A SIGHT OF CHRIST THE DESIRE AND DELIGHT OF SAINTS IN ALL AGES.*
you» nil. 56.-—Your father Abraham rejoiced, [earnestly desired] to see my day; and he saw it, and was glad.
WHEN we see the crowd, the unthinking majority of mankind in our day, neglect the Lord Jesus, we see nothing new. This neglect is indeed stupid, ungrateful, criminal, and extremely affecting and lamentable ; but in this respect as well as others, there is no new thing under the sun. The blessed Jesus has been despised and rejected of men, in every age, ever since sin first entered into the world, and raised enmity against him in the mind of man.
But, blessed be God, such excellency has attracted love and admiration in every age. He has been loved and adored, not. only by the angels who know him best, and are spectators of his glory in his native heaven, where he keeps his court in conspicuous splendour, but also by some poor sinners of the race of man. in every period of time, since his glory first dawned upon the world in that early promise, The seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent's head. Gen. iii. 15. John and his cotemporary christians. who lived upon earth when the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among men, beheld his glory, God-like glory, as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. John i. 14. In these dregs of time, when iniquity abounds, and the love of many waxes cold, there are some, nay, there are many scattered here and there through the world, who believe in and love an unseen Saviour; and, while they believe and love, rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory. 1 Pet. i 8. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob also, and all the pious patriarchs, who lived in the early dawn of the gospellight, looked forward with eager eyes to the promised and expected rising of the Sun of righteousness. His beams were but faintly reflected upon them ; yet they could distinguish his light from that of every inferior luminary. They foresaw some illustrious personage, superior to themselves, and all the ordinary messen
• Sacramental Sermon.
gers of God, about to appear in the world; and though it does not appear to me that they distinctly knew who he should be, or what should be the peculiarities of his office, and how he should perform it,* yet Ihey expected him under the welcome character of a Deliverer, and that in some way which divine wisdom would appoint he should bring salvation to penitent sinners. .Thus Jesus congratulates his disciples upon their peculiar privilege, above the best men of the preceding times : Blessed are your eyes, for they see : and your ears, for they hear : for verity I say unto you, that many firofihets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them: and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them. Matt. xiii. 16, 17. Their desiring to hear and see these things, which the gospel reveals, implies that they had some general imperfect knowledge of them; for there can be no desire at all of a thing entirely unknown : but their knowledge was indistinct and obscure, and not satisfactory to their pious curiosity. Therefore, as St. Peter informs us, the prophets did not fully understand their own prophecies, but inquired and searched diligently concerning the salvation and grace now brought to us ; searching what, or what manner of time the Sfiirit of Christ, which was in them, did signify, when it testified beforehand of the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow; to whom it was revealed, that not they,■ but we, should fully enjoy the advantage of their own firofihecies, or that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things which are now refiorted unto you, by them that have fireached the gosfiel unto you, with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things, not only the prophets, but even the angels of heaven, those superior intelligences, desire to look into and study. 1 Pet. i. 10—12.
To the same purpose St. Paul speaks concerning Abraham, Noah, and the other pious patriarchs: These all died in faith, not having received the firomises; that is, the accomplishment of .them, but having seen them afar off, and were fiersuaded of them,
* It is evident, that the apostles before Christ's resurrection, though they enjoyed the light not only of the ancient types, promises, and prophecies, but also of many instructions from his own lips, yet were ignorant of his death and resurrection, the nature and extent of his kingdom, and many other important peculiarities of the gospel. And much more so, may we suppose, were the prophets and good men of ancient times Several great divines have, I think, represented their faith as much more particular and distinct than it appears to have been.
and embraced them; that is, they saw by faith, though afar of at the distance of thousands of years, the blessings contained m those early promises, particularly that great, all-comprehendui? blessing, the Messiah ; and were persuaded they would be fulfilled in due time, and embraced them with eager affection and confidence, as their highest hope and happiness.
