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ver'd them who, thro' Fear of Death, were all their Life-time subject to Bondage; and thereby eternal Life and Immortality were brought into the clearest Light by the Gospel.
Fourthly, The Subverfion of Sodom by Fite from Heaven, is a Type of that Perdition which is prepared for the ungodly, when our Saviour fhall come in flaming Fire, taking Vengeance on them that know not God, and obey not the Gofpel, who shall be punished with an everlasting Deftruction, from the Presence of the Lord, and from the Glory of his Power.
How great an Illuftration does the Story of the Faith of Abraham in the Old Testament, receive by being compared with what our Saviour and his Apoftles fay of it in the New, where it is made the Standard and Example of that Faith which is to be exercised by the Members of the Chriftian Church, which Acts of Faith may be reduced to the following Particulars.
I. His leaving his Native Countrey upon the Divine Command, which is clearly reprefented in Hebrews xi. 8, 9, 10. The Parallel to which, in the Chriftian Church, is the Obedience to the Divine Command, not to love this World, nor the Things that are in it, but to fet our Affections on the Things that are above, which every one in his Baptifm vows to do.
II. The fecond great Act of Abraham's Faith was his Confidence in the Promises, which affured him that he should have a Son by Sarah, when, according to the Courfe of Nature, the Thing promised was highly improbable; and which miraculous Child fhould have a numerous Pofterity that should inherit all the Land of Canaan, and from whom the Meffiab fhould defcend.
III. The third Inftance of his Faith, was his offering up Ifaac, the Son of the Promife, the Sincerity
of his Faith expreffing itself in an absolute Obedience to the Divine Command; for he accounted that God was able to raise him up even from the Dead, from whence alfo he received him in a Figure: So that as it is ftated by St. James, his Faith wrought with his Works.
What is parallel to this, in the Chriftian Church, is a firm Belief that Christ, the promised Seed of whom Ifaac was a Type, was born of a pure Virgin by the Holy Ghost, and after his Sufferings raised from the Dead, by the Power of God, to fulfil the Promises made to the Fathers, and that all Believers must be born again of the Holy Ghost, and raised like to Chrift to Eternal Life at the laft Day; and in general, it is fuch a Faith, as must be exercifed in an entire Reliance upon the Divine Promises, whereby all penitent Believers are affur'd of the Divine Mercy, in the Pardon of their manifold Tranfgreffions, and of the Almighty Affiftance of Divine Grace, by which they fhall be enabled to overcome all the Powers of Sin and Darkness, and fo be made meet for the Inheritance of the Saints in Eternal Life and Blifs.
Jacob, not long before his Death, foretels the coming of the Meffiah, and that the Sceptre fhould not depart from Judah 'till Shiloh come, which was accordingly fulfilled.
In the Story of Jofeph we have the Inftance of a moft fublime Virtue, founded upon the Fear of the Almighty, which induced him to undergo the Miferies of a Dungeon rather than comply with the Allurements of his wanton Miftrefs. This his refolved Piety was amply rewarded even in this Life, being advanced from a Prifon to be the Ruler over all the Lands of Egypt, and thereby the Preserver of his Father and all his Family in the Time of an univerfal Famine.
The Deliverance of the Hebrews out of that Bondage with which they were fo cruelly oppreffed, is both
by our Saviour and the Apoftles made the Reprefentation of that much greater Deliverance from eternal Death and Mifery, which all those that believe in Jefus Chrift fhould be refcued from, for fuch fhall never perish, but have everlasting Life.
All the Sacrifices and Inftitutions of the Ceremonial Law, were the Types and Shadows of that great Sacrifice which the Meffiah fhould offer up for the Sins of the World, and therefore being but the Shadow of good Things to come, were to be abolish'd.
