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That we might seek a Godly seed.” See we not here that this one, this holy one, this Godly seed, is the head of every man?
The priest as the physician, was to conclude this work of cleansing, by making atonement before the Lord. So saith our Apostle, speaking of our great High Priest, by whom we have now received the atonement :
“ But when the priest had finished the peace-making work, he lifted up his hands and blessed the people.”
Thus, when our great, our almighty High Priest, had finished the work he came to accomplish, he lifted up his hands and blessed them, and it came to pass while he blessed them, he was parted from them and carried up into heaven. And when the great business of time is completed, this adorable Personage, this Head of every man, this High Priest of our profession, will pronounce the bles. sing or the redeemed, saying, “Come, ye blessed of my Father, enter into the kingdom prepared for you, from the foundation of the world.”
You will observe, I have but just touched upon the priestly office, without attending either to order or method; my whole design being to show, how Joshua as a priest, was a type of our blessed Saviour. We proceed to consider the attendants of Joshua.
First, Satan standing at his right hand to resist him, the same malignant being who was present when the Lord spake of his servant, Job.
Secondly, A benignant spirit. The angel of the Lord. The angels are ministering spirits, sent forth, commissioned to wait upon the heirs of salvation in general, but they are described as attending particularly upon prophets, priests, and kings.
Thirdly, He was attended by those who were chosen, and faithful, appointed as instruments to accomplish the will of God.
Fourthly, and lastly, By the presence of the divine Being him self.
And was not the glorious High Priest of our profession attended by every one of these characters ?
1st, By the malignant spirit, in a very conspicuous point of view, in the wilderness. 2dly, In the Pharisees. And 3dly, In the disciples themselves. But the Redeemer said to the arch-fiend in the wilderness, “Get thee hence, Satan;" and the devil leaving him, angels came and ministered unto him. It was the same inveterate adversary, who, entering into Judas, instigated him to
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betray his Lord and Master. To the mind of Peter also he found access, when he so forcibly assayed to prevent our Saviour from going up to Jerusalem. But time would fail to point out in how many instances and characters, Satan appeared at the right hand of our High Priest, to resist him.
But in every instance the Lord, even the Lord that hath chosen Jerusalem, rebuked him.
GREE ABLY to your request, I proceed to sketch for you my scriptural investigations. Please to open your Bible and read from the eleventh verse of the fifteenth chapter of the gospel by St. Luke, to the close of that chapter.
No sections in the sacred writings, merit more serious attention than the parables of our Lord. It does not appear to be the design of our Saviour, that at the time when they were delivered, they should be fully understood, at least, by the multitude : and he has condescended to render a reason, why he thus clothed his doctrines in metaphor. The parables contained the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven; had he revealed to the Jews in general, the grace exhibited in these sacred figures, light, celestial light, would have burst upon them, conviction would have followed, knowledge would have succeeded, the disease of the mind would have been radically cured, and mental restoration would have been the consequence. To their divine physician, they would have yielded their soul's homage, and love and adoration would have prevented their conspiring against the Lord of glory, and Christ would not have been crucified.
But Jesus Christ, by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, was delivered up for the express purpose of taking away the sins of the world, and as Jehovah frequently makes use of his creatures as the instruments of his operations, there was a neces
sity that events should succeed precisely in the order they were disclosed. “To you," said the Redeemer, addressing the disciples, “it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven to others in parables." These parables were given to the nation in general, and to the disciples in particular, to one in the light, which barely served to manifest the darkness, that shrouded the communication, to the other, in the light which clearly elucidated what the darkness concealed. No spirit but the spirit of God can reveal the mysteries of God, and consequently, for an explanation of these parables, we must have recourse to this elucidating Spirit.
I am aware, that it is generally believed these portions of scripture are clearly understood; men, unconverted men, who never were supposed by the religious world to have received the teachings of the divine Spirit, are yet conceived fully adequate to an explanation of these portions of the divine testimony; nay, it is believed, that nothing more is requisite than to read, and comprehension becomes a thing of course.
For my own part, not having taken my seat in the chair of infallibility, I pretend not to give an infallible exposition. But I have long been convinced, that scripture is the best interpreter of scripture, and I confess I feel sure of my ground, when I take my stand upon a foundation so firm, and it is from diligently searching, and with prayer and much supplication, the sacred oracles of my God, that I humbly presume to think I have obtained some knowledge, some acquaintance with divine testimony.
