FROM THE FALL TO THE INCARNATION
MY first task is, to show how the work of redemption is carried on from the fall of man to the incarnation of Christ, under the first proposition, viz.
That the space of time from the fall of man to the incarnation of Christ, was taken up in doing those things that were forerunners and earnests of Christ’s coming and working out redemption, and were preparatory to it.
The great works of God in the world during this whole space of time, were all preparatory to this. There were many great changes and revolutions in the world. These were all only the turning of the wheels of providence in order to this, to make way for the coming of Christ, and what he was to do in the world. They all pointed hither, and all issued here. Hither tended especially all God’s great works towards his church. The church was under various dispensations of providence, and in very various circumstances, before Christ came. But all these dispensations were to prepare the way for his coming. God wrought salvation for the souls of men through all that space of time, though the number was very small to what it was afterwards. And all this salvation was, as it were, by way of anticipation. All the souls that were saved before Christ came, were only as it were the earnests of the future harvest.
God wrought many lesser salvations and deliverances for his church and people before Christ came. These salvations were all but so many images and forerunners of the great salvation Christ was to work out when he should come. God revealed himself of old, from time to time, from the fall of man to the coming of Christ. The church during that space of time enjoyed the light of divine revelation, or God’s Word. They had in a degree the light of the gospel. But all these revelations were only so many forerunners and earnests of the great light that he should bring who came to be the light of the world. That whole space of time was as it were the time of night, wherein the church of God was not indeed wholly without light. It was like the light of the moon and stars that we have in the night, a dim light in comparison of the light of the sun, and mixed with a great deal of darkness. It had no glory, by reason of the glory that excels, 2 Cor. 3:10. The church had indeed the light of the sun, but it was only as reflected from the moon and stars. The church all that while was a minor. This the apostle evidently teaches in Gal. 4:1, 2, 3, “Now I say, that the heir as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all, but is under tutors and governors, until the time appointed of the father. Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world.”
But here, for the greater clearness and distinctness, I would subdivide this period, from the fall of man to the coming of Christ, into six lesser periods, or parts.
1st, Extending from the fall to the flood.
2nd, From thence to the calling of Abraham.
3rd, From thence to Moses.
4th, From thence to David.
5th, From David to the captivity into Babylon.
6th, From thence to the incarnation of Christ.
PERIOD I, PART I
FROM THE FALL TO THE FLOOD
THIS was a period farthest of all distant from Christ’s incarnation. Yet then this great work was begun to be carried on. Then was this glorious building begun, that will not be finished until the end of the world, as I would now show you how. And to this purpose I would observe.
I. As soon as ever man fell, Christ entered on his mediatorial work. Then it was that Christ first took on him the work and office of a mediator. He had undertaken it before the world was made. He stood engaged with the Father to appear as man’s mediator, and to take on him that office when there should be occasion, from all eternity. But now the time was come. When man fell, then the occasion came. And then Christ immediately, without further delay, entered on his work, and took on him that office that he had stood engaged to take on him from eternity. As soon as ever man fell, Christ the eternal Son of God clothed himself with the mediatorial character, and therein presented himself before the Father. He immediately stepped in between an holy, infinite, offended Majesty, and offending mankind, and was accepted in his interposition. And so wrath was prevented from going forth in the full execution of that amazing curse that man had brought on himself.
It is manifest that Christ began to exercise the office of mediator between God and man as soon as ever man fell, because mercy began to be exercised towards man immediately. There was mercy in the forbearance of God, that he did not destroy him, as he did the angels when they fell. But there is no mercy exercised toward fallen man but through a mediator. If God had not in mercy restrained Satan, he would immediately have seized on his prey. Christ began to do the part of an intercessor for man as soon as he fell. There is no mercy exercised towards man but what is obtained through Christ’s intercession. Now Christ was entered on his work that he was to continue in throughout all ages of the world. From that day forward Christ took on him the care of the church of the elect. He took on him the care of fallen man in the exercise of all his offices. He undertook thenceforward to teach mankind in the exercise of his prophetic office, and also to intercede for fallen man in his priestly office. He took on him, as it were, the care and burden of the government of the church, and of the world of mankind, from this day forward. He from that time took upon him the care of the defense of his elect church from all their enemies. When Satan, the grand enemy, had conquered and overthrown man, the business of resisting and conquering him was committed to Christ. He thenceforward undertook to manage that subtle powerful adversary. He was then appointed the Captain of the Lord’s hosts, and the Captain of their salvation, and always acted as such thenceforward. So he appeared from time to time, and he will continue to act as such to the end of the world. Henceforward this lower world, with all its concerns, was, as it were, devolved upon the Son of God for when man had sinned. God the Father would have no more to do with man immediately. He would no more have any immediate concern with this world of mankind, that had apostatized from and rebelled against him. He would henceforward have no concern with man, but only through a mediator, either in teaching men, or in governing or bestowing any benefits on them.