The Land of Canaan, into the Poffeffion of which the Hebrews were conducted by Joshua, was a most fertile and pleasant Land, but here they could not long abide, by reafon of Death; and therefore Daoid the moft excellent of all their Princes in the heighth of his Profperity, upon the Dedication of the immense Treasures which he had acquir'd for the building the Temple, acknowledges that they were but Strangers and Pilgrims on the Earth, and in it they could have no continuing Abode: and in many of the Pfalms expreffes, that his Hope and Defire was only fix'd upon the Expectation of eternal Blifs, and therefore cries out, Whom have I in Heaven but thee, and there is none on the Earth I defire befides thee; for in thy Prefence alone is fulness of Joy, and Pleasures for evermore: For as the Apostle obferves, they that fay fuch Things, declare plainly that they seek a Countrey, that is, an Heavenly.
The Books of Judges, and the Hiftory of the Kings of Judah and Ifrael, are the clear and full Reprefentations of the Soverein Dominion of the Almighty in the World; for while thefe People continued in their Regard and Obedience to the Divine Commands, they liv'd in the greatest Peace and Profperity, and without the Affiftance of any foreign Alliance, were protected from all the Infults of their Enemies.
But when they funk into Idolatry and other Im
pieties, they were cruelly harafs'd by feveral Nations, as well as by Inteftine Wars and Difcords.
The ten Tribes were driven out of their Land, and carried Captive into foreign Countries, where they now remain in the very manner as was foretold by Mofes, and the Prophets.
This Divine Severity not reclaiming the two remaining Tribes from their Idolatries, and other great Wickedness, they were carried Captive to Babylon, their Temple deftroyed, and their Countrey laid defolate; and being restored after feventy Years Captivity, they foon fell into many great Impieties, and at laft filled up the Measure of their Iniquities, by rejecting and crucifying the Meffiah the Lord of Glory, and perfecuting his Difciples.
The proper Ufe which I conceive is to be made upon the reading these tragick Stories, is to confider that Righteoufnefs exalteth a Nation, but Sin is a Reproach to any People, and that the Dominion of the Almighty in the World has been, and is now the fame as it was then, for that which hath been is now, and that which is to be hath already been; which is clearly stated by Sir Walter Rawleigh in his excellent Preface, wherein is the following Obfervation.
"I will examine, fays he, what Profit hath been "gathered by our own Kings, and their Neighbouring "Princes, who having beheld both in Divine and
humane Letters the Succefs of Infidelity, Injustice and Cruelty, have notwithstanding planted after the fame Pattern. But the Judgments of God are for ever unchangeable, neither is he wearied by the long procefs of Time, nor wont to give his Bleffing in one Age to that which he hath curfed in another: Therefore thofe that are wife, will be a"ble to difcern the bitter Fruits of Irreligious Policy,
as well among thofe Examples that are found in Ages removed far from the prefent, as in thofe of latter
"latter Times". And of which he gives many In ftances from the Hiftory of the Kings of England and other Nations.
If the Hiftory of the Hebrew and Chriftian Church be compared, there feems to be a very near Refemblance between them, as may appear in the following Inftances.
The Hebrews, notwithstanding their long and cruel Oppreffions in Egypt, and the many Attempts to deftroy them, yet grew, and multiplied exceedingly; in which State of Servitude they continued a bove three hundred Years.
The Chriftian Church was, for above three hundred Years cruelly harafs'd, and perfecuted both by Jews and Gentiles, the whole Power of the Roman Empire in vain attempting by cruel Torments and Perfecutions to extirpate Chriftianity: But the Primitive Chriftians, being endued with a Divine Fortitude, triumph'd over all the Rage and Power of their Enemies, fo that the Blood of the Martyrs became the Seed of the Church, which was planted in all Parts of the Roman Empire?"
The Ifraelites being put into the Poffeffion of the Land of Canaan, foon after Joshua's Death fell into thofe Idolatries and other Impieties, for which the Canaanites were extirpated.
The Emperor Conftantine having embraced Chriftianity, became not only the Protector of the Chriftians, but endowed the Church with great Riches. What Influence this had upon the Clergy, appeared before the Death of this great Emperor, who was forced to call a General Council to put a Stop to the Arian Herefy, which (though fuppreffed for a Time) was revived in the Time of his Son and Succeffor Conftantius, who became a moft virulent Perfecutor, and too many of the Ecclefiafticks became the great Promoters of this Herefy and Perfecution.
This Damnable Herefy of denying the Lord that