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A RELIGIOUS AND LITERARY JOURNAL.
AS EVERY MAN HATA RECEIVED THE GIFT, SO MINISTER THE SAME ONE TO ANOTHER."
THURSDAY, JUNE.25, 1829.
BAPTIST MISSIONARY SOCIETY.
ANNUAL SERMON FOR THE ABOVE SOCIETY, PREACHED AT THE CITY ROAD
CHAPEL, ON WEDNESDAY, JUNE 17, 1829.
BY THE REV. W. MURCH,
" For if that which was done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth
is glorious.--2 Cor. iii. 11. A little attention to the word of God will the very notion of the existence of a God, convince us that a perfect unity pervades if he had not been pleased to interpose, the whole of the sacred volume. It con- by many striking and remarkable appeartains one grand and harmonious scheme ances, for the preservation of his name of redemption which has been gradually and worship in the world. He did, developed from the fall of man, to the however, so interpose. He did strikcoming of Jesus Christ into the world. ingly appear at different times to the The system of divine truth exhibits to Patriarchs, and, though the information man one mode of divine mercy, under communicated to them was as a light various modifications. The circumstances shining in a dark place, yet it was suffithat gave rise to these modifications, cient to enlighten their path. Enoch, evinced the propriety of each of those Noah, and others, “ walked with God," revelations ; yet has God graciously de- and worshipped him “ in spirit, and in clared, that his designs of mercy are truth.” Though under less cleardiscoveuniversal, and that at some future period ries of the divine will, than after ages, they of the world, the blessing shall be ex- embraced the same hopes, and depended tended to the whole earth, and shall upon the mercy God would exercise embrace within its circle, all nations, and through a deliverer, who, in the fulness kindreds, and tongues, and people. of time, was to appear upon earth. God Throughout the whole of the Bible there told them, and through them, all succesis a nobleness of design, that is con- sive generations, that “ the seed of the sistent with all just views of God. There woman should bruise the serpent's head.” is a harmonious and universal tendency | They were taught to believe, that the to display the glory of the divine perfec- benefit of the Redeemer's atonement tions, to inspire man with hope in the would be as extensive as man's apostacy, midst of his trials, to guide him into the and that all future nations would be alike path of true happiness, and to promote interested in God's mercy. The promise his felicity, both here and hereafter. It was afterwards made to Isaac and Jacob, has, indeed, been asserted by some that in their seed should all the nations writers, that in the early ages of the of the earth be blessed. Here it was world, mankind were only tillers of evidently declared, that at some future the ground and keepers of cattle, that period, a plan should be revealed, much they were sufficiently employed in culti- more efficacious than that with which vating the earth, and that they had no they were conversant; that an universal correct conceptions of the Divine Being. | benefit should be bestowed on the world; This, to a certain extent, we do not deny, and that a blessing should spring from yea, worse than this, we know from the one of their descendants, designed to Bible, that as mankind multiplied, their extend to all the nations of the earth. To degeneracy increased, they fell into more Jacob a similar intimation was given, excessive idolatry, and would have lost and he foretold the gathering of the Gen
tiles to the feet of Shiloh, and the be, which is designed to be permanent. departure of the sceptre from Judah. Or according to the more literal force of Notwithstanding the special privileges the passage-if that which is abolished, assigned to the posterity of the Patriarchs, is abolished by a greater glory; the gosyet neither they nor their children had pel, the dispensation which remaineth, any exclusive benefit in that Shiloh, but certainly remaineth in glory superior to the benefits of his person were to be any which the abolished dispensation marked by the impress of universality. ever possessed.
It is true, the law of Moses, at first Thus the apostle intimates that the exglance, appears less catholic than that of cellency of the gospel above the law is the patriarchs. The dispensation of the demonstrated by its superior splendour, law seems to be exclusive, Its whole and by its remaining without being sucritual was designed for a particular peo- ceeded by any subsequent dispensation. ple: but even here, the designs of God
e propose were not withheld from his people; the I. To consider the glory of the Mosaic Israelites were not left to gather the economy. truth merely in the way of intimation. II. To speak of the glory of the ChristMoses solemnly announced to them that
ian economy. they were to expect a prophet like unto We are to consider himself. In what respects was he to I. THE GLORY
THE MOSAIC resemble him? In being a sovereign, as well as a legislator. The manifestation The entire design ofthis dispensation was of this king and Saviour, together with preparatory to that of the gospel of Christ. the various offices he was to sustain, This design is comprised in two objects, to forms, with increasing clearness, the the promotion of which every part of the grand theme of most of those that suc- system was made subservient, namely, ceeded Moses in the prophetic function. to preserve among the Israelites the knowTo Moses himself God declared, “ As ledge and worship of the true God, and truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled to maintain among them the expectation with the glory of the Lord.” And the of the promised Messiah. The glory, ancient prophets delivered predictions, therefore, of this economy, and its intrinforetelling the call of the Gentiles-the sic value, must be estimated by its adapuniversal extension of evangelical bles- tation to promote these objects, and by sings—and the perpetuity of the Redeem- its success in preparing the way for the er's kingdom.
