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He therefore contents bimself with tracing the effects of the faith in this promise of the Messiab (un. der whom at his second coming, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob should inherit the glorious land) as it particularly shone forth in the conduct of those ancient keroes of the old testament, to whom he specially tefers.—These had the glimmering light of the great and mysterious truth revealed to them in different ways, but which, however obscure, were sufficient to exercise and prove their victorious faith in that God who had promised and could not deceive.
He mentions Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham and others; and then shows what God had specially promised to Israel, and the happy consequences that would ensue therefrom: " for this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days saith the Lord: I will put my laws into their mind and write them in their hearts, and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: for these (Abel, Enoch, &c.) all died in the faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them and embraced them.-By faith Abraham offered up Isaac; accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from whence he received him in a figure:” that is, by binding Isaac and laying him on the altar, and being prevented from killing him, when he was delivered by the angel and restored to the embraces of a fond father, he was taught the resurrection from the dead to inherit the promises—" and these also,
having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promises," and the reason is plainly given, that “ God having foreseen some better thing for us that they without us should not be made perfect: that is, God in his infinite wisdom has so ordered the progressive nature of the redemption of man, and the perfection of the glory of the redeemer's kingdom, as to draw the fulfillment of his gracious promises to his people, in their full extent, to a centre. That this should take place at the second coming of the Lord Jesus in glory, when all his people together ancient and modern, Jew and Gentile, bond and free, should be perfected together as one body, and enjoy the full fruition of their faith and hope, both temporally and spiritually, under the now glorified first fruits of the resurrection, even Christ their head, that where he is, they also may literally be. Therefore it is, that the apostle proceeds, in the joy of the blessed prospect, “ but ye are come to mount Zion and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels; to the general assembly and church of the first born, who are written (or enrolled) in heaven; and to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant--whose voice then (at the giving of the law) shook the earth; but now he hath promised saying, yet once more, I shake not the earth only, but also the heavens.—Wherefore we receiving a kingdom that cannot be moved, let us have grace whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.–For here we have no continuing city, but we seek one to come.”-As much as if he had said, these ancient witnesses for God, whose faith thus enabled them to rejoice and overcome, though at such a distance from the fulfilment of their hope, all died merely enjoying the truth of God's promises in expectation. They saw them but afar off, and knowing they were to wait for the actual possession, till in the revolution of time, it should please God to bring us forward to join the happy throng, and be perfected all together; for without us the church of God could not be complete, being an universal church consisting of both Jew and Gentile. -But you beloved in the Lord, have been highly favored in not having these difficulties to trouble you; as you enjoy a greater degree of knowledge, and see more of the goodness of God towards his fallen creatures, for ye will not be so long delayed, being already blessed by the first coming of our Lord and Saviour, and his divine teachings and example, with the gift of the holy spirit sent down into your hearts. Through him, the nature and effect of these promises of God, so inexplicable to the fathers, have been thus clearly revealed, attended with such full and certain evidence of the power and grace of the Redeemer. In this way you may be said already to have “ come to mount Zion” which is to be the seat of our great Immanuel, in the city of the living God, Jerusalem, which he chose of old as his inheritance, or Salem now the city of righteousness and peace," a beavenly city," where among other peculiar blessings, we shall
again enjoy a free intercommunion with the angels of God, together with a general assembly of our brethren the saints of God who have thus died in the faith, and who the Lord shall bring with him, their names being enrolled in heaven. But above all, you will have the personal presence of Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, whose voice, at his second coming, in proof of his power and glory (as it did at the giving of the law on mount Horeb) will destroy all the governments, or political powers of the earth, with their ecclesiastical jurisdictions over the souls of men. Then you who have been so despised and persecuted shall receive a kingdom that can never be moved or taken from you.---Under this glorious prospect, then, let these considerations animate you to diligence, activity and zeal in the cause of our common Lord-although here at present we have no abiding city, but are reviled and driven from place to place, often not know. ing where to lay our heads, yet we know that we have one in certain expectation, and wbich we shall assuredly possess in due time, if we hold out to the end.
THE apostle James also exhorts, “ be patient, therefore, brethren unto the coming of the Lord-Be ye also patient, establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.”
PETER, that chief of the apostles, and one of those who had seen our Lord in glory when he was on the mount, addresses those to whom he writes, as persons kept by the power of God through faith, unto a salvation ready to be revealed in the last timethat the trial of their faith being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise, and honor and glory, at the appearing of Jesus Christ,—and he exhorts them to gird up the loins of their minds, to be sober, and hope to the end, for the grace that is to be brought unto them at the revelation of Jesus Christ.-And that they should not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which was to try them, as though some strange thing happened unto them, but that they should rejoice inasmuch as they were partakers of Christ's sufferings; that when his glory should be rerealed, they might be glad with exceeding joy-for when their chief shepherd shall appear they should receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.-He then exhorts the elders among them, and claims the character of being also an elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, “ and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed” —hereby declaring his confidence that he should come with Christ, and be a sharer in his glory-and he further assures them,