« FöregåendeFortsätt »
Captain of the host of the Lord I now come. And so he appeared to Gideon, Judg. vi. 11, &c. and so also to Manoah, Judg. xiii. 17—21. Here Christ appeared to Manoah in a representation both of his incarnation and death; of his incarnation, in that he appeared in a human form; and of his death and sufferings, represented by the sacrifice of a kid, and by his ascending up in the flame of the sacrifice; intimating, that it was he that was the great sacrifice, that must be offered up to God for a sweet savour, in the fire of bis wrath, as that kid was burned and ascended up in the flame. Thus Christ appeared, time after time, in the form of that nature he was afterwards to assume ; because he now appeared on the same design and to carry on the same work.
XVII. Another thing I would mention, done in this period towards the work of redemption, is the beginning of a succession of prophets, and erecting a school of the prophets, in Samuel's time. There was something of this spirit of prophecy in Israel after Moses, before Samuel. Joshua and many of the judges had a degree of it. Deborah was a prophetess; and some of the high-priests were inspired with this spirit; particularly Eli. That space of time was not wholly without instances of those that were set apart of God especially to this office, and so were called prophets. Such an one we read of, Judg. vi. 8. The Lord sent a prophet unto the children of Israel, which said unto them, &c. Such an one he seems to have been of whom we read, 1 Sam. ii. 27. And there came a man of God to Eli, &c.
But there was no such order of men upheld in Israel, for any constancy, b«fore Samuel; the want of it is taken notice of in 1 Sam. iii. 1. And the word of the Lord was precious in those days; there was no open vision. But in Samuel there was begun a succession of prophets, maintained continually froin that time, at least with very little interruption, till the spirit of prophecy ceased, about Malachi's time : and therefore Samuel is spoken of in the New Testament as the beginning of this succession of prophets, Acts iii. 24. and all the prophets from Samuel, and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have foretold of these days. After Samuel was Nathan, and Gad, Iddo, and Heman, Asaph, and others. And afterwards, in the latter end of Solomon's reign, we read of Ahijah; and in Jeroboam and Rehoboam's time, we read of prophets; and so continually one prophet succeeded another till the captivity. In the writings of those prophets who are inserted in the canon of scripture, we read of prophets as being a constant order of men upheld in the land, And even during the captivity there were prophets still, as Ezekiel and Daniel; and after the captivity, as Zechariah, Haggai, and Malachi.
And because God intended a constant succession of prophets from Samuel's time, therefore in his time was begun a school of the prophets; that is, a school of young men, trained up under some great prophet, wbo was their master and teacher in the study of divine things, and the practice of holiness, to fit them for this office as God should call them to it. Those young men were called the sons of the prophets; and often. times they are termed prophets. These at first were under the tuition of Samuel.' Thus we read of Samuel's being appointed over them, 1 Sam. xix. 20. And when they saw the company of the prophets prophesying, and Sumuel standing as appointed over them. The company of prophets of whom we read, 1 Sam. x. 5. were the same. Afterwards we read of their being under Elijah. Elisha was one of these sons; but he desired to have a double portion of his spirit, as his suc. cessor, as the eldest son was wont to have a double portion of the estate of his father : and therefore the sons of the prophets, when they perceived that the spirit of Elijah rested on Elisha, submitted themselves to him, and owned him for their master as they had done Elijah before him, 2 Kings ii. 15. And when the sons of the prophets which were to view at Jericho, saw him, they said, The spirit of Elijah doth rest on Elisha. And they bowed themselves to the ground before him. Elisha being their master, or teacher, he had the care of them; as you may see, 2 Kings iv. 38. And Elisha came again into Gilgal, and there was a dearth in the land, and the sons of the prophets were sitting before him: and he said unto his servant, Set on the great pot, and seethe potlage for the sons of the prophets. In Elijah's and Elisha's time, there were several places where there resided companies of these sons of the prophets; as at Bethel, at Jericho, and at Gilgal, unless that at Gilgal and Jericho were the same : and possibly that wbich is called the college, where the prophetess Huldah resided, was another at Jerusalem ; see 2 Kings xxii, 14. It is there said of Huldah the prophetess, that she dwelt in Jerusalem, in the college. They had houses built, where they used to dwell together; and therefore those at Jericho being multiplied, and finding their houses too little for them, desired leave of their master and teacher Elisha, that they might go and hew timber to build a bigger; as you may see, 2 Kings vi. 1, 2. At some times there were numbers of these sons of the prophets in
for when Jezebel cut off the prophets of the Lord, it is said, that Obadiah took an hundred of them, and hid them by fifty in a cave, 1 Kings xviii. 4.
These schools of the prophets being set up by Samuel, and afterwards kept up by such as Elijah and Elisha, must be of divine appointinent; and accordingly we find, that those sons of the prophets were often favoured with a degree of inspira
tion, while they continued under tuition; and God commonly when he called any propbet to the constant exercise of the propbetical office, and to some extraordinary service, took them out of these schools; though not universally. Hence the prophet Amos, speaking of his being called to the prophetical office, says, that he had not been educated in the schools of the prophets, and was not one of the sons of the prophets, Amos vii. 14, 15. But Amos taking notice of it as remarkable, that he should be so called, shows that it was God's ordinary manner to take his prophets out of these schools; for therein he did but bless his own institution.