And therefore, when we read in sacred history what God did from time to time towards his church and people, and what he said to them, and how he revealed himself to them, we are to understand it especially of the second person of the Trinity. When we read of God’s appearing after the fall, from time to time, in some visible form or outward symbol of his presence, we are ordinarily, if not universally, to understand it of the second person of the Trinity. This may be argued from John 1:18, “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.” He is therefore called “the Image of the invisible God,” Col. 1:15, intimating, that though God the Father be invisible, yet Christ is his image or representation, by which he is seen, or by which the church of God has often had a representation of him, that is not invisible. In particular, Christ has after appeared in an human form.
Yea, not only was this lower world devolved on Christ, that he might have the care and government of it, and order it agreeably to his design of redemption, but also in some respect the whole universe. The angels from that time were committed to him, to be subject to him in his mediatorial office, to be ministering spirits to him in this affair and accordingly were so from this time forward, as is manifest by the scripture history. We have accounts from time to time of their acting as ministering spirits in the affairs of the church of Christ.
And therefore we may suppose, that immediately on the fall of man, it was made known in heaven among the angels, that God had a design of redemption with respect to fallen man, and that Christ had now taken upon him the office and work of a mediator between God and man, that they might know their business hence that which was to be subservient to Christ, in this office. And as Christ, in this office, has since that, as God-man and Mediator, been solemnly exalted and installed the King of heaven, and is thenceforward as God-man, Mediator, the light, and as it were, the Sun of heaven. This is agreeable to Rev. 21:23, “And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it; for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.” So this revelation that was made in heaven among the angels, of Christ’s now having taken on him the office of a mediator between God and man, was as it were the first dawning of this light in heaven. When Christ ascended into heaven after his passion, and was solemnly installed in the throne as King of heaven, then this sun rose in heaven, even the Lamb that is the light of the new Jerusalem. But the light began to dawn immediately after the fall.
II. Presently upon this the gospel was first revealed on earth, in these words, Gen. 3:15, “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed. It shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” We must suppose, that God’s intention of redeeming fallen man was first signified in heaven, before it was signified on earth, because the business of the angels as ministering spirits of the Mediator required it. For as soon as ever Christ had taken on him the work of a mediator, it was requisite that the angels should be ready immediately to be subservient to him in that office, so that the light first dawned in heaven, but very soon after the same was signified on earth. In those words of God there was an intimation of another surety to be appointed for man, after the first surety had failed. This was the first revelation of the covenant of grace. This was the first dawning of the light of the gospel on earth.
This lower world before the fall enjoyed noonday light, the light of the knowledge of God, the light of his glory, and the light of his favor. But when man fell, all this light was at once extinguished, and the world reduced back again to total darkness, a worse darkness than that which was in the beginning of the world, that we read of in Gen. 1:2, “And the earth was without form, and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep.” This was a darkness a thousand times less redeemable than that. Neither men nor angels could find out any way whereby this darkness might be scattered. This darkness appeared in its blackness then, when Adam and his wife saw that they were naked, and sewed fig leaves, and when they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden, and hid themselves among the trees of the garden, and when God first called them to an account, and said to Adam, “What is this that thou hast done? — Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee, that thou shouldest not eat?” Then we may suppose that their hearts were filled with shame and terror. But these words of God, Gen. 3:15, were the first dawning of the light of the gospel after this darkness. Now first appeared some glimmering of light after this dismal darkness, which before this was without one glimpse of light, any beam of comfort, or any the least hope. It was an obscure revelation of the gospel, and was not made to Adam or Eve directly, but it was in what God said to the serpent. But yet it was very comprehensive, as might be easily shown, would it not take up too much time.
