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: You see here, that the Time of his Appeara ance is said to be the End of the World. But how is that to be understood ? If we take the Expression in the literal Sense, and as we commonly 'use it, the Thing is not true: For there have already pass’d full Seventeen hundred Years since our Saviour's Appearance; and yet the End of the World is not come, nor do we know when it will. . ¿But there will be no Difficulty in this Mat, ter, if we carefully attend to the Phrase the Apostle here useth, and interpret it according to the Propriety of the Language in which it is delivered. The Word in my Text is, Supllacia nf3 óvwv, which every Body, that is versed in the Style of the New Testament, knows may be better and more naturally rendred the Confummation or Conclufion of the
Ages, than the End of the World. . - For the Understanding this Phrase, we must have recourse to the known Idiom of the
Fews, who used to speak of the several Oeconomies and Dispensations, under which the World successively had been, or was to be, as of so many Aires, or Ages. The last of which Ages, and the Accomplishment and Completion of all of them, they held to be the Age of the Mesah; beyond which they knew there was to be no other Age or Decoizomy. With reference to this way of speaking, the Times of the Gospel-Difpenfation are frequently called in Scripture the Laft Times, the Last Days, the Fulness of the Times, and in the Text, the Confummation or Shutting up of
È the Ages. The Meaning of all which Phrases i is no more than this, That the Times of the 1 Gospel, that is the Appearance and RevelaCotion of our Saviour; though God intended
them from the beginning, yet should they be the last of all Times. There should be several Dispensations set on foot in the World before they came ; and when those Times were fulfilled, when the Ends of those Dispensations were accomplished, then should our Saviour. appear, and begin his Kingdom, which should never be succeeded by any other...
This is the true Meaning of Christ's appearing, ev Euvlenéra nies aérv, as the Text exa presseth it, that is, not (as we Translate it) in the End of the World, but in the last of the Ages, or at the Time when the Ages were fulfilled and accomplished.
Now what Use are we to make of this Consideration, the Apostle himself doth fairly intimate to us in the beginning of this Epiftle: God, faith he, who at sundry Times, and in divers Manners, spake in Times paft unto the Fathers by the Prophets, bath in these laft Days Spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath made Heir of all Things, and by whom he made the Worlds. And so he goes on, to set forth the incomparable Dignity and Pre-eminence of this laft Messenger of God, above that of either Angels or Men, by whom he had spoken to Mankind before. But what is the Inference he draws from all this? Why, That you may see in the beginning of the Second Chapter , We ought therefore (faith he) to give the more earneft
heed to the Things we have heard, (That is to say, the Doctrine of the Gospel) left at any Time we let them Nip. For if the Word spoken by Angels was stedfali, and every Transgresion and Disõbedience received a just. Recompence of Reward; bow shall we escape if we neglect so great Salvation as was spoken to us by the Lord Hesus?
The Apostle's Argument here proceeds on this Manner. God's Revelation of his Will to Mankind, and the Discovery of his Grace and Goodness, was not all at once, but gradual and by Parts.
He first spake to Mankind by the Patriarchs who were burning and shining Lights in their Generations.
He afterwards singles out the Nation of the Fews, to be his peculiar People, and to them he gives a Written Law which was delivered to them by Angels in the Hand of Moses their Mediator (as the Apostle speaks in the Third of the Galatians) which Law was a Shadow or dark Representation of the Good Things which were afterwards to be revealed. ' . After this he fends Prophets in a continual Succession for several Ages, who do more clearly discover God's Will to them ; who call upon them to Holiness and Virtue ; and who speak in very plain Terms of that great Salvation which God should one Day manifest to the World.
And last of all, as the Lord of the Vineyard, in the Parable, dealt with his Husbandmen, who after he had sent Servants, one after another, of different Qualities and De
grees, at last sent his own Son : so, at last, i fay, did the great Lord of the World, when the Fulness of the Time was come, send his own Son to be his Embassador to Mankind; his own Son, who was the Brightness of his Glory, and the express Image of his Person.
If now, as the Apostle here argues ; If under the former Dispensations, when God only declared his Will by Angels or by Prophets, he was yet so severe, that no Transgression or Disobedience escaped, without a just Recompence of Vengeance; how can we escape, if we neglect so great Salvation, as that was, which in these last Days, was préached by Jesus Christ? How can we escape, if these last and greatest Methods of God for our Good, and in which all the Treasures of his Goodness are display'd; I say, if these have no effect upon us, in order to the making us both Holy and Happy ?
What Teachers, what Instructers can we further expect? What new Lights or Afliftances do we yet wait for ? Can any one think that God should set on foot fome other new Dispensation, for the bringing off those wretched People, upon whom this last could prevail nothing? Do we dream of another Covenant, or another Mediator between God and Man, besides Christ 7efus? Do we fancy that God will send some other Embassador, or Saviour into the World, after he hath sent his own Son ? Or that the Son of God will come a Second Time in Human Flesh, and again he Crucified for us?
No, certainly, God hath afforded the last and greatest Means for Man's Salvation, and no other is ever to be expected. Christ hath once appeared in the End of the World to put away Sin, by the Sacrifice of himself; and to those that believe in him, and love him, and obey him, will he appear the Second Time to their Salvation. But never will he appear again to make a new Reconciliation for those Men, that are not reconciled to God by his first Appearance. To such (as our Apostle speaks in the Tenth Chapter) There remains no more Sacrifice for Sin, but a fearful Expectation of Judgment and fiery Indignation to consume the Adversaries.
III. The Third General Point I am to insist on from the Text, is the End of our Saviour's Appearance; and that is here said to be the putting away of Sin; once in the End of the World hath he appeared to put away his Sin.:
This is that which the Scripture every: where assigns as the Business and Design of
Christ's coming. To run over all the particu- lar Texts, would be tedious in fo plain a Case.
I shall therefore only name One or Two. -- This is the Account that St. John gives of his Appearance, 1 Epist. Chap. iii. Ye know, faith he, that be was manifefied to take away our Sins, . And again, this is the Account that the Angel gives to 7ofeph, a little before his Birth, Matth. 1. 20. Fear not (faith he) to take unto thee Mary thy Wife; for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she fall bring forth a Son, and thou shalt call his Name Jesus z.