Page images
PDF
EPUB

ift, As the Rock yielded no Water before it was smitten with the Rod of Moses, so was Christ smitten upon the Cross, and his Side pierc'd mith a Spear, before there issued from him that sovereign Stream of Water and Blood, of which he who drinketh Mall never thirst more. Again,

2dly, As this Rock yielded Water not only at the Place where it was broach'd, but follow'd the Israelites in all their Stations in the Wilderness; so that Water which gulh'd from our Saviour's Side, ferv'd not only those that were present at his Sufferings, but hath follow'd Chrif tians from the Day of his Passion to this Hour.

But how are the Israelites said to eat the same spiritual Meat, and to drink the same spiritual Drink with us? Why, 'tis the fame, tho not in Sign, yet in Substance and Signification unto both : for they are Seals of the fame Covenant, they represent the fame Sacraments, and convey the same Promises, Blessings, and Graces to both.

So far the Apostle sets forth the many and great Privileges, which the People of the feros enjoy’d in common with us. They had the fame Sacraments, tho represented by different Signs and Symbols ; by their

Manna in the Wilderness, and the Paschal Lamb in the Passover : They did eat the same spiritual Meat with us, and by the Water Mowing out of the Rock, they drank the same spiritual Drink with us in the Holy Communion. And by both they had the same Graces and Favours vouchfaf'd to them, tho couch'd and shadow'd out to them in temporal Blessings and Promises. And this is what the Apostle would have us know, or not be ignorant of, left we should think toa highly of our selves, or too meanly of them.

But how did these Ifraelites use these signal Favours and Blessings ? And what follow'd thereupon ? Why, that the next words tell us: With many of them God was not wello pleas’d; for they were overthrown in the Wilderness. By which it appears, that many of them made a very bad Use of those great Blessings, and abus'd the Mercies of God to very evil Purposes; as we shall fee after. The fad Condition of those Persons is here set forth by two Expressions :

(1.) That God was not well-pleas'd with them. And, (2.) That they were overthrown in the Wilderness. Both which shew us the wretched and lost Condition of all unworthy Receivers of these Holy Mysteries.

(1) The Misery of their Condition is here set forth by God's not being well-pleas'd with them; which Phrasé

implies

implies more than it seenis to express: for it signifies not only God's not being well pleas'd, but his being highly displeas’d with them, that he was much incens'd, and that his Wrath was hot against them. Indeed it is the greatest Degree and Measure of Unhappiness, to be out of the Favour of God, and to be one of those, with whom God is not well pleas'd; for then nothing we say or do is acceptable, but an Abomination to him. When God the Father declar'd his great Love and Favour for his beloved Son, he express'd it thus, that in him he was well pleas'd ; Mat. 3. 17. signifying thereby the highest Happiness

. And when he here declared his just Indignation against these ungrateful Israelites, he thus expresses it, that with them he was not well-pleas'd; which denotes the Height of Mifery. And this is farther confirm'd to us,

(2.) By the Punishment that befel them, for they were overthrown in the Wilderness : that is, by the juft Judg. ment of God for the gross Abuse of his Mercies, their Carcases drop'd in their Passage through the Wilderness, and two only, viz, Caleb and Foshua, surviv'd to reach the prontis'd Land of Canaan. Now Canaan was the Type of Heaven; the Wilderness signified the Passage through this wild and barren World ; to fall in the Wilderness, was to conie fhort of the heavenly Canaan; and the Persons that did so were those, to whom God sware in his Wrath, that they should not enter into his Rest. So that the sense of it is, that they who did not use aright the Pledges and Privileges bestow'd on them, were depriv'd of eternal Life, Thus we see how the unworthy Receivers of that spiritual Meat and Drink in the Wilderness were punishd with temporal Death in this World, and with eternal Death and Damnation in the next.

Now these things (faith the Apostle in the next words) are our Examples, to the intent that we should not luft after evil things, as they also lufted : That is, they are lively Representations and Lessons of Instruction, to teach us to keep our selves pure from their Vices, to glorify God for, his Mercies, and not to gratify our Lusts as they did ¿ and to learn by their Punishment to fear the Judgments of God falling upon us, if we follow and transgress after their Example. Whatsoever things were written aforetime (faith St. Paul, in another place) were written for our Learning; to teach us to avoid those Rocks against which others have split, and to obtain that Blessedness, which their In

gratitude

gratitude depriv'd them of, To which end, the Apostle warns us, in the following Verses, against many of their Sins, that unhappily occasion'd their Destruction : As,

Ift, He cautions against Idolatry, ver. 7. Neither be ye Idolaters, as were some of them ; as it is written, The People fat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play. Idolatry of all kinds is a Sin highly displeasing and hateful unto God; being a total falling away from him, and a preferring other things in our Love and Choice before him

3

'tis a robbing God of his Honour, of which he is infinitely tender; and the giving his Glory to another, which can. not but highly provoke him : especially considering, that he hath declar'd himself a jealous God, and hath threatned to visit this Iniquity upon the Persons and Posterity of those that commit it. “And yet the Ifraelites often fell into this heinous and provoking Sin: an Instance whereof we have here in the molten Calf, whom they worship’d with Luxury and Riot, with licentious Feafts, and leud Plays; Sitting down to eat and drink, and rising up to play ; as we read, Exod. 32. 4, 6, 8.