Here was a certain intimation of a merciful design by “the seed of the woman,” which was like the first glimmerings of the light of the sun in the east when the day first dawns. This intimation of mercy was given them even before sentence was pronounced on either Adam or Eve, from tenderness to them, to whom God designed mercy, lest they should be overborne with a sentence of condemnation, without having anything held forth whence they could gather any hope.
One of those great things that were intended to he done by the work of redemption, is more plainly intimated here than the rest, viz. God’s subduing his enemies under the feet of his Son. This was threatened now, and God’s design of this was now first declared, which was the work Christ had now undertaken, and which he soon began, and carried on thenceforward, and will perfectly accomplish at the end of the world. Satan probably had triumphed greatly in the fall of man, as though he had defeated the designs of God in the creation of man and the world in general. But in these words God gives him a plain intimation, that he should not finally triumph, but that a complete victory and triumph should be obtained over him by the seed of the woman.
This revelation of the gospel in this verse was the first thing that Christ did in his prophetic office. You may remember, that it was said in the first of those three propositions that have been mentioned, that from the fall of man to the incarnation of Christ, God was doing those things that were preparatory to Christ’s coming and working out redemption, and were forerunners and earnests of it. And one of those things which God did in this time to prepare the way for Christ’s coming into the world, was to foretell and promise it, as he did from time to time, from age to age, until Christ came. This was the first promise that ever was given of it, the first prediction that ever was made of it on earth.
III. Soon after this, the custom of sacrificing was appointed, to be a steady type of the sacrifice of Christ until he should come, and offer up himself a sacrifice to God. Sacrificing was not a custom first established by the Levitical law of Moses. For it had been a part of God’s instituted worship long before, even from the beginning of God’s visible church on earth. We read of the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, offering sacrifice, and before them Noah, and before him Abel. And this was by divine appointment. For it was a part of God’s worship in his church, that was offered up in faith, and that he accepted. This proves that it was by his institution. For sacrificing is no part of natural worship. The light of nature does not teach men to offer up beasts in sacrifice to God, and seeing it was not enjoined by the law of nature, if it was acceptable to God, it must be by some positive command or institution. For God has declared his abhorrence of such worship as is taught by the precept of men without his institution, Isa. 29:13, “Wherefore the Lord said, For as much as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honor me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear towards me is taught by the precept of men; therefore behold, I will proceed to do a marvelous work,” etc. And such worship as hath not a warrant from divine institution, cannot be offered up in faith, because faith has no foundation where there is no divine appointment. It cannot be offered up in faith of God’s acceptance. For men have no warrant to hope for God’s acceptance, in that which is not of his appointment, and in that to which he hath not promised his acceptance. Therefore it follows, that the custom of offering sacrifices to God was instituted soon after the fall. For the Scripture teaches us, that Abel offered “the firstlings of his flock, and of the fat thereof,” Gen. 4:4 and that he was accepted of God in this offering, Heb. 11:4. And there is nothing in the story that looks as though the institution was first given then when Abel offered up that sacrifice to God, but it appears as though Abel only therein complied with a custom already established.
And it is very probable that it was instituted immediately after God had revealed the covenant or grace, in Gen. 3:15, which covenant and promise was the foundation on which the custom of sacrificing was built. That promise was the first stone that was laid towards this glorious building, the work of redemption, which will be finished at the end of the world. And the next stone which was laid upon that, was the institution of sacrifices, to be a type of the great sacrifice.
The next thing that we have an account of after God had pronounced sentence on the serpent, on the woman, and on the man, was, that God made them coats of skins, and clothed them, which, by the generality of divines, are thought to be the skins of beasts slain in sacrifice. For we have no account of anything else that should be the occasion of man’s slaying beasts, but only to offer them in sacrifice, until after the flood. Men were not wont to eat the flesh of beasts as their common food until after the flood. The first food of man in paradise before the fall was the fruit of the trees of paradise. When he was turned out of paradise after the fall, then his food was the herb of the field, Gen. 3:18, “And thou shalt eat of the herb of the field.” The first grant that he had to eat flesh as his common food was after the flood, Gen. 9:3, “Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things.” So that it is likely that these skins that Adam and Eve were clothed with, were the skins of their sacrifices. God’s clothing them with these was a lively figure of their being clothed with the righteousness of Christ. This clothing was no clothing of their own obtaining, but it was God that gave it them. It is said, “God made them coats of skins, and clothed them,” as the righteousness our naked souls are clothed with, is not our righteousness, but the righteousness which is of God. It is he only clothes the naked soul.