perpetuity of the gospel. Accordingly, we It is in reference to the dispensation of shall find that every thing in the dispenMoses, as compared with the superior sation of Moses had a reference to these glory of the christian economy, that St. ends, and the more we investigate the Paul employs the language of the text. whole system, keeping in view these ends, He is talking of the ministry of the gospel, together with the character of Israel and and commending it in preference to that the surrounding nations, the more shall of the law. In reference to certain ju- we see that even the most minute laws daising teachers, who disturbed the were formed with consummate wisdom, church at Corinth, he tells them, “the and enjoined for some benevolent purpose. letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life. We remark, that the glory of the MoFor if the ministration of condemnation saic dispensation appears be glory, much more doth the ministra- 1st. In the purity of the principles it intion of righteousness exceed in glory.” culcated. What was the state of the It is foreign to our present purpose to
world at the time when God appeared to dilate upon the design for which the Moses in the burning bush, and commisapostle introduced the remarkable con- sioned him to deliver his people out of text-all that we shall attempt will be Egypt? It may be stated in few words. to spiritualize the sentiments contained With the exception of that small tribe in the text itself. “For if that which that had the honour of being God's pecuis done away was glorious, much more liar people the whole world had apostathat which remaineth is glorious.” That tized from him. They substituted for is to say, if the economy which was des- the worship of God, the adoration of the tined to be annihilated was delivered with sun, moon, stars, fire, air, and all the such a striking display of grandeur, how other elements of nature. They deified much more glorious must that economy their fellow-creatures: they worshipped
stocks and stones, and idols, the most and thy right hand shall hold me: if I absurd and abominable. This defection say, Surely the darkness shall cover me ; from God was connected with every vice even the night shall be light about me: that could degrade human nature, or yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; pollute human society. The best affec- but the night shineth as the day : the tions of the heart were subdued or over- darkness and the light are both alike to thrown by the omnipotence of terror, and thee." Nor do we confine our attention the most unnatural cruelties were com- to the sublime devotion of the Hebrew mitted with a view to appease the wrath poets. We shall find principles equalof their avenging deities. Moses did not ly pure in their vocal precepts; which hesitate to charge upon the nations of the were strongly enforced both by Moses earth the most absurd and vile cruelties. and by many of his successors in the
Enquire not (says he) after their gods, legislative office. Acts, which, in the saying, How did these nations serve their refinement of moral philosophy, are gods ? even so will I do likewise. Thou termed virtuous or otherwise, as holy or shalt not do so unto the Lord thy God; unholy, righteous or sinful, as they exfor every abomination to the Lord, which posed the person either to the approbahe hateth, have they done unto their tion or the displeasure of God, are incesgods; for even their sons and their santly placed before the eyes of the daughters they have burnt in the fire to people. It was under the influence their gods.” As their idolatry led to the of this system that Elijah and Elisha, most ferocious cruelty, as it encouraged Hezekiah and David were taught to preand sanctioned the basest pollution, it was serve that pure and holy principle which the grand characteristic of the Mosaic actuated them. God himself often and dispensation that it created a knowledge signally interposed. He manifested of the supreme Jehovah, and of his perfec- himself in the most glorious and signifitions; and that it enjoined the practice cant manner. Sometimes in the fire, as of every moral duty. The prin ciples of when he appeared to Moses in the bush ; obedience to God, were presented to Israel sometimes in clouds and thunder and with numerous instances of rewards to lightning, as when he gave the ten comthe righteous, and punishments to the mandments upon the summit of Sinai ; disobedient. The whole dispensation sometimes in a chariot of fire, as to was distinguished by the purity of its Ezekiel; sometimes on a throne high and principles. Hence the lofty elevation lifted up, and surrounded by cherubim which the minds of the Hebrew poets and seraphim, as he appeared to Isaiah. and prophets attained. They were in- To preserve these principles in their spired with strains of devotion that had purity, God did not hesitate to inflict the never been equalled, and never could be most severe punishments upon the transexceeded. The gods of the heathen had gressors of his commandments. Witness their poets, and when they were most his conduct even to Moses himself, who successful, their brilliant thoughts were having by one act displeased the Lord inspired by the works of art. Not so was not permitted to enter the land, to the Hebrew poets :-they were inspired the borders of which he had conducted by the sublimity of divine truth, which the Israelites, with such indefatigable they expressed in the most devotional zeal. He who had sustained so many language-language flowing from the conflicts with the presumptuous nations dictates of their hearts: they indulged in around him, in a moment of vanity arrothe most glowing expressions, but they gated to himself a power independent of spoke and felt like men filled with match- that Being in whose name he was apless grace and unbounded goodness : for pointed to act. This conduct had a tentheir God, self is forgotten : they appear dency to withdraw the confidence of the like persons animated before the throne people from the Supreme Ruler. What of the Eternal. Hear David sing, was the consequence? “ And the Lord “Whither shall I go from thy Spirit? or spake unto Moses and Aaron, Because ye whither shall I fee from thy presence ? believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes If I ascend up to heaven, thou art there : of the children of Israel; therefore ye if I make my bed in hell, behold thou art shall not bring the congregation into the there: if I take the wings of the morning, land which I havegiven them.” With such and dwell in the uttermost parts of the strictness does God enforce the high prinsea, even there shall thy hand lead me, ciple that he had himself communicated.
