網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

PART III.

SERMON XXXIX.

JOB'S FAITH AND EXPECTATION.

JOB, xix. 25, 26.

I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand in the latter day upon

the earth. And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God.

CHRISTIANITY, that is, the religion of which Messiah is the author and object, the foundation, life, and glory, though not altogether as old as the creation, is nearly so. It is coeval with the first promise and intimation of mercy given to fallen man. When Adam, by transgression, had violated the order and law of his creation, his religion, that is, the right disposition of his heart towards God, was at an end. Sin deprived him at once of faith and hope, of love and joy. He no longer desired, he no longer could bear the presence of his offended Maker. He vainly sought to avoid it ; and when compelled to answer, though he could not deny his guilt, instead of making an ingenious confession, he attempted to fix the blame upon the woman, or rather indeed upon the Lord himself, who had provided her for him. But mercy, undeserved and undesired, relieved him from a state in which he was already become obdurate and desperate. A promise was given him of the seed of the woman,'* which virtually contained, as the seed contains the future plant, the substance of all the subsequent promises which were fulfilled by the incarnation of the Son of God, and by all that he did, or suffered, or obtained for sinners, in the character of Mediator. For a sinner can have no comfortable intercourse with the Holy God, but through a Mediator. Therefore the apostle observes of the patriarchs and servants of God, under the Old Testament, . These all died in faith.'t We can say nothing higher than this of the apostles and martyrs under the New Testament. They died, not trusting in themselves that they were righteous, not

[ocr errors]

* Gen. iji, 15.

+ Heb. xi. 13.

[ocr errors]

rejoicing in the works of their own hands, but they died, like the thief upon the cross, in faith, resting all their hope upon him who, by his obedience unto death, is the end of the law for righteousness, unto every one that believeth.'* We have greater advantages, in point of light and liberty, than those of old. The prophecies concerning Messiah, which, at the time of delivery, were obscure, are to us infallibly interpreted by their accomplishment. And we know that the great atonement, typically pointed out by their sacrifices, has been actually made ; that the Lamb of God, has, hy the one offering of himself, put away sin. But as to the ground and substance, their faith and hope were the same with ours.

" Abraham rejoiced to see the day of Christ ;'t and aged Jacob soon after he had said, I have waited for thy salvation, O Lord,' died with the same composure and willingness as Simeon did, who saw it with his own eyes. Job, who was perhaps contemporary with Jacob, who at least is, with great probability, thought to have lived before Moses, gives us, in this passage, a strong and clear testimony of bis faith. And it forms a beautiful and well-chosen introduction to the third part of Messiah, the principal subject of which is, the present privileges and future prospects of those who believe in the Saviour's name.

The learned are far from being agreed, either in the translation, or in the explanation, of this text. The words worms and body being printed in Italics in our versions will apprize the attentive English reader that there are no words answerable to them in the Hebrew. If you omit these words, something will be evidently wanting to make a complete sense. This want different writers have supplied, according to their different judgments; and from hence chiefly has arisen the variety of versions and interpretations. But it would be very improper for me, in this place, to take up your time, and to draw off your attention, from the great concerns which should fill our minds when we meet in the house of God, by giving you a detail of controversies and criticisms, which, after all, are much more uncertain than important. We need not dispute whether Job, in this passage, professes his assurance of the incarnation of Messiah, or of his resurrection, or of his final appearance to judge the world ; or whether he is only declaring bis own personal faith and hope in him. These several senses are not so discordant, that if we determine for one, we must exclude the rest. I shall content myself with the words as I find them. And I hope that, if we should miss some of the precise ideas which Job might have when he spoke, we shall not

4 Jolin, viii. 36.

* Rom. d. 4. VOL. III.

39

[ocr errors]

greatly mistake his general meaning, nor wander far wide from the scope of the text.

Four things are observable : 1. The title of Redeemer.'

II. The appropriating word, 'My.'
III. His standing upon the earth.

IV. Job's expectation of seeing him in his flesh.'
I. The title. There is no name of Messiah more significant,

. comprehensive, or endearing, than the name REDEEMER. The name of Saviour expresses what he does for sioners.

He saves them from guilt and wrath, from sin, from the present evil world, from the power of darknes, and from all their enemies. them with an everlasting salvation. But the word 'Redeemer,

· ' intimates likewise the manner in which he saves them. For it is not merely by the word of his power, as he saved his disciples when in jeopardy on the lake, by saying to the winds and the seas, • Peace, be still: and there was a great calm ;'* but by price, by paying a ransoin for them, and pouring out the blood of his heart, as an atonement for their sins. The Hebrew word for Redeerner, Goel, primarily signifies, a near kinsman, or the next of kin. He with whom the right of Redemption lay, t and who, by virtue of his nearness of relation, was the legal avenger of blood. Thus Messiah took upon him our nature, and by assuming our flesh and blood, became nearly related to us, that he might redeem our forfeited inberitance, restore us to liberty, and avenge our cause against Satan, the enemy and murderer of our souls. But thus he made himself also responsible for us, to pay our debts, and to answer the demands of the justice and law of God on our behalf. He fulfilled bis engagement. He suffered, and he died on this account. But our Redeemer, who was once dead, is now alive, and liveth for evermore, and has the keys of death and of hades.'I This is he of whom Job saith, I know that he liveth,' (was then living,) though he was not to stand, upon the earth, until the latter day.' He is the living One, having life in himself, the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever.§ Such was his own language to the Jews, 'Before Abraham was, I am.'ll Therefore the Redeemer is mighty, and his redemption is sure. able to save to the uttermost. His power is unlimited, and bis official authority, as Mediator, is founded in covenant, ratified by bis own blood, and by the oath of the unchangeable God. T

II. But Job uses the language of appropriation. He says, My Redeemer.' And all that we know, or hear, or speak of

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

* Mark, iv. 39. Heb. xiii. 8.

