Page images
PDF
EPUB

enter into the holiest of all, through the merit of his own oblation.

When Mofes desired to see the glory of God, he said to him, “ Thou shalt see my back-parts?." Hence it is most probable that he saw the likeness of human nature ; as an anticipation of that blessed discovery which was afterwards made to him on the mount of transfiguration. It has been supposed, indeed, with great probability, that in this manner God ordinarily communicated his will to Moses; as it is said that he spake with him “ face “ to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend m."

By similar manifestations did the Lord comfort his Church, while she was in Babylon, and while she continued in a low state after her return from captivity Ezekiel, by the river Chebar, saw the likeness of a glorious throne ; and “ upon the likes “ ness of the throne was the likeness as the appear“ ance of a man above upon it n.” No manifestation could tend more to comfort the souls of believers, in their afflicted state in a strange land, than such a prelude of the future incarnation of their God, and of the glorious majesty of his kingdom. After the return of the captives, when they were so weak as to be threatened with destruction from their enemies, Zechariah was favoured with a vifion of Christ, as “ a man-standing among the “ myrtle-trees that were in the bottom. Behind “him were there red horses fpeckled and white 0.” While this vision represented the low and mournful state of the Church, it expressed her safety, from the presence of Christ in the midst of her, as the Lord of all the angels of heaven, whom he employs as his minifters to fulfil his pleasure in the kingdom of providence, in subserviency to the interests of his fpiritual kingdom. Many limilar visions had this prophet. Particularly, the Angel who appeared to him as a man, expressly foretold his own mission to dwell as the LORD of hosts in the inidst of his Church P.

from | Exod. xxxiii. 23. m Ver. 11. Ezek. i. 26. o Zech. 1, 8.

The very character of an Angel or Melenger, under which the Son appeared to the patriarchs, and to the Church under the Old Testament, while it declared that he was then sent by the Father, had a special reference to his future milsion in our nature, as “ the Angel of the Cove“ nant, who should come to his temple 9.” The many appearances, which he made in the likeness of man, if not meant as preludes of his actual incarnation, and for confirming the faith of the Church in this most important article, could have no other tendency than to lead her astray to idolatry. These appearances, so far from confirming her faith in that revelation given to her, must have directly frustrated one great end of it, which was to preserve the doctrines of the divine unity and spirituality; and must have proved a snare, inducing her to “ change the glory of the uncor“ ruptible God into an image made like to cor“ ruptible inan ?." But when she knew that these were the manifestations of one divine person, solea ly in relation to a future incarnation for the re

X 2

demption p Zech. ü. 8.-11. a Mal. üi. . * Rom. i. 23.

demption of lost man; she was guarded againft the folly of supposing that God had a human form, or that his pure essence had any affinity to gross matter.

11. The vision that Abraham had of a furnace and lamp, when God entered into covenant with him, may be viewed as a prelude of the incarnation. After he had, according to the divine command, divided the various parts of the sacrifice, and “ laid each piece one against another;" when it was dark, he saw a smoking furnace and a burning lamp pass between the pieces. These have been generally viewed as fymbols of the affliction of the posterity of Abraham in Egypt, and of their deliverance; especially as we are informed in the context, that God foretold both the sufferings and the redemption of Israel, and that day entered into covenant with Abraham. Others have understood the smoking furnace as an emblem of the sufferings of Christ's human nature, under the wrath of God as a Judge; and the burning lamp, of his divine to which it is united, in confequence of which union it was impossible that he could succumb under his sufferings; or of the glory that followed t:

It is evident that the facrifice prefigured that of Christ. The covenant made with Abraham, in as far as it respected spiritual and eternal blefsings, was only a revelation of that covenant which had been made from eternity with Him

who s Gen. xv. 10. 1%. t See Edward's Hift. Redemption, p: 52.

[ocr errors]

who was promised as the seed of Abraham ; and in this point of view, it derived all its confirma. tion from the death of the great Sacrifice.

But can there be any thing improper in viewing these symbols, as referring both to the natural seed of Abrahain, and to that one feed, “ which “ is Christ u ;" to the former primarily, to the latter ultimately? We know that Christ is the antitypical Israel ; and that what is spoken by one of the prophets; “ Out of Egypt have I call“ ed my Son y,” is by an evangelist understood as referring to the Saviour. We cannot so well perceive the propriety of this application, without supposing such a double reference. There are other passages of Scripture, which can scarcely be otherwise interpreted ; as the language of the Church in the book of Psalms, which seems to include the sufferings both of the type and of the antitype : “ Many a time have they afflicted me from “ my youth, may Ifrael now say ;-yet they have “not prevailed against me. The plowers plow“ed upon my back; they made long their fur66_rows w." The last words undoubtedly allude to Christ's “ giving his back to the smiters," and to the deep incisions made by the scourge.

ice.

111. The burning bush may be viewed as a similar emblem. It has, indeed, been generally understood as shadowing forth the afflictions of Ilrael in Egypt, and at the same time her prefervation by reason of the divine presence. With X3 .

fully u Gal. iü. 16. v Hos. xi. 3.; Mat. ij. 15. W Psal. cxxix. 1.-3.

fully as much propriety may it be viewed as denoting the sufferings of the Messiah: “ The An“ gel of the Lord appeared unto him (Moses) in “ a flame of fire, out of the midst of a bush : and “ he looked, and behold, the bush burned with “ fire, and the bush was not consumed. And “ Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this “ great sight, why the bush is not burned x." He, who appeared, was the Angel of the LORD, who had often before manifested himself in the likeness of man. The bush or bramble, as the word fignifies, was a fit emblem of his humanity, which is represented “ as a root springing out of a dry ground." “ The flame of fire” denotes the wrath of God, which burned, but did not consume his human nature. The reason why this could not be confumed, was the inhabitation of the Angel-JEHOVAH. This was indeed “ a great fight;" for there was " no sorrow like unto his sorrow, where

with the LORD afflicted him in the day of his “ fierce anger.”

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Iv. The ladder, which Jacob faw in a dream, was a striking symbol of the incarnation. “Be“ hold, a ladder set upon the earth, and the top “ of it reached to heaven; and behold the angels " of God afcending and descending on it. And, “ behold, the Lord stood above it, and said, I am “ the LORD God of Abraham thy father :" Our Lord must himself be the best interpreter of this vision; and he explains it to Nathanael in there

words, * Exod. iii. 2, 3. ! y Lam. i. 12. 2 Gen. xsviji. 12, 13.

« PreviousContinue »