern'd his Subjects in Righteousness, and never stain'd those hands with humane Blood that were employed in the Sacred office of the Priesthood. And by those Glo∣rious Titles are signified the benefits our Saviour conveys to his People. He is the true King of Righ∣teousness: By which is not intended the Righteous∣ness that justifies before God, in which respect he is call'd the Lord our Righteousness, and is said, to have brought in Eternal Righteousness, for that respects his Priestly office: in that quality he acquir'd it. But that Title signifies his giving most Righteous Laws for the Government of the Church, and his dispensing Page  498 Righteous Rewards and Punishments, Eternal Life and Death, by which he preserves the Majesty of his Laws, and secures the obedience of his Subjects. And he is King of Peace, by which we are not to under∣stand his temper and disposition, nor our peace with God, for reconciliation is grounded on his Sacrifice; nor peace with Conscience the effect of the other, but that which depends on his Royalty. As the King of Peace he keeps his Subjects in a calm and quiet Obe∣dience; all their Thoughts and Passions are regulated by his Will. The Laws of secular Kings are only ex∣posed to the eyes, or proclaimed to the ears of their Subjects, but His are engraven in their hearts. By the inward and Almighty efficacy of his Spirit he in∣clines them to their Universal Duty; and will bring them to Eternal Peace in his Glorious Kingdom.

*First, From hence we have an irrefragable Argu∣ment of the Truth and Divinity of the Gospel: For 'tis evident by comparing the antient Figures with the present Truth, the Copies with the Original, the Pictures with the Life, that Eternal Wisdom contrived them. For no created Understanding could frame so various Represenations of Christ, and all exactly agreeing with him at such a distance before His appearance? And if we compare the Predicti∣ons with the Events, 'tis most clear that only the Divine Knowledg could reveal them. For other∣wise how was it possible, that the Prophets, so ma∣ny Ages before the Coming of Christ should pre∣dict those things concerning Him, that exceeded the foresight of all the Angels of Light? What Intelli∣gence could there be between Moses and David and Isaiah, that lived such a distance of time from one another, to deliver such things as meet in him as their Page  499 Centre? And these Prophecies are conveyed to us by the Jews, the most obstinate Enemies of Christi∣anity, who although they reverence the Letter, yet abhor the accomplishment of them; So that there can be no possible suspicion that they are feigned, and of a later Date than their titles declare. Their successive fulfilling is a perpetual Miracle to justifie the truth of our Religion. Our Saviour used this Method for the instruction of his Disciples.*These are the words which I spake unto you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Mo∣ses, and in the Prophets,*and in the Psalms concerning me. And St. Paul fram'd a powerful Demonstration from the Scriptures to prove that Jesus was the Christ. In his Writings he deciphers the riddles of the Law, and removes the Veil, to discover the Face of Christ engraven by the Divine Artificer. Briefly, by shew∣ing the consent between the two Testaments, he il∣luminates the Old by the New, and confirms the New by the Old. Now what Religion is there in the World whose Mysteries were foretold by the Oracles of God, and figured by his Institutions above two thousand Years before 'twas exhibited? Whose Doctrine perfectly accords with the most antient, venerable and Divine Writings? Can that Religion be any other than Divine, which God did so expres∣ly predict, and pourtray in such various manner, for the receiving whereof He made such early Prepara∣tions in the World? Certainly without offering the greatest violence to our rational Faculties, none can disbelieve it. He degrades himself from the dignity of being a Man, that refuses to be a Christian.