This is the influence which even the faint discorery of* Saviour had upon good men many ages ago ; but St. Paul tells us, whose privilege it was to live in gospel-day, that Ood hat finvided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be wade perfect. Heb xi. 13, 40 : for us he hath provided the clear revelation of the gospel; and shall not this have a proportionable influence upon us I We should at least be as much affected with these things as Abraham, who was far inferior to us in external advantages ; and how Abraham was affected, we are told by Jesus himsell in the text: Abraham rejoiced to see my day; and hesavU, and was glad.
The Jews, in the context, are pleading the cause of their own pride and self-confidence, against some just reflections which Christ had made upon them. When he insinuates that they were slaves to sin, and therefore stood in need of freedom from him, they resent it as a scandalous imputation, intolerable to a people so proud and tenacious of their liberty ; and either not understanding in "what sense he meant they were slaves, or imagining that they could not be the servants of sin, who were the natural descendants ol Abraham, they think to defend themselves by pleading, We are Abraham's seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, yc shall be made free? I cannot see how they could have made good this assertion; for they had been in bondage to the Babylonians, the Syrians, and the Greeks, and were then in subjection to the Roman empire; but what is there so false or absurd, but men will plead in their own defence, when once they have renounced the gospel? Jesus, in his answer, tells them, that the dispute at present was not, who was their natural father? but, who was their father in a moral sense? And be lays down this principle, upon which to settle their moral genealogy, namely, that they were his children, whom they resembled in temper and practice. Now they did not resemble Abraham, much less God, whom they also called their Father; and therefore they were not the children of Abraham, or of God, in such a sense as to be free from slavery to sin; which was the sense
then under consideration: but they resembled the devil in doing his lusts unci particularly in their love of falsehood, and enmity to truth : and therefore, says he, Ye are of your father the devil. In the progress of t&e debate, the Jews were offended, because Christ insinuated that he was greater than Abraham and the prophets. And my text may be considered as referring both to this and the former argument. As referring to the last, it may be thus understood : " Abraham himself was sensible how much I am superior to him; for he rejoiced at the distant sight of my day, when a much greater Person than he should appear upon the stage ol the world, from whom himself, as well as his posterity, and all nations of the earth, should receive the most important blessings." As referring to the former, the meaning may be: "You cannot be the genuine children of Abraham, in the sense sow under consideration; for you are not at all like him. You live in my day, and yet rejoice not in it; but he earnestly desired a sight of it, and rejoiced in the sight, though faint and afar off. His disposition and yours towards roe, are entirely different, and therefore you cannot be his true spiritual children." Thus, in both these views, the text contains a conclusive argument in vindication of Jesus Christ, and in confutation of his enemies.
Your father Abraham rejoiced to tee my day. The day of Christ primarily signifies the time when he appeared in the flesh, and conversed with men. So the days of John the Baptist, the days of Noah, Sec. signify the time when John the Baptist and Noah lived upon earth. Matt. xi. 12, and chap. xxiv. 37- But we are to consider the Lord Jesus as coming into the world under a public character; that is, as a Saviour of sinners, and as the improver of the Mosaic and patriarchal religion, by the introduction of the gospel dispensation; and therefore the day of Christ, which Abraham desired to see, must signify the time when he should appear upon earth as a great prophet, to make a more perfect revelation of the will of God; the time when he should offer the great propitiatory sacrifice for the sins of the world, of which the sacrifices of former dispensations were but types and shadows; the time when he should receive dominion, glory, and a kingdom from the ancient of days, which should not be confined to the Jews alone, but extend to all fieofilr, nations, and languages, Dan vii 14, or, in other words, the time when tin: great radical promise to Abraham should be fulfilled, That in hit teed all the nation* of the earth should be blessed. vol. ii. 52
Gen. xxii. 18. The time when the dispensation of the gospel should be set up in its full glory, the most perfect dispensation of religion on this side heaven; which is not to give way to another, like tnat of Moses, but to continue to the end of the world. This is the illustrious day here intended: and according to this explication, you see it includes not only the time of Christ's appearance upon earth, but also the whole space from that time to the end of the world, or the whole time of the gospel dispensation. This is a long and glorious day, and in this day it is our happy lot to Kve. Abraham would have thought himself happy to live in the same age with us: He would rather have lived in Hanover* than in Canaan with all his riches; and would rather have been a member of our church, than the great patriarch of the Jewish church. ,.
