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and so prepare a way for the coming of Christ, and the erection of his spiritual kingdom.
With these views, about two thousand years before the birth of the Messiah, God called Abraham from Ur of the Chaldees, and separated him from an idolatrous world, and chose his seed to be his people ; that, in his dealings with them, he might bear a public testimony against idolatry, in the sight of all the nations of the earth ; and at the same time exhibit a most exact picture of himself in his conduct, and set his character in the most glaring, striking, affecting light; that, stupid as they were, they should be, as it were, forced to see and understand what he was. And, at the same time, he would let them know what they ought to be, and the greatness of their obligations to the Deity; and turn their hearts inside out, that they might see themselves, and discern their true character, and so feel their need of a Redeemer and sanctifier: And then he would exhibit, in types and shadows, i.e. by sacrifices of atonement, and purifications for uncleanness, the nature of an atonement of Christ, and of the sanctifying influences of the holy spirit ; and thus prepare the way for the coming of the Messiah, and the erection of his spiritual kingdom in the world : and that not only among the Jews, thus trained up, but also among Gentiles, who, in afterages, should be let into these divine dispensations and designs, and reap the benefit of all these preparatory and introductory steps.
Had Joseph not been sold, and had Jacob continued to live in the land of Canaan, with his family, and had his posterity there gradually increased, until they had filled all the land (the Canaanites meanwhile dying off, as the Indians have done in N. E. these 130 years past)...I say, had his posterity gradually increased until they had filled all the land, without any uncommon changes, or any extraordinary interpositions of Providence, none of the fore-mentioned ends could
have been answered: Yea, there would apparently have been the utmost danger that the Israelites would have been 'no better than the Canaanites had been ; and God might foresee that this would infallibly be the caşe ; and so all his ends in separating Abraham and his seed wholly frustrated.
On the other hand, if Joseph is sold....if Jacob and his family move down and settle in Egypt, the chief seat of idolatry, a proper scene opens in the view of infinite wisdom, where all his wonders. might be wrought; and fit opportunities, he foresaw, would present for the accomplishment of all the purposes of his heart.
Nothing further was needful than for God not to hinder Joseph's brethren, and they would sell him.... not to hinder Potiphar's wife, and she would get him cast into prison, where he might be prepared for, and from whence he might be raised to the highest adyancement, by which many noble and God-like ends might be answered. --Nothing further. was needful than for God not to hinder the King of Egypt, and he would oppress the Israelites till they were prepared for their egression.....not to hinder Pharaoh, and he would harden his heart, and refuse to let them go, until Egypt was filled with the wonderful works of God. Yea, if God hindered him not, into the Red-Sea he would drive head-long, hurried on by the corruptions: of his heart, that, in his destruction, God might shew. his
power, and cause his name to be declared throughout all the earth. And now the Hebrews, rescued from Pharaoh's destroying sword, by almighty power, would be in the hands of God, their deliverer; to be disciplined....to be humbled, and proved, and tried, that it might be known what was in their hearts; and that, finally, they might be prepared to enter the promised land, and execute the vengeance of the ALMIGHTYon those idolatrous nations, a.:d be God's peculiar people, till the MESSIAH's coming, and the erection of his
spiritual kingdom: I say, be God's peculiar people.... to receive the Law from Sinai....to be under God's immediate government....to keep the holy oracles..... to preserve the predictions of the Messiah, and to answer many other noble and divine ends God had in view.
A plan, in which so much sin was to be permitted, and so much misery endured, might, by short-sighted mortals, have been thought dishonorable to God, and unhappy for the Israelites ; but, under the
management of infinite wisdom, it proves the direct contrary. Yea, for aught that appears, God could not have ta: ken a better method, as things then stood in the world, to make himself known, and get honor to his great name, and make the Israelites sensible of their dependance upon him, and obligations to him, and engage them to perpetual obedience, than that. As it is written,
“ What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it ?”
Yea, it was a plan not only suited to be beneficial in that age, but in all succeeding generations ; and that in more instances than can well be enumerated. Para ticularly, it has furnished us with a HISTORY of the Deity and with a HISTORY OF HUMAN NATURE : Such a history as is indeed of infinite value : for every thing is exemplified in FACTS ; by which the mind is in structed more clearly, and the heart reached more ef. fectually, than in any other way.
The invisible God, whom no eye hath seen, or can see, and of whom it is so difficult for us, in this berighted world, to frame just conceptions, is brought upon
and he acts out his nature before our eyes, with a design to set his true character in a clear and striking light. Here we see, as it were with our eyes, how he fore-ordained whatsoever came to pass.... how he laid out the whole plan, from the selling of Joseph to his advancement, and to Jacob's going down into Egypt; and how they should be oppressed and
brought into bondage, and how they should finally be
i. e. from his self-moying goodness and sovereign grace. *_And by all, we see, that not any thing, whatsoever, is able to frustrate God's design, or hinder the faithful accomplishment of his promise to Abraham, That to his seed he would give the land of Canaan.
At the same time, we have HUMAN NATURE brought upon the stage, and experiments made upon the heart of man, in a great variety ; whereby its true temper is as certainly determined as was ever the nature of any thing in the natural world, by the great Sir Isaac Newton.t
;* Exodus XXXIII. 29. NUMBERS XIV. From these digo pensations, which were acknowledged to be right by the Jews, St. Paul was able to justify the divine conduct, in his day, in casting off the Jews, and calling the Gentiles. Romans 1x. • If God had a right to give up Pharaoh to hardness of heart, and to destruction in the days of old, as ye Jews own ; why not you now !--If the exercises of God's grace were sovereign then, to your fathers, who deserved, God being judge, to be all consumed in a moment ; why may not the Gentiles, notwithstanding their ill deserts, be now called and saved, from the same sovereign grace? God used to act as a sovereign ; why may he not still ? and, if in one instance, why not in another, altogether similar ?". Nor could the Jew fairly evade the force, of this reasoning. And if we should only suppose, that Pharaoh, after he was drowned, went to Hell, and that the unbelieving Jews of that age, who were cast off by God for their infidelity, were eternally lost, then we have the doctrine of reprobation, which has been so much misunderstood and misrepresented, exemplified in facts. For, whatsoever God does in time, that he, from all eternity, intended to do. Yea, and that which is right for God to do in time, he had a right, from eternity, to determine to do. Yea, if God, in fact, governs the world well, then he did well to determine to govern it as he does. Reasonable ereatures would never object against God's laying out'ą universal plan, if the plan did but suit their taste.
+ OBJECTION. " But it can never be supposed, that the true character of human nature, in general, can be decided from the perverse conduct of the Israelites in the wilderness."
ANSWER. Was not their conduct, then, of a piece with the general tenor of their conduct, from that time and forward, for fifteen hundred years, when they slew their prophets, yea, and crucified the son of God ? Acts VII. 51-52.