Our first parents, who were naked, were clothed at the expense of life. Beasts were slain, and resigned up their lives a sacrifice to God, to afford clothing to them to cover their nakedness. So doth Christ, to afford clothing to our naked souls. The skin signifies the life:
So, Job 2:4, “Skin for skin, yea all that a man hath will he give for his life,” i.e. life for life. Thus our first parents were covered with skins of sacrifices, as the tabernacle in the wilderness, which signified the church, was, when it was covered with rams’ skins dyed red, as though they were dipped in blood, to signify that Christ’s righteousness was wrought out through the pains of death, under which he shed his precious blood.
We observed before, that the light that the church enjoyed from the fall of man, until Christ came, was like the light which we enjoy in the night, not the light of the sun directly, but as reflected from the moon and stars, which light did foreshadow Christ the Sun of righteousness that was afterwards to arise. This light of the Sun of righteousness to come they had chiefly two ways. One was by predictions of Christ to come, whereby his coming was foretold and promised. The other was by types and shadows, whereby his coming and redemption were prefigured. The first thing that was done to prepare the way for Christ in the former of these ways, was in that promise that was just taken notice of in the foregoing particular. And the first thing of the latter kind, viz., of types, to foreshadow Christ’s coming, was that institution of sacrifices that we are now upon. As that promise in Gen. 3:15 was the first dawn of gospel light after the fall in prophecy. So the institution of sacrifices was the first hint of it in types. The giving of that promise was the first thing that was done after the fall, in this work, in Christ’s prophetic office, the institution of sacrifices was the first thing that we read of after the fall, by which especially Christ exhibited himself in his priestly office.
The institution of sacrifices was a great thing done towards preparing the way for Christ’s coming, and working out redemption. For the sacrifices of the Old Testament were the main of all the Old Testament types of Christ and his redemption. And it tended to establish in the minds of God’s visible church the necessity of a propitiatory sacrifice, in order to the Deity’s being satisfied for sin, and so prepared the way for the reception of the glorious gospel, that reveals the great sacrifice in the visible church, and not only so, but through the world of mankind. For from this institution of sacrifices that was after the fall, all nations derived the custom of sacrificing. For this custom of offering up sacrifices to the gods, to atone for their sins, was common to all nations. No nation, however barbarous, was found without it anywhere. This is a great evidence of the truth of the Christian religion. For no nation, but only the Jews, could tell how they came by this custom, or to what purpose it was to offer sacrifices to their deities. The light of nature did not teach them any such thing That did not teach them that the gods were hungry, and fed upon the flesh which they burnt in sacrifice. And yet they all had this custom, of which no other account can be given, but that they derived it from Noah, who had it from his ancestors, on whom God had enjoined it as a type of the great sacrifice of Christ. However, by this means all nations of the world had their minds possessed with this notion, that an atonement or sacrifice for sin was necessary. And a way was made for their more readily receiving the great doctrine of the gospel of Christ, which teaches us the atonement and sacrifice of Christ.
IV. God did soon after the fall begin actually to save the souls of men through Christ’s redemption. In this Christ, who had lately taken upon him the work of Mediator between God and man, did first begin that work, wherein he appeared in the exercise of his kingly office, as in the sacrifices he was represented in his priestly office, and in the first prediction of redemption by Christ he had appeared in the exercise of his prophetic office. In that prediction the light of Christ’s redemption first began to dawn in the prophecies of it, in the institution of sacrifices it first began to dawn in the types of it, in this, viz., his beginning actually to save men, it first began to dawn in the fruit of it.