Now this remarkable dispensation of Providence-God beginning a constant succession of prophets in Samuel's time, which was to last for many ages; and to that end, establishing a school of the prophets under Samuel, thenceforward to be continued in Israel-was a step that God took in the great affair of redemption. For the main business of this succession of prophets was, to foreshew Christ, and the glorious redemption he was to accomplish, and so to prepare the way for his coming; as appears by that forementioned place, Acts iii. 24, and Acts x. 43. To him give all the prophets witness; and Acts iii. 18. But those things which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophels, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled.
The Old Testament church was not wholly without light, but had not the light of the sun directly, only as reflected. Now these prophets were the luminaries that reflected the light of the sun; and accordingly they spoke abundantly of Jesus Christ, as appears by what we have of their prophecies in writing. And they made it very much their business, when they studied in their schools or colleges, and elsewhere, to search out the work of redemption; agreeable to what the apostle Peter says of them, 1 Pet. i. 10,11. Of which salvation the prophets have inquired, and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you; searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ that was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and ihe glory that should follow. We are told that the church of the Redeemer is built on the foundation of the prophets and apostles, the Redeemer himself being the chief corner-stone, Eph. ii. 20.
This was the first thing of the nature that ever was done in the world ; and it was a great thing that God did towards further advancing this great building of redemption. There bad been before occasional prophecies of Christ, as was shown ; but now the time drawing nearer when the Redeemer should come, it pleased God to appoint a certain order of men, in constant succession, whose main business it should be, to point out Christ and his redemption, and as his forerunners to' prepare the way for his coming; and God established schools, wherein multitudes were instructed and trained up to that end, Rev. xix. 10. I am thy fellow-servant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus ; for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.
From David to the Babylonish Captivity. I come now to the fifth period of the times of the Old Testament, beginning with David, and extending to the Babylanish captivity; and would now proceed to show how the work of redemption was therein carried on.And here,
I. The first thing to be noticed, is God's anointing that person who was to be the ancestor of Christ, to be king over his people. The dispensations of Providence through the last period, respect the people whence Christ was to proceed ; but now the scripture leads us to consider God's providence towards that particular person whence Christ was to descend, viz. David. It pleased God at this time remarkably to select out this person, from all the thousands of Israel, and to put a most honourable mark of distinction upon him, by anointing him to be king over his people. It was only God that could find him out. His father's house is spoken of as being little in Israel, and he was the youngest of all the sons of his father, and was least expected by Samuel to be the man whom God had chosen. God had before, in the former ages of the world, remarkably distinguished the persons from whom Christ was to come; as Seth, and Noah, and Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob. But the last that we have any account of God's marking out in any notable manner, the very person of whom Christ was to come, was iņ Jacob's blessing his son Judah; unless we reckon Nasbon's advancement in the wilderness to be the head of the tribe of Judah. But this distinction of the person of whom Christ was to come, in David, was very honourable; for it was God's anointing him to be king over his people. And there was something further denoted by David's anointing, than was in the anointing of Saul. God anointed Saul to be king personally; but God intended something further by sending Samuel to anoint David, viz. to. establish the crown of Israel in him and his family, as long as Israel continued to be a kingdom ; and not only so, but what
was infinitely more still, establishing the crown of his universal church, his spiritual Israel, in his seed, to the end of the world, and through eternity.
This was a great dispensation of God, and a great step taken towards a further advancing of the work of redemption, according as the time drew near wherein Christ was to come. David, as he was the ancestor of Christ, so he was the greatest personal type of Christ of all under the Old Testament. The types of Christ were of three sorts ; instituted, providential, and personal. The ordinance of sacrificing was the greatest of the instiluted types; the redemption out of Egypt was the greatest of the providential; and David the greatest of the personal ones. Hence Christ is often called David in the prophecies of scripture; as Ezek. xxxiv. 23, 24. And I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, even my servant David;— My servant David a prince among them; and so in many other places. He is very often spoken of as the seed and the son of David.
David being the ancestor and great type of Christ, his being solemnly anointed by God to be king over his people, that the kingdom of his church might be continued in his family for ever, may in some respects be looked on as an anointing of Christ himself. Cbrist was as it were anointed in him; and therefore Christ's anointing and David's anointing are spoken of under one in scripture: Psalm xxxix. 20. I have found David my servant; with my holy oil have I anointed him. And David's throne and Christ's are spoken of as one : Luke i. 32. And the Lord shall give him the throne of his father David. Acts ii. 30. David-knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne.
Thus God beginning the kingdom of his church in the house of David, was, as it were, a new establishing of the kingdom of Christ; the beginning of it in a state of such visibility as it thenceforward continued in. It was planting the root, whence that branch of righteousness was afterwards to spring up, the everlasting king of his church; and therefore this everlasting king is called the branch from the stem of Jesse. Isa. xi. 1. And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. "Jer. xxiii. 5. Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise up unto David a righteous branch, and a king shall reign and prosper. So chap. xxxiii. 15. In those days, and at that time, 'I will cause the branch of rightevusness to grow up unto David, and he shall erecute judgment and righteousness in the land. So Christ, in the New Testament, is called the root and offspring of David, Rey. xxii. 16.