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among these divine transactions, as will elevate our souls into higher raptures of gratitude and joy, and furnish our tongues with pleasant and everlasting hallelujahs.
The saints in that day shall chearfully and thankfully recount the awful voice of God in the commands and terrors of his law, since these are the blessed means of awakening their stupid consciences, and of stirring them to a hasty flight to Jesus and his gospel, as the only and all-sufficient refuge of sinful and guilty souls. Happy creatures! who turned their eyes to his grace, when they were thus self-condemned, and trembling for fear of the immediate execution of the divine threatenings of his law. How glorious and delightful will be the moments of these souls, when they shall review the first glimpses they had by divine grace, of the salvation and hope which was to be found for them, in the encouraging language of the gospel and the promises! What new songs will arise to the Redeemer, in this review of those past events! What echoes of praise to him that sitteth upon the throne, and to the Lamb, while the inhabitants of the blessed world are pursuing, and tracing out backward, the ancient steps of the grace of God, towards their recovery from the sin and ruin of the first Adam, and their entering into the covenant of salvation, through Jesus Christ, the second? He was the ever-blessed anti-type of the first Adam, the great Head and Lord of life and everlasting blessedness, to all who are sanctified and saved. Honour and glory, and power, be to his holy name, for ever and ever. Amen.
The early Appointment of the Atonement of Christ manifested.
Rev. xviii. 8.-The Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
THE FIRST PART.
IN order to make the sense of these words easy and plain, we
must take into our counsel three other texts of the New Testament: viz. I. 1 Pet. i. 18-20. "Ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold,—but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a Lamb, without blemish, and without spot.” Ver. 20. "Who verily was fore-ordained before the foundation of the world, but was mauifested in these last times for you." This shews us, that this Lamb was Jesus Christ, who was offered a sacrifice for the sins of the world, and thereby takes them away; John i. 20. II. Acts xv. 18. "Known unto God are all his works, from the beginning of the world." And therefore this great work, of redeeming sinners by the death of his Son Jesus, as 1 Pet. i. 20. was also known to him. III. Rom. iv. 17. "God quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not, as though they were:" i. e. speaketh sometimes of things not yet done, as though they were done; therefore this Lamb is said to be slain from the foundation of the world, because it was by virtue of his death many other things were appointed.
God hath, before the foundation of the world, ordained all things that regard the salvation and recovery of man, from the ruins of his fall. Sometimes the holy scripture speaks of those things, which were originally designed and decreed, as though they were actually done, though perhaps it was many ages afterwards, before these things had any actual being. It is in this sense that our Lord Jesus Christ is said to be" the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world ;" i. e. he was decreed and determined to be the Saviour of mankind; and for this end he was appointed to be a sacrifice of atonement of our sins, even "bcfore God laid the foundation of the world;" Eph. i. 4, 5. He appeared as the Lamb slain for this purpose, and with this design, in the eye of God, who sees all things in one single view,
*Sermons preached at Berry-street, December 1744, and 1745.
whether they be things past, present, or to come. God the Father kept Jesus Christ his Son ever in his eye, in this view, through all his transactions with the children of men.
It is generally supposed that Adam stood in the state of innocence but a few days at most, or a very short time after his creation, though our Lord Jesus Christ came not into this world, nor took flesh and blood upon him, of the substance of the virgin Mary, till about four thousand years afterwards. Many ages ran out amongst the inhabitants of this world in that time, and even some of the transactions of God in his own eternity, before the foundation of the world, are reasonably supposed to be derived from this very idea, in the mind and appointment of the blessed God; because he had originally appointed, that Jesus Christ should in due time take flesh and blood, and be offered as a sacrifice for the sins of men.
Here we shall first enquire, what are those early transactions of the blessed God in eternity, or in time, which may be supposed to have been any way influenced by this view of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the answers are these :—
1. It was in this view that God at first decreed and designed to save and recover any part of fallen man from their ruin, sin, and misery; and chose thousands of the race of sinful mankind to be restored to his favour and to his image: Eph. i. 4, 5, 7. "Behold my servant whom I uphold: mine elect in whom my soul delighteth;" Is. xlii. 1. That so God might have a proper atonement made for all their sins, by our Lord Jesus Christ, in order to be reconciled to them, and to reconcile them to himself that they might be holy and without blame.
It would be too long at present to enter into this enquiry, why God required an atonement for sin, or why his justice and his grace would not unite in the salvation of fallen man without it : The great God thought it unbecoming his supreme majesty, and his character, to deal thus in a way of absolute mercy with men ; and as he has determined it so in his word, this is enough for us to acquiesce therein: As Heb. ii. 10. "It became him for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the Captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings." Two, i. e. as critics in the Greek language expound it, to consecrate, sanctify, or finish this Captain of salvation for this service, by an atoning sa
God was pleased to make his beloved Son, Jesus Christ, his first elect; Is. xlii. 1. and he chose all the rest in him; Eph. i. 4." According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love." He was resolved to set him up at the head of all the saved number, who was his own Son, that he should
be the forerunner into heaven, and have the honour of redeeming all the sons of God, and bringing them back unto the Father: and he decreed him to be the great sacrifice, for the expiation of the sins of all his chosen and favourite sons: He has redeemed them all with his blood.