It is probable, therefore, that Adam and Eve were the first fruits of Christ’s redemption. It is probable by God’s manner of treating them, by his comforting them as he did, after their awakenings and terrors. They were awakened, and ashamed with a sense of their guilt, after their fall, when their eyes were opened, and they saw that they were naked, and sewed fig leaves to cover their nakedness. As the sinner, under the first awakenings, is wont to endeavor to hide the nakedness of his soul, by patching up a righteousness of his own. Then they were further terrified and awakened, by hearing the voice of God, as he was coming to condemn them. Their coverings of fig leaves do not answer the purpose, but notwithstanding these, they ran to hide themselves among the trees of the garden, because they were naked, not daring to trust to their fig leaves to hide their nakedness from God. Then they were further awakened by God’s calling of them to a strict account. But while their terrors were raised to such a height, and they stood, as we may suppose, trembling and astonished before their judge, without anything to catch hold of whence they could gather any hope. Then God took care to hold forth some encouragement to them, to keep them from the dreadful effects of despair under their awakenings, by giving a hint of a design of mercy by a Savior, even before he pronounced sentence against them. And when after this he proceeded to pronounce sentence, whereby we may suppose their terrors were further raised, God soon after took care to encourage them, and to let them see, that he had not wholly cast them off, by taking a fatherly care of them in their fallen, naked, and miserable state, by making them coats of skins and clothing them. Which also manifested an acceptance of those sacrifices that they offered to God for sin, that those were the skins of, which were types of what God had promised, when he said, “The seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent’s head.” Which promise, there is reason to think, they believed and embraced. Eve seems plainly to express her hope in and dependence on that promise, in what she says at the birth of Cain, Gen. 4:1, “I have gotten a man from the Lord,” i.e. as God has promised, that my seed should bruise the serpent’s head. So now has God given me this pledge and token of it, that I have a seed born. She plainly owns, that this her child was from God, and hoped that her promised seed was to be of this her eldest son, though she was mistaken, as Abraham was with respect to Ishmael, as Jacob was with respect to Esau, and as Samuel was with respect to the first born of Jesse. And especially does what she said at the birth of Seth express her hope and dependence on the promise of God, see Gen. 4:25, “For God hath appointed me another seed, instead of Abel, whom Cain slew.”
Thus it is exceeding probable, if not evident, that as Christ took on him the work of Mediator as soon as man fell, so that he now immediately began his work of redemption in its effect, and that he immediately encountered his great enemy the devil, whom he had undertaken to conquer, and rescued those two first captives out or his hands, therein baffling him, soon after his triumph for the victory he had obtained over them, whereby he bad made them his captives. And though he was, as it were, sure of them and all their posterity, Christ the Redeemer Soon showed him, that he was mistaken, and that he was able to subdue him, and deliver fallen man. He let him see it, in delivering those first captives of his, and so soon gave him an instance of the fulfillment of that threatening, “The seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent’s head,” and in this instance a presage of the fulfillment of one great thing he had undertaken, viz. his subduing all his enemies under his feet.
After this we have another instance of redemption in one of their children, viz. in righteous Abel, as the Scripture calls him, whose soul perhaps was the first that went to heaven through Christ’s redemption. In him we have at least the first instance of the death of a redeemed person that is recorded in Scripture. If he was the first, then as the redemption of Christ began to dawn before in the souls of men in their conversion and justification, in him it first began to dawn in glorification. And in him the angels began first to do the part of ministering spirits to Christ, in going forth to conduct the souls of the redeemed to glory. And in him the elect angels in heaven had the first opportunity to see so wonderful a thing as the soul of one of the fallen race of mankind, that had been sunk by the fall into such an abyss of sin and misery, brought to heaven, and in the enjoyment of heavenly glory, which was a much greater thing than if they had seen him returned to the earthly paradise. Thus they by this saw the glorious effect of Christ’s redemption, in the great honor and happiness that was procured for sinful miserable creatures by it.