The time of Christ's appearance upon earth, and of the gospel dispensation introduced by him, may be called a day, not only in conformity to the usual language of scripture, in which the time of a person's life, the duration of a thing, or the time allotted for any business, is called a day, though it should contain many hundreds or thousands of natural days; I say, it may be called a day, not only on this account, but also to intimate, that it is a season of light to the moral world, a season when the Sun of Righteousness shines upon this benighted earth, pierces the glooms of ignorance -that covered it, and brings the deepest mysteries to light ; a season, when the perfections of the divine nature, the way of pardon and acceptance for obnoxious mankind, the wonders of the unseen world, and the things that belong to oar peace, are displayed in full splendour. The night of heathen darkness, and the twilight of the Abrahamic and Mosaic dispensation, kindle into day, wherever the gospel shines. Abraham lived in the twilight or early dawn; and therefore, says Christ, he desired to nee my day. It is translated he rejoiced to see my day ; and it must be owned, this is the usual sense of the original word ;t but this cannot be its meaning here, for this would
* The name of a county in Virginia, where this sermon was preached.
t iyxXXida-cclt—Since y**AA<5««<, which is commonly used metaphorically, and signifies to exult or leap for joy, literally signifies to leap, why may it not be understood literally without a metaphor in this place! As if be he had said; "Abraham leaped up, he raised himself like one endeavouring to catch a glance of some distant object, that he might see the distant gleamings of Christ's day."— But this new criticism I only hint, and submit it to examination.
The editor of these Discourses of Mr. Davies, thinks it not improper to subjoin a criticism upon this word from Mr. Anthony Blackwall. "1 make a needless tautology with the last part of the verse, he tvas S"tad. To rejoice and to be glad, is the same thing ; but it would hardly be sense to say, Abraiiam rejoiced to see my day, and he saiv it and rejoiced. Besides, to rejoice that he might see, seems absurd; for his rejoicing could not be to the end that he might see, but because he did see. I therefore conclude the word here must signify a strong transport of desire, and should be rendered, "your father Abraham earnestly desired that he might see my day; he wished to live in an age when Christ and the gospel should be fully revealed. From the dawn, he looked forward -with eager desire to see the sun rising, and the heavenly day shining around him, revealing to his view those lovely prospects which were then wrapt in darkness. He longed to see that illustrious personage springing from his seed," in whom all nations should be blessed, "and who was his Lord and Saviour, as well as his Son."
Nor was his desire in vain: for Jesus adds, he saw it; that is, my day. His desire was granted, and he was favoured with the sight he longed for. But here it may be queritd, " how, or in what sense, could Abraham be said to see Christ's day, since he died so long before his appearance in the flesh i To this sundry answers have been given, particularly, 1. That he saw Christ's day by faith in the promises given him, of the accomplishment of which he was confident; and this confidence inspired him with joy. Faith, says the apostle, is the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen, Heb. jci. 1, and such was Abraham's faith in the promise of a Messiah.. He saw his day by faith, and was persuaded of his certain appearance, and embraced him, as though he had been then in the reach of his arms. 2. Abraham might be said to see the day of Christ in that strange transaction, the offering up of his own son Isaac. This is the most striking typical representation, I think, which we
beg my reader's leave, says be, to propose one conjecture, by putting down mrtiLKKuuifUUl as a peculiarity in St. John, signifying to desire with vehemence. And this sense aifixed to it, which is not strained or unnatural, will solve what seems to me to be a gross tautology in our translation. It is this, "he rejoiced to see my day, and saw it, and was glad ;" that is, he was glad to see my day, and saw it, and so was glad..—In this signification it runs easy and clean, he earnestly wished or desired to see my day, and saw it and rejoiced. The Persian, Syriac, and Arabic versions •II give it this sense, and the particle 1t* in the original, seems to require it—It is a very natural matonymy, whereby antecedents and consequents are put for each other." "Sacred Classics, Vol. i. p. 35, 36.