2 A 2
bear, and see him constrained, by a sense 2ndly. In the typical significancy of the of guilt, to go and use the expiatory rites and ceremonies which it appointed.- means.—He offers the blood of the aniWhat, my friends, is a type ? A type has mal-he is presenting to God that which been defined, “ a rough draft, a pattern God commanded to be slain on the altar or model, from which a more perfect for sin-He knows there is no proportion image is made.” The typical events re- ween the means employed, and the corded in the Old Testament, are recog. end to be obtained-he sees the appointnized in the New. Through Christ, the ment clearly; and with equal clearness, he shadow is well understood by the sub- sees there is no internal efficacy in what stance, and a type is now a significant he has thus offered, either to make an evidence. But was it so to the ancient atonement for his guilt, or to remove the Israelites ? In answer to this enquiry, burden of guilt from his mind. But he some persons have said, “No: it was im- sees the significancy of the emblem. possible that the types could be under- Having slain the animal, after confessing stood, because there was no discovery of upon it his sin, the mind of the offerer is their principle given by Moses.” Hence deeply impressed with the conviction, that these persons content themselves with re- death was the consequence of sin—that presenting the striking regulations, and the life of the offender was forfeited by splendid ordinances of the Mosaic law, sin of which the action was a solemn acsimply in the light of a cautionary means knowledgment; but at the same time it to preserve the Hebrews, as a distinct
was expressive of belief, that God would people, from the surrounding nations ;-as graciously accept the substitution. Thus means having in themselves a benevolent the mind of the worshipper was natutendency to prevent idolatrous practices. rally led to the grand deliverer which That this representation so far as it goes, God had promised-in short to Him, of may be considered as correct, we will whom it was foretold, that “He was not dispute ; but it is not the whole truth. wounded for our transgressions, he was Others have gone to the opposite extreme. bruised for our iniquities : the chastiseThey have used language får removed ment of our peace was upon him, and with from sobriety. They have talked of the his stripes we are healed.” It appears gospel of Deuteronomy, the gospel of 3dly. In the illustrious support that it Leviticus. The apostle Paul intimates received from the attestation of miracles, the true meaning of ancient rites and ce- and the instrumentality of prophets.—Everemonies, when he tells us, “ The law ry one knows what is meant by a miracle. was a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ," In the office committed to Moses, the neand not the substance, but “ the shadow cessity of superior aid was most obvious, of good things to come.” “Now all and it was most abundantly afforded to these things (says St. Paul, in allusion him. In every step he took, he was to the ancient Israelites) happened unto under the immediate direction of Jethem for ensamples, and they are written, hovah. You will observe in the lanfor our admonition.” It is Christ who
guage used by Moses, throughout the holds the keys of the types, and fully un- whole of his history that every act is folds all their beauty and significancy; ascribed to heaven. As he was commiswhile at the same time the devout Israel- sioned to fill the high office of leading ite, in proportion to the strength of his the people of Israel out of Egypt, he was faith, ingenuousnes, and piety, could see empowered to work the most astonishing through them, and more or less under- miracles. He inflicted the ten plagues stand the signification of his own sacri- upon the Egyptians, and it was not till ficial and ritual worship. It is true the then, that the obdurate heart of Pharaoh law made nothing perfect, as being intro- was subdued. Then the Israelites were ductory to a better hope ; but then it is desired to leave the land, and the Egypequally true, that the Israelite substan. tians were as anxious to dismiss them, as tially enjoyed the better thing. He ob- Pharaoh had been to detain them. The tained by daily communion with God, by mighty monarch was so humbled, and his the illumination of prophecy, by those people also, that they hastened the Isrites and ceremonies which were types raelites' departure. The Israelites were and shadows, “ of good things to come.” now so honoured, that they demanded See the pious Jew, subject to a condition silver, and jewels, and gold, as a remuwhich neither he nor his fathers could neration due to their past unrequited
labours. They demanded it as the ho- | Many of their predictions are recorded, mage due to their present acknowledged and they relate the various events consuperiority, and as the purchase of their cerning the Jews' time-concerning the immediate departure. The Egyptians Gentiles' time—and especially concerning granted it.