V. The next remarkable thing that God did in the farther carrying on of this great affair of redemption, that I shall take notice of, was the first remarkable pouring out of the Spirit through Christ that ever was, which was in the days of Enos. This seems to have been the next remarkable thing that was done toward erecting this glorious building that God had begun and laid the foundation of in Christ the Mediator. We read, Gen. 4:26, “Then began men to call upon the name of the Lord.” The meaning of these words has been a considerable controversy among divines. We cannot suppose the meaning is, that that time was the first that ever man performed the duty of prayer. Prayer is a duty of natural religion, and a duty to which a spirit of piety does most naturally lead men. Prayer is as it were the very breath of a spirit of piety. And we cannot suppose therefore, that those holy men that had been before for above two hundred years, had lived all that while without any prayer. Therefore some divines think, that the meaning is, that then men first began to perform public worship, or to call upon the name Of the Lord in public assemblies. Whether it be so to be understood or no, yet so much must necessarily be understood by it, viz. that there was something new in the visible church of God with respect to the duty of prayer, or calling upon the name of the Lord, that there was a great addition to the performance of this duty. In some respect or other it was carried far beyond what it ever had been before, which must be the consequence of a remarkable pouring out of the Spirit of God.
If it was now first that men were stirred up to get together in assemblies to help and assist one another in seeking God, so as they never had done before, it argues something extraordinary as the cause, and could be from nothing but uncommon influences of God’s Spirit. We see by experience, that a remarkable pouring out of God’s Spirit is always attended with such an effect, viz. a great increase of the performance of the duty of prayer. When the Spirit of God begins a work on men’s hearts, it immediately sets them to calling on the name of the Lord. As it was with Paul after the Spirit of God had laid hold of him, then the next news is, “Behold, he prayeth!” So it has been in all remarkable pourings out of the Spirit of God that we have any particular account of in Scripture. So it is foretold it will be at the great pouring out of the Spirit of God in the latter days. It is foretold, that it will be poured out as a spirit of grace and supplications, Zec. 12:10. See also Zep. 3:9, “For then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the Lord, to serve him with one consent.”
And when it is said, “Then began men to call upon’ the name of the Lord,” no more can be intended by it’ than that this was the first remarkable season of this nature that ever was. It was the beginning, or the first of such a kind of work of God, such a pouring out of the Spirit of God. After such a manner such an ‘expression’ is commonly used in Scripture. So, 1 Sam. 14:35, “And Saul built an altar unto the Lord; the same was the first altar that he built unto the Lord.” In the Hebrew it is, as you may see in the margin, “that altar he began to build unto the Lord.” Heb. 2:3, “How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation, which first began to be spoken by the Lord?”
It my be observed, that from the fall of man, to this day wherein we live, the work of redemption in its effect has mainly been carried on by remarkable pourings out of the Spirit of God. Though there be a more constant influence of God’s Spirit always in some degree attending his ordinances. Yet the way in which the greatest things have been done towards carrying on this work, always has been by remarkable pourings out of the Spirit at special seasons of mercy, as may fully appear hereafter in our further prosecution of the subject we are upon. And this pouring out of the Spirit in the days of Enos, was the first remarkable pouring out of the Spirit of God that ever was. There had been a saving work of God on the hearts of some before. But now God was pleased to grant a more large effusion of his Spirit, for the bringing in an harvest of souls to Christ, so that in this we see that great building that is the subject of our present discourse, which God laid the foundation of immediately after the fall of man, carried on further, and built higher, than ever it had been before.
VI. The next thing I shall take notice of, is the eminently holy life of Enoch, who we have reason to think was a saint of greater eminency than any ever had been before him. In this respect the work of redemption was carried on to a greater height than ever it had been before. With respect to its effect in the visible church in general, we observed just now how it was carried higher in the days of Enos than ever it had been before. Probably Enoch was one of the saints of that harvest, for he lived all the days that he did live on earth, in the days of Enos. And with respect to the degree to which this work was carried in the soul of a particular person, it was raised to a greater height in Enoch than ever before. His soul, as it was built on Christ, was built up in holiness to a greater height than there had been any instance of before. He was a wonderful instance of Christ’s redemption, and the efficacy of his grace.