find in the whole Bible, of the manner in which the world should be redeemed by Jesus Christ; namely, by human sacrifice, and by God's making his own Son a propitiatory sacrifice, as Abraham was commanded to offer up his; and probably this seemingly hard and unnatural trial was imposed upon him, a* a peculiar favour, that he might see by a significant action, what he so earnestly longed to see, the manner of man's redemption. This welcome sight heprooably bad upon mount Moriah, where he went to offer up his only Son. And the inscription he, as it were, left upon that mount, may intimate thus much. In the mount of the Lord it (that is, the day of Christ) shall be seen. Gen. xxii. 14. This may also be St. Paul's meaning, when he says, Abraham received Isaac from the dead in a figure, or typical representation, which plainly pre-signified to him the resurrection of Christ from the dead, without a figure ; that is literally, alter he had been actually sacrificed for the sins of men.* This appears to me as probable a sense as any. Yet 3. Perhaps it may mean, that when Jehovah appeared to Abraham in human form ; and familiarly conversed with him, it was a prelude to his incarnation, and gave him a clear idea of the day of Christ's actual appearance in the flesh.
But in whatever sense he saw it, it was a very welcome and joyful sight to him ; for Jesus farther tells us, he saw if, and wa» glad. Light is sweet; but no light was so sweet to Abraham's eyes as that of the day of the Son of Man, He saw him not as Simeon, when he took him in his arms, and wished that he might never take up any thing else, but depart in peace from this world of sin and sorrow; but Abraham saw him in such a light, as to fill his heart with joy and gladness, though only through die medium of faith, and not of sense.
These remarks may suffice to explain the text, as it refers to this patriarch: but it is your personal advantage I aim at, and therefore I shall make some reflections upon it, as it may be accommodated to you: and the reflections are such as these:
* Heb. xi. 19. Dr. Warburton in bis Divine Legation, offers so many plausible things in favour of this sense, that I think it has some considerable appearance of probability. And thus he and WohHus apply thcirtext urging that w x*p*£c\ii, answers to *nd signifies a typical representation. The word ic*i prefixed, xai it r*ptti&n, which shews there is a particular stress to be laid upon >» ar*p«/3oA>i, confirms this exposition: as if he had said, " he received him from the dead, not only as he narrowly escaped death, but also in a figure ; that is, as a figure or type of something future.'r
That the dispensation of the gospel may be called a bright and illustrious day:
That it is a day which good men under former dispensations earnestly desired a siu'litof:
That good men earnestly desire clear discoveries of Jesus Christ, and his gospel:
That these desires shall be accomplished: and, That the accomplishment of them affords great joy. 1. The dispensation of the gospel may be called a bright and illustrious day.
When John the Baptist the forerunner of Christ, was born, the morning-star arose, or, as his father Zacharias expresses ih The-day spring from on high visited us. Jesus is the Sun of righteousness, Mai. iv. 2.; the Light of the world, John viii. 12, and chapter xii. 46; a light to lighten Gentiles, and the glory of his fieofile Israel, Luke ii. 32. ; and when he made his appearance in the world, then we are told, The fieofile that sat in darkness saw great light; and to them who sat in the region and shadow of death, light sfirung ufi. Matt. iv. 16. To carry on the metaphor with uniformity the gospel is called the day of salvation, 2 Cor. vi. 2. the light, 2 Cor. iv 4. a marvellous light, 1 Pet. ii. 9. a true light shining, when the darkness is past, I John ii. 8. and christians are said to be light, Eph. v. 8.—the children of the light and the day. 1 Thess. v. 5. *
There is good reason for the use of this significant metaphorical language ; for as the day discovers the fair face of nature, and opens her lovely prospects to view, which were unseen while covered with darkness, so the gospel reveals the perfections of Cod, the wonderful scheme of Providence, the beauties of holiness, the nature of true religion, the duty of man in all its extent, the wonders of the scheme of redemption through Jesus Christ and the method in which obnoxious sinners of the race of man may be reconciled to God, the prospects of life and immortality, and the important realities of the eternal world. All these are brought to light by the gospel, after they had long been concealed, or seen but faintly through the glimmering light of reason in the heathen, or the typical or prophetical revelation of the Mosaic dispensation.
