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the evil one had prevailed upon man, by a woman also he should come into the world, who would prevail against him, and bruise his head, and deliver man from his power: and which, in a signal manner, by the dispensation of the son of God in the flesh, in the fulness of time, was personally and fully accomplished by him, and in him, as man's saviour and redeemer.
But his power was not limited, in the manifestation of it, to that time; for both before and since his blessed manifestation in the flesh, he has been the light and life, the rock and strength of all that ever feared God: present with them in their temptations, followed them in their travels and afflictions, and supported and carried them through and over the difficulties that have attended them in their earthly pilgrimage. By this, Abel's heart excelled Cain's, and Seth obtained the pre-eminence, and Enoch walked with God. It was this that strove with the old world, and which they rebelled against, and which sanctified and instructed Noah to salvation.
But the outward dispensation that followed the benighted state of man, after his fall, especially among the patriarchs, was generally that of angels; as the scriptures of the Old Testament do in many places express, as, to Abraham, Jacob, &c. The next was that of the law by Moses, which was also delivered by angels, as the apostle tells us. This dispensation was much outward, and suited to a low and servile state; called therefore, by the apostle Paul, that of a schoolmaster, to point out and prepare that people to look and long for the Messiah, who would deliver them from the servitude of a ceremonious and imperfect dispensation, by knowing the realities of those mysterious representations in themselves. In this time the law was written on stone, the temple built with hands, attended with an outward priesthood, and external rites and ceremonies, that were shadows of the good things that were to come, and were only to serve till the seed came, or the more excellent and general manifestation of Christ, to whom was the promise, and to all men only in him, in whom it was yea and amen; even life from death, immortality and eternal life.
This the prophets foresaw, and comforted the believing Jews in the certainty of it; which was the top of the Mosaical dispensation, and which ended in John's ministry, the forerunner of the Messiah, as John's was finished in him, the fulness of all. And then God, that at sundry times, and in divers manners, had spoken to the fathers by his servants the prophets, spoke to men by his son Christ Jesus, “who is heir of all things;' being the gospel day, which is the dispensation of sonship: bringing in thereby a nearer testament, and a better hope, even the beginning of the glory of the latter days, and of the restitution of all things; yea, the restoration of the kingdom unto Israel.
Now the spirit, that was more sparingly communicated in former dispensations, began to be “poured forth upon all flesh,' according to the prophet Joel, and the light that shined in darkness, or but dimly before, the most gracious God caused to shine out of darkness, and the day star began to arise in the hearts of believers, giving unto them the knowledge of God in the face (or appearance) of his son Christ Jesus.
Now the poor in spirit, the meek, the true mourners, the hungry and thirsty after righteousness, the peace makers, the pure in heart, the merciful, and the persecuted, came more especially in remembrance before the Lord, and were sought out and blessed by Israel's true shepherd. Old Jerusalem with her children grew out of date, and the new Jerusalem into request, the mother of the sons of the gospel day. Wherefore, no more at old Jerusalem, nor at the mountain of Samaria, will God be worshipped above other places; for, behold, he is, by his own son, declared and preached a spirit, and he will be known as such, and worshipped in the spirit and in the truth. He will come nearer than of old time, and he will write his law in the heart, and put his fear and spirit in the inward parts, according to his promise. Then signs, types, and shadows flew away, the day having discovered their insufficiency, in not reaching to the inside of the cup, to the cleansing of the conscience; and all elementary services were expired in and by him that is the substance of all.
And to this great and blessed end of the dispensation of the son of God, did the apostles testify, whom he had chosen and anointed by his spirit, to turn the Jews from their prejudice and superstition, and the Gentiles from their vanity and idolatry, to Christ's light and spirit that shined in them; that they might be quickened from the sins and trespasses in which they were dead, to serve the living God in the newness of the spirit of life, and walk as children of the light, and of the day, even the day of holiness: for such put on Christ, the light of the world, and make no more provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.". So that the light, spirit, and grace that come by Christ, and appear in man, were that divine principle the apostles ministered from, and turned people's minds unto, and in which they gathered and built up the churches of Christ in their day. For which cause they advised them not to quench the spirit, but wait for the spirit, and speak by the spirit, and pray by the spirit, and walk in the spirit too, as that which approved them the truly begotten children of God, .born not of flesh and blood, nor of the will of man, but of the will of God; by doing bis will, and denying their own; by drinking of Christ's cup, and being baptized with his baptism of self-denial: the way and path that all the heirs of life have ever trod to blessedness. But alas! even in the apostles' days,