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favour to man, to command Moses to write his law, as a standing rule of faith and obedience to his church.

This leads us to consider a very important question, viz. whether the church, under the Old Testament dispensation, understood this written word, or the spiritual meaning of those laws that are contained therein? Some, indeed, have thought that the state of the church, before Christ came in the flesh, was attended with so much darkness, that they did not know the way of salvation, though they had, in whole or in part, the scriptures of the Old Testament. The Papists generally assert, that they did not; and therefore they fancy, that all who lived before Christ's time, were shut up in a prison, where they remained till he went from the cross to reveal himself to them, and so, as their leader, to conduct them in triumph to heaven. And some Protestants think the state of all who lived in those times, to have been attended with so much darkness, that they knew but little of Christ and his gospel, though shadowed forth, or typified by the ceremonial law; which they found on suchlike places of scripture as that, where Moses is said to have put a vail over his face, that the children of Israel could not stedfastly look to the end of that which is abolished; and that this vail is done away in Christ, 2 Cor. iii. 13, 14. and those scriptures that speak of the Jewish dispensation, as a night of darkness, compared with that of the gospel, which is represented as a perfect day, or the rising of the sun, Isa. xxi. 11. Cant. ii. 17. Malachi iv. 2. And as these extend the darkness of that dispensation farther than, as I humbly conceive, they ought to do, so they speak more of the wrath, bondage, and terror that attend it, than they have ground to do, especially when they make it universal; since there are several reasons, which may induce us to believe that the church, at that time, understood a great deal more of the gospel, shadowed forth in the ceremonial law, and had more communion with God, and less wrath, terror, or bondage, than these suppose they had; for which I would offer the following reasons,

1. Some of the Old Testament saints have expressed a great degree of faith in Christ, and love to him, whom they expected to come in our nature; and many of the prophets, in their inspired writings, have discovered that they were not strangers to the way of redemption and reconciliation to God by him, as the Lord our righteousness. A multitude of scriptures might be cited, that speak of Christ, and salvation by him in the Old Testament, Jer. xxiii. 5, 6. Zech. xiii. 7. Psal. xxxiii. 1, 2. compared with Rom. iv. 6. Thus Abraham is described, as rejoicing to see his day, John viii. 56. and the prophet Isaiah is so very particular and express in the account he gives of his person and offices, that I cannot see how any one can reasona

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bly conclude him to have been wholly a stranger to the gospel himself, Isa. xxii. 25. ch. lii. 13, 14, 15. Can any one think this, who reads his 53d chapter, where he treats of his life, death, sufferings, and offices, and of the way of salvation by him? Object. It is objected hereunto that the prophets who delivered these evangelical truths, understood but little of them themselves, because of the darkness of the dispensation they were under. Thus it is said, 1 Pet. i. 10, 11, 12. that the prophets, indeed, searched into the meaning of their own predictions, but to no purpose; for it was revealed to them, that not unto themselves, but unto us, they ministered; that is, the account they gave of our Saviour was not designed to be understood by them, but us in this present gospel-dispensation.

Answ. The answer that may be given to this objection is, that though the prophets are represented as enquiring into the meaning of their own prophecies, yet it doth not follow from thence that they had but little or no understanding of them: all that can be gathered from it is, that they studied them, as their own salvation was concerned therein; but we must not suppose that they did this to no purpose, as what they were not able to understand; and when it is farther said in this scripture, that not unto themselves, but unto us, they did minister the things that are now reported; the meaning is, not that they did not understand those things, or had not much concern in them, but that the glory of the gospel state, that was foretold in their prophecies, was what we should behold with our eyes, and not they themselves, in which sense they are said not to minister to themselves, but to us; so that this objection hath no force in it to overthrow the argument we are maintaining; we therefore proceed to consider,

2. That it is certain, that the whole ceremonial law had a spiritual meaning annexed to it; for it is said, That the law was a shadow of good things to come, Heb. x. 1. and that all those things happened to them for ensamples, [or types] and they are written for our admonition, 1 Cor. x. 11.

3. It is unreasonable to suppose that the spiritual meaning of the ceremonial law should not be known by those to whom it was principally given; or that the gospel, wrapt up therein, should not be seen through this shadow till the dispensation was abolished, the ceremonial law abrogated, and the nation cast off to whom it was given.