2. From hence we may understand the incompa∣rable Happiness of Christians, not only above the Page  500 Heathens, who by Divine Desertion were wholly Strangers to the Covenants of Mercy, but above God's peculiar People. The Messiah was the expectation and desire of Heaven and Earth. Before his coming the Saints had some glimmerings of Light, which made them inwardly languish after the blessed Mani∣festation of it: But that was reserved for Believers in the last Ages of the World. That antient Pro∣mise (the Morning Blush of the Gospel-Day) That the Seed of the Woman should break the head of the Ser∣pent, and the Serpent bruise his heel, signified the bloody Victory the Messiah should obtain over Satan, but how little of it was understood? One may as well from the sight of the Root foretel the dimen∣sions of a Tree, the colour, figure, and taste of its Fruits, as from that Prediction have discover'd all the parts of our Mediator's Office, and the excellent benefits resulting from it. The Incarnation, Cru∣cifixion, Resurrection, and Ascension of Christ are in the Types and Prophecies of the Old Testament, as Corporeal beings are in the darkness of the Night; they have a real existence, but no Eye is so clear as to enlighten the obscurity. The most sharp-sighted Seer might say, I shall see him, but not now. The Ministry of the Law is compar'd to the Light of a Candle;* that is shadowy, and confin'd to a small place. That of the Gospel is like the Sun in its strength, that enlightens the World. The Prophets who were nearer the coming of Christ had clearer Revelations, but did not bring perfect Day. As some new Stars appearing in the Firmament increase, but do not change the nature of the Light. Isaiah who is so exact in describing all the Circumstances of our Saviours Death, and his Innocence, Humility, Page  501 and Patience; that he seems to be an Evangelist ra∣ther than a Prophet, et the Ethiopian Proselyte, who certainly was a proficient in the Jewish Religion, understood not of whom the Prophet spake. We see what they were ignorant of, not that our sight is stronger, but our light is more clear. The full dis∣covery of these Mysteries was reserved as an honour to our Saviours Coming. He is the Sun of Righte∣ousness, and the Light that He hath shed abroad ex∣cels that of all the Prophets in brightness, as well as his Person transcends theirs in dignity. And how should the Evangelical Light warm our hearts with thankfulness to God for this admirable Priviledg? The dim foresight of the Messiah, two thousand years before his Coming, put Abraham in an extasie of Joy, how should the full Revelation of Him affect us? Many holy Prophets and Kings desired to see the things that we see. They embraced the Promises, we have the blessed effects; They had the Shadows, we have the Light. They only saw the veiled face of Moses, We all with open face as in a glass see the Glory of the Lord? Now what is our Duty becoming this Priviledg, But to be transform'd into the same Image from Glory to Glory, as by the Spirit of the Lord? The Life of every Christian should be a shining Re∣presentation of the Graces and Vertues of Christ that are so visible in the Gospel. Their Holiness and Heavenliness, their Hopes and Joy should as much exceed the Graces and Comforts of Believers under the Legal Dispensation, as their Knowledg is incomparably more clear and perfect.

To conclude; From the accomplishment of the ancient Prophecies in the first Coming of the Messiah, we may confirm our Faith in those glorious Promises Page  502 that are to be fulfill'd at his second. For 'tis the same Divine Goodness, the same Fidelity, the same Power still, upon which we are to build our Hopes. And the Consideration, that the Perfection of our Happiness is reserved till that time, should enflame our desires after it.

'Twas the character of Believers of the Old Testa∣ment, They waited for the consolation of Israel: 'Tis the description of the Saints in the New, they love the Appearance of Christ. If they long'd for his Coming in the Flesh, though it was attended with all the circumstances of Meanness and Dishonour, the effects of our Sins; with what ardent and impatient Desires should we hasten His Coming in Glory, when He shall appear the Second time to them that look for him,*without Sin, unto Salvation? Then He will put an end to all the disorders of the World, and be∣gin the glorious State, wherein Holiness and Righ∣teousness shall be crown'd, and reign for ever. The Christian Church joyns in that ardent Address to our Saviour;*Oh, that thou wouldst rent the Heavens and wouldst come down, that the mountains might flow down at thy Presence. As when the melting fire burneth, the Fire causeth the waters to boile: to make thy Name known to thine adversaries, that the Nations may tremble at thy Presence. Although the Beauty and Frame of this visible World shall be destroyed, yet that dreadful Day shall be joyful to the Saints: For then all the Preparations of Infinite Wisdom and Goodness; The things that Eye hath not seen,*nor Ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, shall be the ever∣lasting portion of those who love God. Come Lord Jesus.

FINIS.