+ Numb. XXXV. 19-21.

# John, viii. 58.

Ruth, iv. 1.-3. | Rev. i. 18.

| Psalm cx. 4.

him, will avail us but little, unless we are really and personally interested in him as Our Redeemer. A cold speculative knowledge of the Gospel, such as a lawyer bas of a will or a deed, which he reads with no further design than to understand the tenour and import of the writing, will neither save nor comfort his soul. The believer reads it, as the will is read by the heir, who finds his own name in it, and is warranted by it to call the estate, and all the particulars specified, his own. He appropri

, ates the privileges to himself, and says, The promises are mine ; the pardon, the peace, the heaven of which I read, are all mine. This is the will and testament of the Redeemer, of my Redeemer. The great Testator remembered me in his will, which is confirmed and rendered valid by his death ;* and therefore I humbly claim, and assuredly expect, the benefit of all that he has bequeathed. But how shall we ubtain this comfortable persuasion, and preserve it against all the cavils of our enemies, who will endeavour to litigate our right? I seem to have before me a proper occasion of discussing a point, very important and by too many misunderstood; I mean, the nature of that assurance of hope which the Scripture speaks of as attainable, which has been happily experienced by many believers, and which all are exhorted and encouraged to seek after, in the methods of God's appointment. But my plan will only permit me to offer a few brief hints

. upon the subject.

1. Many respectable writers and preachers have considered this assurance as essential to true faith. But we have the Scripture in our hands, and are not bound to abide by the decisions of any man, further than as they agree with this standard. The most eminent properties, or effects ascribed to faith, are, that it works by love,'t purifies the heart,'I and overcomes the world.'s I think it cannot easily be denied, by those who are competent judges in the case, that there are persons to be found, who give these evidences that they are believers, and yet are far from the possession of an abiding assurance. They hope they love the Lord, but there is such a disproportion between ihe sensible exercise of their love, and the conviction they have of their obligations to him, that they are often afraid they do not love him supremely; and if not, they know that in the Scriptural sense they do not love him at all.

They can say, from their hearts, that they desire to love him, but they dare not go further. But there is a weak and a strong faith ; they differ not in kind, but only in degree. Faith is com

[ocr errors]

* Heb. ix. 16.

f Gal. v. 6.

Acts. 89.9.

8 1 John, v. 4.

pared to a 'grain of mustard-seed, '* which, under the cultivation of the heavenly Husbandman, who first sows the seed in the heart,

But in its infant and weak state, it is grows up to assurance. true and acceptable faith. Far from breaking the bruised reed,'t he will strengthen it. He will not quench the smoking flax,' but will in due time fan it into a flame.

2. I will go a step further. Were I to define the assurance we are speaking of, I should perhaps say, It is, in our present state, the combined effect of faith and ignorance. That assurance which does not spring from true faith in the Son of God, wrought by the operation of the Holy Spirit, is no better than presumption. But I believe what we call assurance, even when it is right, is not entirely owing to the strength of our faith, but in a great measure to our having such faint and slight views of some truths, which, if we had a more powerful impression of them, unless our faith was likewise proportionably strengthened at the same time, might possibly make the strongest assurance totter and tremble. I will explain myself. Admitting that I had a right to tell you, that I am so far assured of my interest in the Gospel salvation, as to have no perplexing doubt either of my acceptance or of my perseverance, you would much over-rate me, if you should suppose this was a proof that my faith is very strongAlas! I have but a very slight perception of the evil of sin, of the deceitfulness of my own heart, of the force and subtilty of my spiritual enemies, of the strictness and spirituality of the holy law, or of the awful majesty and holiness of the great God with whom I have to do.

If, in the moment while I am speaking to you, he should be pleased to impress these solemn realities upon my mind, with a conviction and evidence tenfold greater than I have ever known hitherto, (which I conceive would still be vastly short of the truth,) unless my faith was also strengthened by a tenfold clearer and more powerful discovery of the grace and glory of the Saviour, you would probably see my countenance change, and my speech falter. The Lord in compassion to our weakness, shows us those things by little and little, as we are able to bear them; and if, as we advance in the knowledge of ourselves and of our dangers, our knowledge of the unsearchable riches of Christ advances equally, we may rejoice in hope, we may even possess an assured hope. But let not him who hath put on his harness, boast as though he had put it off.? | We are yet in an enemy's land, and know not what changes we may meet with before our warfare is finished.

* Matth. xvii. 20.

† Isa. xlii. 3.

| 1 Kings, xx. 11.

« 上一頁繼續 »