adly, He cautions against Fornication, ver. 8. Neither let us commit Fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one Day three and twenty thousand. This was another Sin of the Israelites, of which we read, Numb. 25. 1. where the People of Israel in their Abode at Shittim, are said to commit Whoredom with the Daughters of Moab; for which,

as also for their joining in the Idol-Sacrifices, God fent á 1 Plague among them, that destroy'd in one day Three and

Twenty Thousand of them. So far is Fornication from being (as some would have it) a Venial Sin, that needs no great Regard or Repentance, that it drew down the forest and severest Judgments upon the Committers of it; and in: stead of a Pardon, brought a deadly and wasting Plague upon them: which should teach us to beware of defiling our Bodies, which are to be consecrated as Temples to the Holy Ghoit; and not to make the Members of Christ to become the Members of a Harlot.

3dly, The Apostle, from their Example, cautions against tempting of God, ver. 9. Neither let us tempt Christ, as Some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of Serpents. Of this Sin of the Israelites we read, Numb. 21. 5, 6. where they are said to tempt God by loathing the 'Manna that he fent them, and asking Meat for their Lusts : for which reafon, the Lord sent fiery Serpents among them, and they.bit the

Peoples

[ocr errors]

People, and much People of Israel died; ver. 6. From whence we may learn to beware of being weary of the Gospel, and of loathing the spiritual Food recommended in it, left God let loose Satan, that old Serpent, upon us, first to iting, and then to destroy us.

4thly, Here is a Caution against Murmuring, ver. 10. Neither murmur ye, its some of them also murmured, and were deftroyed of tbe Deftroyer. This Sin of Murmuring was the great and famous Sin of the Israelites, who were apt to murmur and complain against God-upon all Occafions, even when he had done the greatest things for them. The Place here chiefly refer'd to, is Numb. 14.2, 3. where we read, that all the Children of Israel murmured against Moses, and against Aaron; and the whole Congregation said unto them, Would. God that we had died in the Land of Egypt, or would God we had died in this Wilder. ness: Wherefore barb. the Lord brought us into this Land to fall by the Sword, that our Wives and Children Mould be made a Prey ? &c. Where they unthankfully twit and upbraid their Maker with all the Mercies he had bestow'd upon them, which provoked God to send a Plague among them, and to sweep them all away by his destroying Angel. Ver. 36 27 & Chap 16, 45, 8c.

Nom all these things (faith our Apostle) happened unto them for Ensamples, and tbey are written for our Admonition, upon whom the Ends of the World are come : that is, all the sins and Judgments on these Israelites, who receiv'd such wonderful Mercies at God's hands, and yet fin'd so foully, and were destroy'd fo miserably, are so many Warnings to us Christians tó beware of their Sins, left we feel and fall by the fame Punishments. And these things are recorded and deriv'd down to us in the last Age of the World, on purpose that we should amend and take warning thereby. From all which the Apostle, in the next Verse, infers,

Sthly, A Caution against Presumption; Wherefore let him that thinketh be ft andetb, take heed left he fall: that is, since these Israelites, who had such great Advantages of standing, having the same spiritual Meat, and the fame spiritual Drink with us, and from thence might be suppos'd to receive fpiritual Strength enough to withstand all Temptations; if they yet fell so foully into fo great Evils both of Sin and Punishment, let none of us presumie upon our Strength, but let us all look warily to our Steps, lest we fall into the like Enormities. We are apt indeed to think too well of our

selves, felves, and to fay with David, Our Mountain stands fo Arong that it cannot be moved; and yet, if left to our felves, may with him foon fall into great Sin and Misery. Peter was so confident of the Strength of his Faith, and his standing firm to his Saviour, that he boldly declar'd, If all the World Mould deny him, yet would not be deny him; and yet foon after he deny'd him shamefully, and that not once only, but thrice with many bitter Oaths and Imprecations : Which may teach us not to presume too much upon our standing, but to pray that our Faith fail not, and that we fall not into Temptation.

And left any should defpond under the Greatness of his Trials, or his own Weakness to undergo them, the Apostle adds these comfortable Words in the Close, faying,

There hath no Temptation taken you, but such as is common to Man; but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above what ye are able, but will with the Temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it : Where we have two strong Motives to Patience and Confolation under all the Trials and Hardships that may befal us. The

First is taken from the Commonness of them ; There hath no Temptation taken you, but such as is common to Man. No reasonable Man can grudg to bear a share in the common Lot of Mankind, or hope that God should alter the Course of his Providence only for his fake: and since God is pleas'd, for wise Reasons, to exercise even the best Men with Trials and Afictions, it must be very unreasonable to refuse to taste of that bitter Cup, of which others drink before and with us. The

Second is taken from the Security here given of sufficient Strength to bear them, and of a happy Issue and Deliverance from them; both which are grounded upon the Fidelity of our Maker: for God is faithful, who will not suffer us to be tried above what we are able, but will with the Temptation make a way to escape; which is abundantly enough to relieve and support us under them.

This is the Substance of this Day's Epistle ; which will afford us many observable things, which I shall only mention. As,

1. From the Israelites eating the same spiritual Meat, and drinking the same spiritual Drink with us, we may learn that they had the same Covenant of Grace that we now

« PreviousContinue »