The gospel day, like a light shining in a dark place, pierces the darkness of the human heart, reveals the mysteries of iniquity, and the depths of Satan there, and discovers sin in all its native deformities. This penetrating light, when enforced by his power who first commanded the light to shine out of darkness, has flashed conviction upon many a secure conscience, and opened the most surprising discoveries to many a blind mind. The gospel, like clear day-light, shews us the way of duty and happiness, for which the world had long groped in darkness, so that now we may walk in it without stumbling; for if any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light.—John xi. 9, 10.
Divine things are not only brought to light by the gospel, but also represented in the most amiable and engaging view ; especially when there is not only a clear medium without, but the organ of spiritual vision, the mind, is rectified so as to be able to perceive those objects in this medium. If we should suppose a man had spent twenty years of his life in darkness, and never seen nature about him in that lovely and magnificent view in which it appears through the medium of light, and should he be suddenly brought into the light, how would he be overwhelmed with delightful astonishment at the first sight of the uerse.— What amazing prospects, what new and glorious wonders would open to his eyes! How different would the face of nature appear from the view he had of it while an inhabitant of darkness ! Thus is the sinner surprised, when not only the gospel shines round him, but his mind is also enlightened to view divine things in that heavenly light. Then, as St. Peter expresses it, he is brought out of darkness into God's marvellous light, 1 Pet. ii. 9. a light that represents the most marvellous things to his astonished sight. Then in what a new and glorious light does the great God appear, and all the truths revealed in the gospel! What new and surprising views has he of himself, of sin, and of the eternal world ! all is real, interesting and affecting! O! my brethren, have you ever been introduced into this marvellous light? or are you, like the birds of night, lovers and inhabitants of darkness still?
Again, In that darkness which overspread the world before the introduction of Christianity, the wicked spirits of hell, like beasts of prey, roamed this wilderness and discovered great power in their oracles, in possessing the bodies of men, &c But when the gospel shone upon the world in its meridian glory, then these terrors of the night fled to their den, and could no more roam at large, as they had done.
3'he day is the time for work and action: so the gospel day is the season to work out our salvation. It is not a time for sleep and sloth, but for labour and action. This is the accefued time; t/tiis is the day of salvation.
This, my brethren, is the glorious and blessed day in which we live. Let us therefore inquire, Are we the children of the light and of the day? For this purpose inquire, whether it is day within, as well as without ? that is, whether your minds have been divinely enlightened within, as the light of the gospel shines round you without? Is not that sacred light to some of you like the sun to a blind man? that is, it makes day without him, but all is dark to him, and he sees nothing! Are there not some of you blind to the glory of God in the gospel, to the evil of sin, and the great realities of the eternal world! The light shines indeed, but it shines in a thick malignant darkness, that comprehends it not; a darkness impenetrable even to the bright beams of the Sun of Righteousness. Is not your heart a dungeon of darkness, where the vilest lusts crawl, like toads and serpents? Do you not hate the light, and refuse to come into the light, lest your evil deeds should be reproved? Do you not practise the works of darkness, works that will not bear the public view, much less the examination of the supreme tribunal ? Have you ever beheld the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, the glory of the Word made flesh, and dwelling among men, ai the glory of the only begotten of the Father■j full of grace and truth? O ! have you ever seen how lovely, how suitable, and how glorious that Saviour is, who is revealed in the gospel? I beg you would put these questions home to your hearts, that you may know whether you are the children of the light, or whether you are in darkness even until now.