VII. In Enoch’s time, God did more expressly reveal the coming of Christ than he had done before, in the prophecy of Enoch that we have an account of in the 14th and 15th verses of the epistle of Jude (Jude 1:14, 15), “And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, Saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousand of his saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them, of their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches Which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” Here Enoch prophesies of the coming of Christ. It does not seem to be confined to any particular coming of Christ, but it has respect in general to Christ’s coming in his kingdom, and is fulfilled in a degree in both the first and second coming of Christ, and indeed in every remarkable manifestation Christ has made of himself in the world, for the saving of his people, and the destroying of his enemies. It is very parallel in this respect with many other prophecies of the coming of Christ, that were given under the Old Testament. In particular, it seems to be parallel with that great prophecy of Christ’s coming in his kingdom that we have in the 7th chapter of Daniel, whence the Jews principally took their notion of the kingdom of heaven. See Dan. 7:10, “A fiery stream issued, and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened.” And Dan. 7:13, 14, “I saw in the night visions, and behold, one like the Son of Man, came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.” And though it is not unlikely that Enoch might have a more immediate respect in this prophecy to the approaching destruction of the old world by the flood, which was a remarkable resemblance of Christ’s destruction of all his enemies at his second coming, yet it doubtless looked beyond the type to the anti-type.
And as this prophecy of Christ’s coming is more express than any had been before. So it is an instance of the increase of that gospel light that began to dawn presently after the fall of man, and is an instance of that building that is the subject, of our present discourse, being yet further carried on, and built up higher than ever it had been before.
And here, by the way, I would observe, that the increase of gospel light, and the carrying on the work of redemption, as it respects the elect church in general, from the first erecting of the church to the end of the world, is very much after the same manner as the carrying on of the same work and the same light in a particular soul, from the time of its conversion, until it is perfected and crowned in glory. The work in a particular soul has its ups and downs. Sometimes the light shines brighter, and sometimes it is a dark time. Sometimes grace seems to prevail, at other times it seems to languish for a great while together, and corruption prevails, and then grace revives again. But in general, grace is growing. From its first infusion, until it is perfected in glory, the kingdom of Christ is building up in the soul.
So it is with respect to the great affair in general, as it relates to the universal subject of it, as it is carried on from the first beginning of it. after the fall, until it is perfected at the end of the world, as will more fully appear by a particular view of this affair from beginning to end, in the prosecution of this subject, if God give opportunity to carry it through as I propose.
VIII. The next remarkable thing towards carrying on this work, that we have an account of in Scripture, is the translation of Enoch into heaven. The account we have of it is in Gen. 5:24, “And Enoch walked with God, and he was not; for God took him.” Here Moses, in giving an account of the genealogy of those that were of the line of Noah, does not say concerning Enoch, he lived so long and he died, as he does of the rest. But, he was not, for God took him, i.e. he translated him, in body and soul carried him to heaven without dying, as it is explained in Heb. 11:5, “By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death.” By this wonderful work of God, the work of redemption was carried to a greater height in several respects, than it had been before.
You may remember, that when I was showing what were the great things that God aimed at in the work of redemption, or what the main things were that he intended to bring to pass, I among other things mentioned (p. 23) the perfect restoring the ruins of the fall with respect to the elect, and restoring man from that destruction that he had brought on himself, both in soul and body. Now this translation of Enoch was the first instance that ever was of restoring the ruins of the fall with respect to the body. There had been many instances of restoring the soul of man by Christ’s redemption, but none of redeeming and actually saving the body until now. All the bodies of the elect are to be saved as well as their souls. At the end of the world, all the bodies of the saints shall actually be redeemed, those that then shall have been dead, by a resurrection, and others, that then shall be living, by causing them to pass under a glorious change. There was a number of the bodies of saints raised and glorified, at the resurrection and ascension of Christ. Before that there was an instance of a body glorified in Elijah. But the first instance of all was this of Enoch, that we are now speaking of
And the work of redemption by this was carried on further than ever it had been before. By this wonderful work of God, there was a great increase of gospel light to the church of God, in this respect, that hereby the church had a clearer manifestation of a future state, and of the glorious reward of the saints in heaven. We are told, 2 Tim. 1:10, “That life and immortality are brought to light by the gospel.” And the more of this is brought to light, the more clearly does the light shine in that respect. What was said in the Old Testament of a future state, is very obscure, in comparison with the more full, plain, and abundant revelation given of it in the New. But yet even in those early days, the church of God, in this instance, was favored with an instance of it set before their eyes, In that one of their brethren was actually taken up to heaven without dying, which we have all reason to think the church of God knew then, as they afterwards knew Elijah’s translation. And as this was a clearer manifestation of a future state than the church had had before, so it was a pledge or earnest of that future glorification of all the saints which God intended through the redemption of Jesus Christ.