2. It was in the view of Jesus Christ, as the great Mediator and sacrifice, that God appointed any further communion, or any favourable communications, between himself and his fallen creature man. It was in this view that he appointed there should be any approach of fallen man towards himself: It was in this view he gave him the first promise, and the first hope of mercy, even that "the seed of the woman should bruise the head of the serpent;" Gen. ii. 15. by whom mankind was deceived to their ruin and destruction; and by appointing Jesus Christ to be a sacrifice for sin: It was prophesied that his heel, or the lower part of his nature, i. e. his body, should be bruised in order to break the head of the serpent; as it is explained; 1 John iii. 8. "For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil;" i, e. his tyranny and dominion over man. This seed of the woman was the appointed sacrifice for this purpose; Gen. iii. 15. It was with this view that God enquired after lost man in the garden of paradise, in order to recover and save him by his Son Jesus; Gen. iii. 9. "Adam, where art thou?" And he gave him the promise of recovery by this means. And as God afterwards appointed it, that " no man should come to the Father but by the Son;" John xiv. 6. so he revealed himself as making his way towards fallen Adam, by this man Jesus; and it is by him that all that are brought back again to God have been appointed to draw near to him ever since; for he is the only appointed way.
It is also very probable that God might make clearer discoveries to our first parents, in the midst of their ruined and dismal state, in and with the first promise, than Moses, the divine historian, has given us an account of, because this was to be the beginning and first pledge of their hope of any acceptance with God, and their expectation of life and salvation. Let me here speak one awakening word to fallen sinners: Did you never give yourselves leave to think how great your guilt and destruction is, and how terrible your misery and danger: and do you never consider that it was in and by Jesus Christ, as the appointed sacrifice for our sins, that God made his first steps toward you in a way of restoration and recovery? This should not be utterly neglec ted and forgotten by sinners. See how early was the love of God to fallen man.
3. It was in this view of Jesus Christ, as a propitiatory sacrifice, that God instituted sacrifices to be offered up by Adam, immediately after his fall, as it is recorded by Moses. God for
bid that ever we should imagine, that the great God left this important affair of offering sacrifices to reconcile and appease an angry God, to the mere invention of vain and foolish man: And how can we suppose that it should enter into the heart of man, that God should be pleased with such sacrifices as the cutting and burning of his living creatures in the fire, in order to please him after their first sin? It is very evident that God appointed the skins of beasts to be their first covering, but these very beasts were not then appointed by God the Creator to be slain for the food of man, till the days of Noah: and therefore, it must be out of the beasts slain for sacrifice, that the Lord God made coats of skins, and clothed Adam, and his wife Eve. And it is highly probable that their clothing was made out of the skins of the beasts that were sacrificed, to guard them from the cold winds, and storm, and from any of the inconveniences of the air and sky that might befal them, for want of such covering; Gen. iii. 31. And unto Adam and his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them.
It is further evident, that these sacrifices were not merely sacrifices of thanksgiving and acknowledgment to God for his mercies, as men are too often ready to suppose. When Cain brought to God the first fruits of the ground; Gen. iv. 3. if it was done merely as an offering of thankfulness, it is manifest that Abel also, Gen. v. 4. brought the firstlings of his flock, and the fat thereof; and it is very plain that Abel found acceptance with God, but Cain did not; ver. 5. And as it is repeated; Heb. xi. 4. By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain. And probably this was the difference, because, by the sacrifice and death of the living creatures, there was an acknowledgment made of sin, and of sinful man's desert of death, by some intimation from heaven: and this was accepted of God as an atonement or substitute, in the room of the sinner, or a typical propitiation for sin. This seems to be implied in that question of Balak to Balaam; Micah vi. 6, 7. Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the High God? Shall I come before him with burnt-offerings, with calves of a year old? "Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, &c. Or shall I give my first born for my transgression, the fruit of my bedy for the sin of my soul? It is very natural for man, under a sense of the guilt of sin, to enquire, how he shall appear before a holy God with acceptance? And God, as it were in answer to such a supposed enquiry, directs Adam to the sacrifice of beasts, as an atonement for sin; i. e. as a sort of ransom for the forfeited life of man. And this is the most natural and most easy sense of things, and the best account of the original of sacrifices, and of the prevalence and continuance of that custom almost all over the world: And this is the fairest account of the original tradition