If you have hitherto chosen darkness rather than light, remember, the gospel, which has lighted many a pilgrim to heaven, will only shew you the way to hell, and bring you, as it were, to a more horrible precipice, from whence you will fall with the greater violence into the pit. If you perish from under the gospel, it will be with a peculiarly aggravated destruction. Tofihet hat keen firefiared of old y and, like a furnace always supplied, it has been heating more and more for thousands of years, and now under the gospel, it is heated more than ever; and the hottest place there is reserved for you, if you still resist the light, and continue in darkness. O! remember who it was that made that awful declaration, This is the condemnation; that is, this is the occasion of the most aggravated condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men love darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil. John iii. 19. If the gosfiel be hid, it is only to them that are lost. 2 Cor. iv. 3. ..... , ...•.., L../
But I doubt not but sundry of you not only have day without, but within you: Gid, who commanded light to shine out of darkness, has shinrd in your hearts, to give you the light of the knowledge of his glory in the face of Jesus Christ. Blessed are your eyes, for they see. And O! what affecting sights have they seen 1 what vileness and deformity in sin ! and what beauty in holiness! what corruption and depravity in yourselves, and what glory and excellency in God! what meanness and unworthiness in yourselves, and what loveliness, what all-perfect righteousness, with attractive glory in Jesus Christ! what vanity in this world, and what reality and importance in the world to come! Well, this day is but the dawn of immortal day, which you shall enjoy ia heaven. Vou are children of light, and you are hastening to that world, where God himself shall be your light, and there shall be no more night. Therefore, walk as the children of light, and lei your light so shine before men, that they, by seeing your good work*, may glorify your Father w/iich is in heaven. ....■ i- . /I
Bless God that the gospel shines around you, and opens such discoveries to your view. To-day it shews you a feast of fat things for hungry souls ; it shews you that strange sight, which struck all nature with horror, when it first appeared; I mean the Son of God hanging on a cross, and expiring there for guilty men. This ordinance is a bright ray of evangelical light; and it helps you to see the love and agonies of Jesus, the great atonement he made for sin, and the method of your pardon and salvation—Come then, ye children of light, come and gaze, and wonder at these astonishing sights!
Again, Since it is day-time with us, let us shake off slumber, and rise to work. Awake to righteousness, sinners! Awake, and call upon God, and betake yourselves to work; to the important, but long delayed and neglected work of salvation. The night of death is coming, when no man can work : Then the Sun of righteousness will be set, and the day of the gospel be over, as to you; and the Lord will cause darkness, and your feet will stumble on the dark mountains, and the shadows of the everlasting night shall be stretched out over your heads. Now, therefore, rise, and do the work of life: do it now, in this your day ; or it must remain forever undone. And ye, who are the children of the light, abound in the work of the Lord, while your day lasts. Never let him find you idle, but always busy in doing good. Do not you sleep, as do others; but watch and be sober. God has distinguished you with his grace, above thousands of his eminent servants ; and this lays you under peculiar obligations of duty to him :—Which leads me to add,
II That the dispensation of the gospel is a day, which good men under former dispensations earnestly desired a sight of.
The most that they generally knew was, that religion should be much improved, and the world receive great advantage, by some illustrious person that should arise ;—and they desired themselves to share in that improvement and advantage. They had a general persuasion that God was reconcileable ; but, O! to know the person by whom, and the manner in which this reconciliation was to be brought about! They had many intimations that it was to be brought about by sacrifice, or the offering up the innocent for the guilty ; but they wanted nearer views of this great mystery. They had ordinances of worship divinely instituted; but these were so expensive, burdensome, and comparatively carnal, that it is no wonder they looked forward with eager eyes to the time of reformation, when a more easy, spiritual and noble method of worship would be introduced: they hoped for happiness beyond the grave, and believed a future state of rewards and punishments; but the sanctions of the dispensations under Which they lived, consisted so much in temporal rewards and punishments, as to render those of the world to come less clear and affecting.—No wonder then they longed for gospel day, by which life alone and immortality are brought fully to light, and all doubts and suspicions entirely removed. In short, so much darkness, uncertainty and perplexity, attended many things of great importance, that are now clearly revealed, that it was natural and Unavoidable for every good man that was concerned to please God, and enjoy his favour, to desire farther satisfaction, and look forward with eager eyes to the rising Sun, which should cast a divine light upon these interesting secrets.