The Israelites commen- the Messiah. They recorded a series of ced their journey. Six hundred thousand prophecies concerning Christ, which were men on foot, besides women and chil- carried on through many hundreds of dren, probably amounting to three mil- years, and which gradually became more lions, went out, as well as their flocks, clear, as the time for their accomplishtheir herds, and much cattle. They ment approached. These prophecies most were to cross an arm of the Red Sea, obviously foretold the Saviour's office without being accompanied by a vessel the place and manner of his birth-the of any kind, or any natural means for principal circumstances of his life, burial, making their passage across it. But God and resurrection, and the effusion of interposed. He guided and protected them the Holy Spirit. They recorded the by a pillar of cloud by day, and a pillar religion of the Messiah--the restoration of fire by night. They passed safely of God's ancient people-and, finally, the through the Red Sea, while Pharaoh and glory of the latter days of the church. his host, attempting to make the same And, to these predictions the apostles passage, were overwhelmed and destroyed constantly alluded in their discourses to by the returning waters. God fed his the Jews, as furnishing undoubted proofs people with bread forty years in the wil- of the truth of the Christian doctrine. To derness, and caused water to flow out of the impartial consideration of the Jew, the rock. At length they reached the the evidence arising from the fulfilment promised land. Did the miracles then of prophecy, must have an overwhelming cease? There God still watched over force. We can easily believe that the his chosen people. To carry on the ob- learning and ingenuity of an infidel may jects of his design, to communicate a form arguments against detached predicknowledge of himself, and increase the tions, or the particular application of expectations of Israel, God raised up holy
but it would be difficult to shew, men, and seers, and prophets, who had dif- that a connected chain of prophecy, deliferent offices assigned them, and were en- vered by many different persons, demongaged in performing different parts of the strating one beneficent administration of divine commission. These men were the providence, and fully accomplished, in leaven that was to be diffused over the one character, could be the contrivance whole mass. They were the salt, to pre- of a wicked man, or the fraud of a pious serve the Israelites from corruption. They possessed various degrees of divine Such was THE GLORY OF THE MOSAIC illumination. They were authorized to
But this dispensation warn, to counsel, to punish, to encourage, has passed away, having accomplished and to reward, as the exigencies of the the purposes for which it was designed, case might require. Some of these pro- and the Messiah having made his appearphets were able to penetiate deeply into ance in the world, and having died on the futurity. They borrowed imagery from cross to put away sin by the sacrifice of every part of nature from every custom himself, the Jewish dispensation was abwith which the people were most familiar. rogated, and, says the apostle, “ If that Sometimes they spoke in the language of which was done away was glorious, much indignation, and at other times in the more that which remaineth is glorious.” language of sarcasm they poured con- We are, then, to point out some of the tempt on the folly of idolatry. At other distinguishing excellencies of the gospel. times, to inspire the people with awe, And they represented the Creator in the splen- II. TO SPEAK OF THE GLORY OF THE dours of his power, and his insuperable CHRISTIAN ECONOMY, majesty. Sometimes, to win upon the We remark, that the superiority of the intelligent feelings of the heart, they ex- gospel to the former glorious dispensapostulated as though they were seeking a
tion appears, favour on behalf of the great Jehovah. 1st. In the clearness of the revelation At other times they delighted to expatiate given by it concerning those truths which on the triumphs of the Messiah's reign, are the most important to man's salvation. and the future glories of his church. We have seen that the ancient economy