4. If the knowledge of the gospel, or faith in Christ, which is founded upon it, be necessary for our salvation, it was necessary for the salvation of those who lived in former ages; for it was as much a truth then as it is now, that there is salvation in no other; therefore the church of old were obliged to believe in him to come, as much as we are to believe in him as already

come; but it is inconsistent with the divine goodness to require this knowledge, and not to give them any expedient to attain it; therefore we must either suppose this knowledge attainable by them, and consequently that he was revealed to them, or else they must be excluded from a possibility of salvation, when, at the same time, they were obliged to believe in Christ, which they could not do, because they did not understand the meaning of that law, which was the only means of revealing him to them; or if Christ was revealed in the ceremonial law, and they had no way to understand it, it is all one as though he had not been revealed therein.

5. They had sufficient helps for the understanding the spiritual meaning thereof, viz. not only some hints of explication, given in the Old Testament, but, besides these, there was,

(1.) Extraordinary revelation and inspiration, with which the Jewish church more or less, was favoured, almost throughout all the ages thereof; and hereby it is more than probable that, together with the canon of the Old Testament, they received the spiritual sense and meaning of those things which were contained therein.

(2.) There was one whole tribe, viz. that of Levi, that was almost wholly employed in studying and explaining the law of God; therefore it is said, They shall teach Jacob thy judgments, and Israel thy law, Deut. xxxiii. 10. and that the priest's lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth; Mal. ii. 7. that is, the priests should, by all proper methods, understand the meaning of the law, that they might be able to teach the people, when coming to be instructed by them.

(3.) There were among them several schools of the prophets (in some ages at least of the Jewish church) in which some had extraordinary revelations; and they that had them not, made the scriptures their study, that they might be able to instruct others; so that, from all this, it appears that they had a great deal of knowledge of divine truths, and the spiritual meaning of the Old Testament; though yet we will not deny that the gospel dispensation hath a clearer light, and excels in glory. (a.)

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We shall now proceed to consider, how far the Old Testament is a rule of faith and obedience to us, though that dis

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Isaiah vi. ii. iii. iv. v.

Micah i. ii.

Isaiah vii.

Isaiah viii. ix. x.

Isaiah xvii.

Isaiah i.

Isaiah xxviii.

Hosea v. vi.

Isaiah xiv. ver. 28, &c.
Isaiah xv. xvi.

S Hosea vii.-xiv.

Micah iii. iv. v. vi. vii.
Nahum i. ii. iii.

Isaiah xxiii-xxvii.

Isaiah xxxviii. xxxix.

Isaiah xxix. XXX.—XXXV.
Isaiah xxii. ver. 1-15.
Isaiah xxi.
Isaiah XX.

Isaiah xviii. xix.

Isaiah x. ver. 5, &c. xi. xii. xiii. xiv. ver. 28, &c.

Isaiah xxxvi. xxxvii.

Isaiah xl.-xliii. &c.
Isaiah xxii. ver. 15.
Jeremiah i. ii.

Jeremiah xi. ver. 1-18.

Jeremiah iii.-x. xii.-xxi.

Jeremiah xi. ver. 18, &c.

Habbakkuk i. ii. iii. Zephaniah i. ii. iii.

Jeremiah xxii. ver. 1-24.

611 Josiah 31.

610 Jehoiakim 1.

In the same year

Jeremiah xxvi.

606 Jehoiakim 4.

Jeremiah XXV.
Jeremiah xxxXV.

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Jeremiah xlvi.

In the same year

In the same year

In the same year

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Jeremiah xxxvi. ver. 1–9.
Jeremiah xlv.

Daniel i.

Jeremiah xxxvi. ver. 9, &c.
Daniel ii.

Jeremiah xxii. ver. 24, &c.
Jeremiah xxiii.

Jeremiah xiii. ver. 13, &c.
Jeremiah xxiv.

Jeremiah xlix. ver. 34, &c.
Jeremiah xxix.
Jeremiah xxx. xxxi.
Jeremiah xxvii.

Jeremia'. xxviii.

Jeremiah 1. li.
Ezekiel i-vii.
Ezekiel viii.—xi.
Ezekiel xii-xix.
Ezekiel xx-xxiii.
Jeremiah xxi. xxxiv. ver. 1—8.
Jeremiah xlvii.

pensation be abolished; for we are not to reckon it an useless part of scripture, or that it does not at all concern us. Since,

In the same year

In the same year

Jeremiah xlviii. xlix. ver. 1-34.
Ezekiel xxiv. XXV.

590 Zedekiah 10. Jehoiachin's capt. Jeremiah xxxvii. ver. 1-11.

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