Изображения страниц

days, when the morning began to dawn, the gospel was preached in Naphtali, by Christ himself. There likewise were some of the ac postles born, who are called princes of Naphtali, Psal. Ixviii. 27. They were swift as hinds in proclaiming the goodly words of the gospel. We may add, that in Naphtali, the great light began to beam forth, even before it shone on Judah's tribe.

JOSEPH, increase or addilion. The blessing of Joseph is more remarkable than that of any of tlie tribes, Judah excepted. Nor are we to suppose that this proceeds in any degree from his father's partiality: had this been in any way concerned, the blessing of Benjamin, which we have yet to consider, would have been very different. Joseph's blessing differs in this from all of them, that it has a retrospect to what has passed, as connected with those things to come. In the other we find the literal fulfilment, perhaps fully more strongly marked, but the glorious antitype of Joseph appears prominent in every sentence of this blessing. Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well, whose branches run over the wall.' This was literally fulfilled in his numerous progeny: from him proceeded two tribes, and one of them a correct figure, as we have seen, of the multitude of the nations. In this he represented that blessed one from whom the whole church of God, Jew and Gentile, springs. He is indeed a fruitful bough, or, as the Psalmist says, a cast of corn in the earth, which shakes with fruit, like Lebanon. Sorely did the archers grieve and shoot at Joseph, but his bow abode in strength, and his arms were made strong by the God of Jacob, who is the shepherd and stone of Israel. We have been led, in glancing through Joseph's history, to see how much more justly these words may be referred to Joseph's Lord. Beholding his sufferings, when the arrows of Satan were directed against him in the house and power of darkness, we see the archers grieving him ; let us behold him raised from the dead by the glory of the fathers, and we shall see how his hands were 'made strong by the God of Jacob, the shepherd, and stone of Israel. We consider our translation as misleading by the expression from thence : we may be well assured that the shepherd and stone of Israel are terms which can be applied to none other than the Great Shepherd of the sheep, who was raised from the dead by the blood of the everlasting covenant. Now, he sprang not from Jo. seph, but he was the strengthener of Joseph's hands amidst all his sufferings. When he is called the Shepherd of Israel, the reader will remember the repeated words of the God of Jacob to him. . I will keep thee in all places,' &c. When he is called the stone of Israel, we are immediately led to that stone in Bethel which Jacob took for his pillow (the supporter of his head) and which he anointed. Jacob then adds, the God of thy father, who shall bless thee with blessings of heaven above,' &c. We have the temporal part of the blessing of Joseph more fully expressed in the blessing of Moses, Deut. xxxiii.; and as to it, we shall only say, that we have no cause to suppose

that one good thing failed of all that was promised to him in this respect. But considering it in its spiritual aspect, we have here set before As the blessings with which the Beloved Son of the Highest is now


blessed for evermore. Joseph was the nazir, that is, the separated one of his brethren. Here is the first notice, of what was afterwards more fully pointed out in the Nazaritish vow, which will fall to be afterwards considered.

BENJAMIN, the son of the right hand. Having shared so largely in his father's parental regard, he perhaps expected a more distinguished blessing. There is nothing however said of him, but merely that he should be a warlike tribe ; and as we find he held by Judah, in all their exploits, so he shared with him in the spoil. We find the warlike disposition of this tribe on many occasions very particularly noticed, such as Judges xx. 18. His ravening from morning to evening, must apply to the morning and evening of the Jewish state. This blessing of Benjamin was remarkably applicable to Paul's personal history, which is no faint allegory of that of the Jewish nation. In the morning, Saul blasphemed and persecuted, ravening like a wolf ; but in the evening he divided the spoil between Jews and Gentiles.

This chapter gives a very interesting account of his later moments. It is impossible to conceive a more quiet returning to the dust, than these words convey to the mind ; ' He gathered up his feet into the bed, and yielded up the ghost, and was gathered unto his fathers.' Here is a specimen of dying in the faith. Viewing the tranquillity of this scene, we may cry out, death, where is thy sting, O grave, where is thy victory.'' Here is a disciple and follower of Him of whom it is said, “ Mark the perfect, and behold the upright man; for surely of that man the latter end is peace.

CHAP. L.-Joseph's affection for his father is most pathetically set before us ; and here it may be remarked, that throughout the whole scriptures, the highest respect is paid to the ties of nature. • Without natural affection,' is ranked among the awful crimes of the later days. The gospel unhinges none of those endearing ties, which form the chief comforts of man in this vale of tears. The Christian sorrows not, as those without hope, but he follows his Lord to the grave of Lazarus, and weeps. The body is embalmed by physicians, a custom which took its rise from the hope of the resurrection. When the poor woman anointed our Lord himself, he said, she had done so for his burial, and that wherever the gospel was preached, this which the woman had done should be mentioned as a memorial of her. When the woman came to the grave of Jesus in the morning of the first day of the week, they brought sweet spices with them. The custom of anointing the body for burial, was prevalent among the Jews, and had a strong connection with faith in Him whose body saw no corruption. Joseph proceeds to fulfil his dying father's request, and bury him in Canaan, when also in a few years his own bones were carried. Their fear for their brother's revenge is a fine picture of the language of guilt in the conscience, while Joseph's reply is no less expressive of the genuine spirit of the gospel of the grace of God.

