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messengers of God (as unbelievers never fail to do) shall be involved in all the horror and confusion of a falling world while they that have made their peace like Rahab, shall be sought out and delivered. God shall send his angels, to gather together his elect; who have made a covenant with him, through the sacrifice of Christ; and can produce the scarlet token of his blood, which marks them for the redeemed of the Lord and they shall be advanced to a place in the kingdom of God, as Rahab was joined to Israel, and her name now stands, as that of a mother in Israel, in the line of those from whom the Saviour of the world descended. *
I have presented to your minds an history, the sense of which is so important to a Christian, that you cannot remember and apply it too often. When you are alone, think that you have before your eyes that proud city of unbelievers, filled with the enemies of God: think that you hear the noise of its downfall, added to the shrieks and exclamations of those that are found within it; and that you see a cloud of dust rising up into the air!
Such will be the ruin of this world; and such will be the terror of those, on whom destruction (unavoidable destruction) cometh. You did not see and hear the fall of Jericho if you had, you would never have forgotten it: but the other judgment upon the world, the fulfilling of it, the substance of which that was but a shadow; you shall see that sight you cannot escape: therefore prepare for it in time: take part with God and his truth, while you may even at the hazard of your life-while the day of salvation lasts: when the city shall fall, you will then have nothing to fear.
*See St. Matthew, i. 7.
You will indeed see yourself surrounded with destruction-with the destruction of many whom it would have rejoiced you to have saved: but it shall not touch you ye shall be as a firebrand plucked out of the burning-angels shall be sent to take you out of the overthrow ye will be saved as Rahab was; and by faith, will not perish with them that believe not.
THEN SAID JESUS UNTO HIM, GO AND DO THOU LIKEWISE. LUKE X. 37,
THE parable, of which these words are the principal part, is proposed as an inducement to the exercise of mercy toward all mankind: the charitable act of this good Samaritan is described with all its circumstances, and then the practical inference is addedgo and do thou likewise. The man must have a hard heart and a mean understanding, who is insensible to the beauty of this story: it being a striking instance of that simplicity of expression, and propriety of descriptin, for both of which the Gospel is so superior to all other writings. But the story hath certainly a more deep design, than such a narrative might be supposed to have, if it had occurred in some other book: and this I think must be evident upon the following consideration. The precept-go and do thou likewise, is of general obligation. What our Saviour here said to the Jews, he said to all his disciples and followers to the end of the world. And if they are all bound to the practice of this precept, it is but natural to think, that they should all be interested in the circumstances
of that narrative, on which the precept is grounded. It is the general design of the parables of Christ, to set before us the great and interesting principles of the Gospel, under the form of something familiar to the understanding therefore our blessed Saviour never relates any thing of this kind, but with some superior allusion: and if we take this story as a parable, representing to us under other terms that merciful act of redemption in which we are all equally concerned, then there will be no difficulty in making the example and the precept consistent with each other. I may add likewise, that in this Christian acceptation of the parable, we shall agree with all the best expositors of the Church, from the apostolic age to the present which consideration will have its weight with all those, who are not poisoned with the pretended improvements of modern times. It is the general intention of the Gospel, and of all its principles and doctrines in particular, to improve our understandings in the way of godliness, and encourage our endeavours to the practice of holiness. This passage of the Scrip ture, when truly interpreted, will, like the rest, be found capable of answering both these purposes: with which persuasion, I shall now propose to your consideration the several particulars.
A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.
If we suppose the man here spoken of to be Adam, departing first from innocence to sin, and next from paradise into the world; all the circumstances of the parable will fall naturally into this interpretation, and we shall soon be satisfied that the design of it is not misunderstood. The journey from Jerusalem to Je
richo is plainly that from paradise into the world. In the book of Revelation, the names of "Jerusalem' and "Paradise" are applied indifferently to the same thing. The tree of life is spoken of as growing in the midst of the paradise of God: but in another place, the same tree of life is said to grow in the midst of the street of the new Jerusalem. Something of the like kind occurs in St. Paul; who tells us he was caught up to the third heaven, which he calls paradise: yet elsewhere, with allusion to the same paradise, he speaks of a Jerusalem that is above, which is the mother of us all to which character, in a proper sense, the earthly paradise also had a title, in as much as all mankind are descended from it. And if it be true, that we all died in Adam, it will follow, that in him we all were once inhabitants of paradise; and the sin which drove Adam from that happy place, drove out his posterity with him. So long as Adam preserved his innocence, he was secure in his possession of paradise, and had a right of inheritance in the Jerusalem that is above; that heavenly original, of which the garden planted upon earth was but an earnest and a pattern. But when he disobeyed the divine command, he lost the present enjoyment of the inferior paradise, and at the same time forfeited his reversionary title to the superior. His departure therefore is very properly described as a going down from Jerusalem: the fall of man, as the term necessarily signifies, being in every acceptation of it a descent from an higher to a lower state. Nor is the place to which he descended less expressive than that of Jerusalem for when Adam was expelled from Eden, he was removed into the world, of which the city Jericho was emblematical in several respects*. It was accursed to the Lord for the
See this idea enlarged on in the preceding discourse.