It is a vulgar observation, that parables do not go upon all fours, and I find commentators generally agree, that the two sons in the parable before us, the elder son and his prodigal brother, describe the nations of the Jews and Gentiles. I am happy when I find these venerable gentlemen speaking of scripture, in a manner calculated to confirm and illustrate its truth. Their testimony will go much further than the testimony of divine revelation; the world loves its own men, and its own measures; and yet, although I have no predilection for singularity, I had rather stand alone, than unite with a party however respectable, in giving the lie to, or weakening the authority of the sacred writings. I have no dependence either for time for eternity, save the authority of divine revelation or rather its Author, and with the Apostle Paul, 1 uniformly supplicate : Let God be true, and every man a liar.
After carefully consulting the records of my God, I cannot admit, that the elder son in this parable is the Jewish nation; and I have
many reasons for rejecting this opinion, a few of which I will immediately produce. The father, speaking to his first-born, says, Son thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine, but this, thy brother quas dead, and is alive again, was lost and is found. We know, that the angelic nature bears the character, Son; and that this nature, was, in the order of time, before the human nature, which was made little lower than the angels, and as our almighty Father, when clothing himself with our nature, passed by the nature of angels, and did not make provision for their recovery, or restoration by sacrifice, and as without shedding of blood there is no remission of sin, the wages of sin are death. Much is said in the sacred writings of the single eye, of looking with a single eye; and it is affirmed, that when the eye is single, the whole body is full of light; and these same oracles of truth inform us, that God had appointed a day, in the which he would gather all things into one ; they assert, that Jew and Gentile were reconciled in one body on the cross. In fact, as it is the plan and purpose of the adversary to divide, so it is the plan and purpose of God to unite.
Many texts of scripture are erroneously quoted. The text says, Of his fulness have all we received, and grace
quotation changes the expression, and tells a different story; Out of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace. There is a gathering with Christ, and there is a scattering. Those who are taught of God gather with Christ, and would rather have all spiritual blessings in Christ Jesus than any where else, because they would thus be assured of their continuing. Our life is hid with Christ in God; thus it is safe, it is a full assurance of this truth, that gives confidence; thus saith the Apostle 2 Corinthians, v. 8. “ We are confident I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.”.
Yes, the Christian knowing in whom he hath believed, is pos. sessed of an holy confidence, assured that God, who hath promised ever abideth faithful; he holds fast the profession of his faith. Hear the Apostle in Philippians i. 6, “ Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you, will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” Yes indeed, there is an holy 'confidence, and when we are persuaded the word was spoken by God, we believe, and we accept it as faithful: we pronounce positively, that he who hath promised will perform.
It is with singular pleasure, I enter upon the consideration of this parable; frequently have I expatiated upon it in public, and
always with encreasing satisfaction; and in giving it to you, my friend, it may possibly abide with you when I am here no more.
It is unnecessary to say to you, that this parable was spoken by him who spake as never man spake. In this beautiful parable we listen to the great Master, narrating his success in seeking and saving, that which was lost, in bringing again, that which was driven away. The character of the father and the son, the parent and the offspring, is strikingly exhibited. First, The youngest son is represented as taking his portion of goods; and secondly, Going into a far country, a far country indeed; the distance was immense ; thirdly, Here he wasted his substance with riotous living; after which, fourthly, He joined himself with a citizen of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed swine, and fain would he have filled himself with the husks, that the swine did eat; until, fifthly, He came to himself and then he said, I will arise and go to my father. How many hired servants of my father, have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger. This consideration determined him to return, and to make a full confession of his crimes, and he said, Father I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and I am no more worthy to be called thy son. He would have proceeded, had he not been interrupted by the paternal kindness of his father!
Here let us pause. We see the son commencing independence; he receives his portion of goods, and how vast, how glorious was his portion! Behold him in Paradise, with all the blessings of heaven, and of earth, above and beneath him; the garden of Eden blooms before him, and he is surrounded by whatsoever can please the eye, or taste; and his fair associate, issuing immediately from the hand of her Creator, is beyond expression, beautiful.
But in this honourable station he continued not; in a short time he wasted his substance in riotous living, and when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land, and he began to be in want, and he joined himself to a citizen of that country, who sent him into the field to feed swine ; and fain would he have filled himself with the husks which the swine did eat, and no man gave unto him. This is a melancholy picture of depraved nature, and yet it must be confessed to be strictly just. Yet humanity thus depraved, was not without a Father. Have we not said, the prophet all one Father? Assuredly we have. There did indeed exist a temporary distinction, there was a middle wall of partition, which for a time