IX. The next thing that I shall observe, was the upholding the church of God in the family of which Christ was to proceed, in the time of that great and general defection of the world of mankind that was before the flood. The church of God, in all probability, was small, in comparison with the rest of the world, from the beginning of the time that mankind first began to multiply on the face of the earth, or from the time of Cain’s defection, and departing from among the people of God, the time we read of, Gen. 4:16. When “Cain went out from the presence of the Lord, and dwelt in the land of Nod,” which being interpreted, is the land of banishment. I say, from that time of Cain’s departure and separation from the church of God, it is probable that the church of God was small in comparison with the rest of the world. The church seems to have been kept up chiefly in the posterity of Seth, for this was the seed that God appointed instead of Abel, whom Cain slew. But we cannot reasonably suppose, that Seth’s posterity were one fiftieth part of the world, “For Adam was one hundred and thirty years old when Seth was born.” But Cain, who seems to have been the ringleader of those that were not of the church, was Adam’s eldest child, and probably was born soon after the fall, which doubtless was soon after Adam’s creation, so that there was time for Cain to have many sons before Seth was born, and besides many other children, that probably Adam and Eve had before this time, agreeably to God’s blessing that he gave them, when he said, “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth,” and many of these children might have children. The story of Cain before Seth was born, seems to represent as though there were great numbers of men on the earth, Gen. 4:14, is “Behold, thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the earth: and from thy face shall I be hid, and I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth; and it shall come to pass, that every one that findeth me shall slay me. And the Lord said unto him, Therefore whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him seven-fold. And the Lord set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him.” And all those that were then in being when Seth was born, must be supposed then to stand in equal capacity of multiplying their posterity with him. Therefore, as I said before, Seth’s posterity were but a small part of the inhabitants of the world.
But after the days of Enos and Enoch (for Enoch was translated before Enos died) I say, after their days, the church of God greatly diminished, in proportion as multitudes that were of the line of Seth, and had been born in the church of God, fell away, and joined with the wicked world, principally by means of intermarriages with them, as Gen. 6:1, 2, and 4, “And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose. There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men, which were of old, men of renown.” By the sons of God here, are doubtless meant the children of the church. It is a denomination often given them in Scripture. They intermarried with the wicked world, and so had their hearts led away from God, and there was a great and continual defection from the church. And the church of God, that used to be a restraint on the wicked world, diminished exceedingly, and so wickedness went on without restraint. And Satan, that old serpent the devil, that tempted our first parents, and set up himself as god of this world, raged exceedingly, and every imagination of the thoughts of man’s heart was only evil continually, and the earth was filled with violence. It seemed to be deluged with wickedness now, as it was with water afterwards. Mankind in general were drowned in this deluge. Almost all were swallowed up in it. And now Satan made a most violent and potent attempt to swallow up the church of God, and had almost done it. But yet God restored it in the midst of all this flood of wickedness and violence. He kept it up in that line of which Christ was to proceed. He would not suffer it to be destroyed, for a blessing was in it. The Lord the Redeemer was in this branch of mankind, and was afterwards to proceed from it. There was a particular family that was a root in which the great Redeemer of the world was, and whence the branch of righteousness was afterwards to shoot forth. And therefore, however the branches were lopped off, and the tree seemed to be destroyed. Yet God, in the midst of all this, kept alive this root, by his wonderful redeeming power and grace, so that the gates of hell could not prevail against it.
Thus I have shown how God carried on the great affair of redemption, how the building went on that God began after the fall, during this first period of the times of the Old Testament, viz. from the fall of man, until God brought the flood on the earth. And I would take notice upon it, that though the history which Moses gives of the great works of God during that space be very short. Yet it is exceeding comprehensive and instructive. And it may also be profitable for us here to observe, the efficacy of that purchase or redemption that had such great effects even in the old world so many ages before Christ appeared himself to purchase redemption, that his blood should have such great efficacy so long before it was shed.