Now this happiness, which they so ardently desired, we enjoy: and shall we make light of it, and neglect to improve our peculiar privileges? How would Abraham have rejoiced to hear what we hear this day, and sit down at the sacred table, which is now prepared for us! And shall we dare to nettlec'. it, or attend upon it in a languid, careless, irreverent manner! Abraham would VOL. II. 53
have willingly exchanged his personal converse with Jehovah, and all his privileges as the patriarch of the Jewish church, for the privilege of the meanest christian among us. And shall not we esteem and improve what he esteemed so very highly, and longed lor so ardently ! Brethren, if we do not all crowd into heaven in a body, it is our own fault in a peculiar degree. Our external advantages for religion are greater than those of Abraham, the friend of God ; than those of Moses, who conversed with him/ace to/ace, as a man with Ms friend; of David, the roan after God's own heart; and of the many thousands that entered the gates of heaven, before Jesus left it to make his appearance in our world. And did they obtain salvation by a Redeemer so little known, and shall any of us perish, when he is so clearly revealed to us, and so explicitly proposed to our acceptance? God forbid! Whatever became of sinners in Canaan, or Greece, or Rome, where they had prophets or philosophers, but no Jesus to shew them the path of life, O ! let sinners in Hanover press into the kingdom of heaven. For shame, let them seek salvation, lest Jews and heathens, and all the world, rise up in judgment against them. But I observed from the text, .»
III. That good men earnestly desire clear discoveries of Christ and his gospel.
This was not peculiar to Abraham and the Old Testament saints, but it is common to all good men in all ages and countries: and if you belong to their number, this is your disposition. O ! how you long to know more of Jesus, and dive deeper into the mysteries of his gospel! How are you mortified and grieved for your ignorance! And how sweet is every beam of heavenly light, that breaks in upon your minds, and discovers more of the glory of Christ to you, and the wonders of his gospel! This was your end (was it not ?) in coming hither to-day j and for this end you intend to sit down at his table, even that you may see the Lord Jesus in an advantageous point of view by faith, and be more charmed with his glories? Is not this what you desire and long for? Well, for your comfort, I can assure you, (
IV. That these desires shall be accomplished.
Abraham desired to see Christ's day, and he saw it: his desires were fulfilled. And he was not the only one to whom divine veracity performed its promise, and divine goodness bestowed its bounties. No, the same blessing has been conferred upon every soul, in every age and country, that, like him, earnestly desired Jesus Christ. This desire pre-supposes a deep senst of our guilt and depravity, and of our inability to make atonement for our Bin, or to sanctify our nature, and prepare ourselves lor heaven, that region of perfect holiness: and it also implies a general conviction of the glory and excellency of Jesus Christ, and his suitableness to our case. Desires proceeding from such a sense of conviction, are lively and operative, and will set us in action to obtain the thing desired. They are not lazy inactive desires, which persons profess, and yet remain all the day idle, and never exert their utmost strength in earnest endeavours to obtain an interest in Christ, as their supreme good and highest happiness. Such active desires are connected with the promises of eternal veracity, which almighty power will certainly perform. Therefore, fear not, ye that seek Jesus who was crucified. You shall not always pine away with hungry, eager desires and pointings for him, but your utmost wishes shall be accomplished, in the enjoyment of the good you desire. And if ever you have had any experience in this case, I need hardly tell you,
V. That the accomplishment of these desires affords great joy.
Abraham had his desire of seeing Christ's day fulfilled ; and it inspired him with joy: he saw it and was glad. How transporting, to view the glory of God shining in the gospel! to contemplate the love, the grace, and all-sufficient fulness of Jesus! to feel the lively emotions of proper affections towards him, and all those heavenly exercises of mind, which attend the sight of Jesus Christ in the gospel! What is heaven, but the day of Christ ; a brighter day indeed, but enlightened by the same sun that shines in the gospel ; the glory of God enlightens it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. Rev. xxi. 23. Therefore as much as you enjoy of this sacred light, so much of heaven do you enjoy on earth.
And now, to conclude— You have heard of Jesus Christ, and of the disposition of Abraham, and all good men towards him. But is not this all mystery and unintelligible talk to some of you? You never have experienced any thing like it. And can you expect salvation from a neglected unknown Saviour! Or are you able to save yourselves without him ! Alas ! both are impossible. Therefore, my brethren, this day admit the conviction of your guilt and danger, be thoroughly convinced of your own unworthipess of salvation by natural means, or the guidance of your own
wisdom, pray earnestly for spiritual help from above, in and through a glorious and all-powerful Mediator, and never be easy till you get out of darkness into day.
As for the children of light, let them surround the table of their Lord, and there place themselves under the warm enlivening beams of the Sun of righteousness.