We have now finished a very hasty and summary glance through the book of Genesis,-a book which contains a most wonderful display of the progress of the gospel for the first 2400 years of the world. Keep Christ and him crucified out of view, and there can scarcely be conceived a single reason for its having a place in the sacred volume ; consider Him as the great object in all recorded in it, and this book may be regarded as a precious repository indeed. That glorious truth, on which the hopes of guilty man has depended in all ages, is indeed the INTRODUCTORY Key to this storehouse, which, like the precious stone, sparkles with refulgence whatever way you turn it. We have hinted at some leading and prominent circumstances ; but the ground is scarcely uncovered. Dig deep and carefully ; the mine is inexhaustible ; your labour will be amply repaid. We are exhorted to become followers of those, who through faith and patience are now inheriting the promises. If we study the biography of Genesis, we shall find a number of conspicuous characters introduced; but for what end? Is it to leave patterns of heroism, courage, military prowess, or even what men call the cardinal virtues ? No ;-through faith they all obtained a good report. A great conqueror, such as Nimrod, is dispatched in a single sentence ; but a believer of the truth as it is in Jesus, is followed through the steps of his faith.

We have professedly two great objects in view; and it remains for our readers to deterinine how far either, or both of them, have been attained as to the book of Genesis :- 1. To demonstrate that the Old. Testament scriptures are a mirror, intended to exhibit, as in a glass, the glory of the person and work of Christ. 2. That the infidel and despiser of the Old Testament, have only found their shafts of enmity and ridicule in any degree successful, from ignorance and er

May we be permitted to add, that many zealous friends of revelation, have failed in attempting to defend her, by mistaking the rock on which she stands. Remembering that the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of all prophecy,' Wisdom will be easily justified in her words, as well as in her children.



Of the Book of Exodus.

CHAP. I.-The word Exodus signifies going forth; and this book is so called, because it narrates the events which preceded and at. tended the Exodus, or going forth of Israel from Egypt, the house of their bondage. When Moses and Elias appeared with Christ on the mount of transfiguration, they talked of his Exodus, (in the English version it is called decease), which he should accomplish at Jerusalem. That decease paved the way for the Exodus of all the spiritual Israel of God. But we have the most plain and indubitable evidence, that this whole history has a direct reference to the exodus of the church of God from her antichristian foes ; her journey through the wilderness of this world ; and the abundant entrance which shall be administered to her into the everlasting kingdom of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ.

This book opens with another register of the twelve sons of Jacob, which were the seed from which the Old Testament Church sprung, the counterpart of the twelve apostles, and of the twelve gates of the New Jerusalem. These genealogical lists served to keep the tribes distinct, and to prove the descent of the Messiah, agreeably to scripture prophecy. But as there was much profit in circumcision for merly, and to the seed of Abraham only were the promises given, these registers serve to remind of the Lamb’s book of life, where the names of the living in Jerusalem are enrolled. And of Zion it shall be said, This and that man was born in her, and the Highest himself shall establish her: the Lord shall count, when he writeth up the people, that this man was born there,' Psalm lxxxvii. 5, 6. We are next told, that the children of Israel multiplied exceedingly; which will remind of the time when multitudes, both of men and women, believed ;' when the seed of the twelve apostles, among the Gentiles, increased abundantly. A new king arose in Egypt, who knew not Joseph, and persecuted his brethren. This has been the true source of persecution in all ages,-ignorance of Joseph. The protection which had been given to Israel

appeared foolish


and they determined to deal wisely, &c. Motives of policy have always been urged as the strongest reason for persecuting Christianity, although in this respect worldly politics have generally erred, as Chris


tians make the best subjects. This new king, Pharaoh, is a fine fi. gure of the worldly persecuting power, which Satan exercised in the souls of men, or over their consciences. This power appeared in its most powerful influence in Rome, or Antichrist, which is hence call. ed Spiritual Egypt, Rev. xi. 8. Indeed this power may be considered as appearing, wherever men have presumed to lay any task as bind. ing on the conscience, which the word of God knows not. Indeed the term task or taskmaster is totally inapplicable to the commands of Jesus ; whereas every exertion of human authority on the conscience is truly a task ; and therefore when Antichrist falls, in her is found, • slaves, the souls of men. Now these oppressive tasks, which Pha. raoh laid on Israel by his taskmasters, he employed to build treasure cities to him; and to what purpose was all the produce of the oppression of Rome employed, but to increase her wealth, and build treasure cities for her ?

We cannot conceive any thing more aptly descriptive, both of an tichristian bondage, and all that yoke which the self-righteous pride of man engages him in, than the following words : “All their service wherewith they made them serve was with rigour.' Pharaoh's plan of making the two midwives, whose office it was to assist in the birth, subservient to the destruction of the seed of Israel, is most remark, able. From their names and office, they clearly represent God's two witnesses, the scriptures, whose office it is to bring forth children to God's Israel. The plan of making them counteract the very end of their office, is so correspondent with the spiritual bondage, that the whole is very striking indeed. As it was with the Pharisees, the antichristian clergy have followed their footsteps in all ages. Not only in the mother of harlots herself, but among all her daughters, their work has been to bind heavy burdens on men's shoulders, gries vous and heavy to be borne;; and to co-operate with this, they cot. rupt the word of God, as Pharaoh attempted to do with the midwives, to strangle his chosen at the very birth. For what purpose has the God of this world, and the enemy of all righteousness, laboured so much to darken the scriptures, and pervert them, but by so doing, to make these very scriptures, by which guilty sinners are begotten again unto a lively hope, bring them into increased darkness and bondage ; and thus, like the Judaising teachers in the days of Paul, putting a yoke of bondage about the necks of the disciples, which neither they nor their fathers were able to bear. And opposed to which, Paul, who represents himself as travailing again in birth of them, till Christ was formed in them, (viz. by the operation of the scriptures, which the midwives represented,) thus exhorts them; Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ made us free, and be not entangled again in a yoke of bondage. It is of some con sequence to the understanding of the glorious subject on which we are now entering, that the true nature of their hard bondage be at. tended to, that is, the true nature of the spiritual bondage which was represented by this. We may further add, that no little anxiety was manifested to destroy the man-child, Jesus, at his birth, by Herod,

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »