« ElőzőTovább »
life of Enoch, who, we have reason to think, was a saint of greater eminency than any that had been before him; so that in this respect the work of redemption was carried on to a still greater height. With respect to its effect in the visible church in general, we observed above how it was carried higher in the days of Enos than ever it had been before. Probably Enoch was one of the saints of that harvest; for he lived all the days that he did live on earth, in the days of Enos. And with respect to the degree to which this work was carried in the soul of a particular person, it was raised to a greater height in Enoch than ever before. His soul, built on Christ, was built up in holiness to a greater height than any preceding instance, He was a wonderful instance of Christ's redemption, and of the efficacy of his grace.
VII. In Enoch's time, God more expressly revealed the coming of Christ than he had before done. Jude, ver. 14, 15. “And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousand of his saints to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them, of their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him." Here Enoch prophesies of the coming of Christ. It does not seem to be confined to any particular coming of Christ ; but it has respect in general to Christ's coming in his kingdom, and is fulfilled in a degree in both his first and second coming; and indeed in every remarkable manifestation Christ has made of himself in the world, for the saving of his people, and the destroying of his enemies. It is very parallel in this respect with many other prophecies of the Old Testament; and, in particular, with that great prophecy of Christ's coming in his kingdom, whence the Jews principally took their notion of the kingdom of heaven, Daniel vii. 10. " A fiery stream issued, and came forth from before him : thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him : the judgment was set, and the books were opened.” And ver. 13, 14. saw in the night visions, and behold, one like the son of man, came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.” And though it is not unlikely that Enoch might have a more immediate respect in this prophecy, to the approaching destruction of the old world by the food, which was a remarkable resemblance of Christ's destruction of all his enemies at his second coming, yet it doubtless looked beyond the type to the antitype. VOL, IIL
And as this prophecy of Christ's coming is more express than any preceding it; so it is an instance of the increase of that gospel light which began to dawn presently after the fall of man; and of that building which is the subject of our present discourse, being yet further carried on, and built up higher than it had been before.
And here, by the way, I would observe, that the increase of gospel light, and the progress of the work of redemption, as it respects the church in general, from its erection to the end of the world, is very similar to the progress of the same work, and the same light, in a particular soul, from the time of its conversion, till it is perfected and crowned in glory. Sometimes the light shines brighter, and at other times more obscurely ; sometimes grace prevails, at other times it seems to languish for a great while together ; now corruption prevails, and then grace revives again. But in general grace is growing : from its first infusion, till it is perfected in glory, the kingdom of Christ is building up in the soul. So it is with respect to the great affair in general, as it relates to the universal subject of it, and as it is carried on from its first beginning, till it is perfected at the end of the world.
VIII. The next remarkable thing towards carrying on this work, was the translation of Enoch into heaven. (Gen. v. 24.) 66 And Enoch walked with God, and he was not; for God took him." Moses, in giving an account of the genealogy of those that were of the line of Noah, does not say concerning Enoch, he lived so long and he died, as he docs of the rest : but," he was not, for God took him;" i. e. he translated him ; in body and soul carried him to heaven without dying, as it is explained in Heb. xi. 5. · By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death.” By this wonderful work of God, the work of redemption was carried to a greater height, in several respects, than it had been before.
When showing what God aimed at in the work of redemption, or what were the main things he intended to bring to pass; among other things I mentioned the perfect restoration of the ruins of the fall, with respect to the elect, both in soul and body. Now this translation of Enoch was the first instance of restoration with respect to the body. There had been many instances of restoring the soul of man by Christ's redemption, but none of redeeming and actually saving the body, till now. All the bodies of the elect are to be saved as well as their souls. At the end of the world, all their bodies shall actually be redeemed; those that then shall have been dead, by a resurrection; and others, that then shall be living, by causing them to undergo a glorious change. There was a number of the bodies of saints raised and glorified, at the resurrection of Christ; and before that there was an instance of a
body glorified in Elijah. But the first instance of all was this of Enoch.
By this the work of redemption was carried on still further; as, this wonderful work of God afforded a great increase of gospel light to the church, hereby it had a clearer manifestation of a future state, and of the glorious reward of the saints in heaven. We are told, 2 Tim. i. 10. “That life and immortality are brought to light by the gospel.” What was said in the Old Testament of a future state, is very obscure, in comparison with the more full, plain, and abundant revelation given of it in the New. But yet even in those early days, the church of God, in this instance, was favoured with an instance of it set before their eyes, in that one of their brethren was actually taken up to heaven without dying; which we have all reason to think the church of God knew then, as they afterwards knew Elijah's translation. And as this was a clearer manifestation of a future state than the church had enjoyed before, so it was a pledge or earnest of that future glorification of all the saints which God intended through the redemption of Jesus Christ.
IX. The next thing that I shall observe, was the upholding of the church of God in that family from which Christ was to proceed during that great and general defection which preceded the flood. The church of God, in all probability, was small, in comparison with the rest of the world, from the time that mankind began to multiply; or from the time, (Gen. iv. 16.) “when Cain went out from the presence of the Lord, and dwelt in the land of Nod;" which, being interpreted, is the land of banishment. The church seems to have been kept up chiefly in the posterity of Seth; for this was the seed that God appointed instead of Abel, whom Cain slew. But we cannot reasonably suppose that Seth's posterity were one fiftieth part of the world: For Adam was one hundred and thirty years old when Seth was born. But Cain, who seems to have been the leader of those that were not of the church, was Adam's eldest child, and probably was born soon after the fall, which doubtless was soon after Adam's creation ; so that there was time for Cain to have many sons before Seth was born; besides many other children that probably Adam and Eve had before this time, agreeably to God's blessing, Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth; and many of these children might have children. The history of Cain before Seth was born, seems to imply, that there were great numbers of men on the earth : Gen. iv. 14, 15. “Behold, thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the earth : and from thy face shall I be hid, and I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth : and it shall come to pass, that · every one that findeth me shall slay me. And the Lord said
unto him, Therefore whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him seven-fold. And the Lord set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him.” And all who existed when Seth was born, must be supposed to stand in equal capacity of multiplying their posterity with him; and therefore, Seth's posterity were but a small part of the inhabitants of the world.
But after the days of Enos and Enoch, (for Enoch was translated before Enos died) the church of God greatly diminished, in proportion as multitudes of the line of Seth, born in the church of God, fell away, and joined with the wicked world, principally by means of intermarriages with them; as Gen, vi. 1, 2, 4. “ And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were fair ; and they took them wives of all which they chose.—There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daugh. ters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men, which were of old men of renown.” By the sons of God here are doubtless meant the children of the church. It is a denomination often given them in scripture. They intermarried with the wicked world, and so had their hearts led away from God; and there was a great and continual defection from the church. The church, that used to be a restraint on the wicked world, diminished exceedingly, and so wickedness went on without restraint. Satan, that old serpent the devil, that tempted our first parents, and set up himself as the God of this world, raged exceedingly; and every imagination of the thoughts of man's heart was only evil continually, and the earth was filled with violence. It seemed to be deluged with wickedness then, as it was with water afterwards: and mankind in general were swallowed up in it. And now Satan made a most violent and potent attempt to devour the church of God; and had almost done it. But yet God restored it in the midst of all this flood of wickedness and violence.
He kept it up in that line of which Christ was to proceed. He would not suffer it to be destroyed, for a blessing was in it. There was a particular family, a root whence the branch of righteous. ness was afterwards to shoot forth. And therefore however the branches were lopped off, and the tree seemed to be destroyed, yet God in the midst of all, kept alive this root, by his wonderful redeeming power and grace, so that the gates of hell could not prevail against it.
Thus I have shown how God carried on the great affair of redemption ; how the building went on during this first period, from the fall of man, till God brought the flood on the earth. And I would observe, that though the Mosaic history
189 during that space be very short; yet it is exceedingly compre- . hensive and instructive. And it may also be profitable for us here to observe, the efficacy of that purchase of redemption which had such great effects so many ages before Christ actually appeared.
From the flood to the Calling of Abraham. I proceed now to show how the same work was carried on from the beginning of the flood till the calling of Abraham. For though that mighty universal deluge overthrew the world ; yet it did not overthrow this building of God, the work of redemption. This went on; and instead of being overthrown, continued to be built up, in order to a further preparation for the great Saviour's coming into the world, for the redemption of his people.
1. The flood itself was a work of God that belonged to this great affair, and tended to promote it. All the mighty works of God, from the fall of man to the end of the world, are deducible to this work; and if scen in a right view, will appear as parts of it, and so many steps for carrying it on; and doubtless so great a work, so remarkable and universal a catastrophe, as the deluge was, cannot be excepted. Thereby God removed out of the way the enemies and obstacles that were ready to overthrow it.
Satan seems to have been in a dreadful rage just before the flood, and his rage then doubtless was, as it always has been, chiefly against the church of God to overthrow it; and he had filled the earth with violence and rage against it. He had drawn over almost all the world to be on his side, and they listed under his banner against Christ and his church. We read, that the earth was filled with violence; and doubtless that violence was chiefly against the church, in fulfilment of what was foretold, I will put enmity between thy seed and her seed. Their enmity and violence was so great, and the enemies of the church so numerous, the whole world being against it, that it was come to the last extremity. Noah's reproofs, and his preaching of righteousness, were utterly disregarded. God's spirit had striven with them an hundred and twenty years, but all in vain ; and the church was reduced to so narrow limits, as to be confined to one family. There was no prospect of any thing else but of their totally swallowing up the church, and