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Among the Canaanites, Abraham lived as those who were well acquainted with Jehovah. He even there found a king, *Melchisedec, who ruled his people in righteousness and peace, and officiated at the altar, as priest of the most high God; a man who, on both these accounts, was a remarkable type of Christ. Abraham honored him for his rank and pi. ety, and priestly character, and received as a distinguished favor, his blessing.
Over Gerar in Philistia, reigned Abimelech, an upright man, who acknowledged and feared Jehovah. All these nations must have been solemnly impressed with the majesty and holiness of God, in the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.
The Egyptians early fell into idolatry, but the God of Abraham was terrible among them. And in subsequent ages, he must have been extensively known by the piety of Joseph, the religion of the Hebrews, and more especially, by the plagues upon Pharaoh and the nation, in the days of Moses.
It may be inquired why, if there was so much knowledge of the true God in the world, was Abraham called? It was no doubt, in part perspective. The clouds of pagan darkness were fast overshadowing the earth. In a little time, the knowledge of Jehovah, of his name, his worship and his laws, would be banished from among men, without some special provision for its preservation, and the earth would be in complete subjection to the prince of darkness.
Descent of the Church in the line of Patriarchs. Prophecy respecting Shiloh. Joseph.
Residence of the Church in Egypt. Her deliverance from bondage. Plagues of Egypt. Institution of the Passover. Baptism of the Church. Murmurings of the Israelites. Their typical journey.
If there was true piety elsewhere in the earth, still wé are now to contemplate the Church of God embodied in the family of Abraham, and sealed with the seal of circumcision. God confirmed to Isaac the promises made to his father, “in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed." In his youth, profane Esau sold his birthright for a trifle to Jacob his younger brother; thus in the freedom and wickedness of his own heart, accomplishing, though he meant not so, a purpose of divine sovereignty; “For the children,
being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God, according to election, might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth; it was said unto her, (Rebecca) the elder shall serve the younger.* Zealous for the execution of the divine purpose thus revealed to her;—. revealed, no doubt, that it might be accomplished, his mother craftily diverted the blessing from Esau to Jacob. Esau having in the folly and wickedness of his heart, cast away his birthright, was angry with Jacob, and sought to kill him; so that Jacob fled into Mesopotamia, to his mother's rela. tives. Driven from his home, a lone wanderer, night over. took him without a shelter or a friend, and he laid himself down in the open air, with a stone for his pillow. But God was there. In a dream, he saw a ladder standing on the earth and reaching unto heaven, on which the angels of God ascended and descended. Above it stood the Lord God, who assured him that he was the God of his fathers, and would give him and his seed the land of Canaan, and that in him all the nations of the earth should be blessed. In this manner did God exhibit to him his providence, administered by angels, and renew the covenant containing the precious promises. When Jacob awoke, his soul was deeply impressed with the presence of God, and he said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I knew it not. How dreadful is this place! this is none other but the house of God! and this is the gate of heaven.” He erected his pillow for a monument, and sealed himself to be the Lord's.
Jacob was worthy of the sacred trust. He was a man of prayer. He wrestled with Christ, the angel of the covenant. He vowed unto the Lord, and performed his oaths. His blessings and his trials were uncommonly great; but in the height of prosperity, while master of two bands, he was meek, and humble, and grateful; and, when all things went against him, and he seemed about to be stripped of all his heart held dear, he was patient and submissive, and committed himself to Him who judgeth righteously in the earth.
From Jacob descended twelve sons, who, by a mysterious providence, were removed, according to the revelation of God made to Abraham, to Egypt; there to reside in bondage many years. Before the venerable man died, he utter. ed a more remarkable prophecy of Christ than any the church had as yet received a prophecy in which not only the line was pointed out in which Messiah should come, but
* Romans ix. 11.
the time of his appearance was marked with great precision. " Judah,” said he, in blessing his sons, “ is a lion's whelp; from the prey, my son, thou art gone up; he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion, who shall rouse him? The sceptre shall not depart from Judah; nor a law giver from between his feet, until Shiloh come, and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.” In conformity with this prediction and promise, Judah was never without a ruler and lawgiver, until subdued by the Romans, when Shiloh or Christ came; and when Jesus Christ appeared in Judah, then departed ruler and lawgiver; and these have never since been known in her borders.
Jacob was born in the year of the world 2168. He was 75 years of age when he fled into Mesopotamia. He came into Egypt in 2298, and died 17 years after, being 147 years of age. When he came into Egypt, the visible church of God consisted of 70 souls. . A single instance of humble piety in that distant age of the world, even in the most retired walks of life, is refreshing to the soul. But we have exhibited to us a lovely youth, who, in the providence of God, was exalted almost to roy. alty, and became a father to his people; who feared God; · resisted the most powerful allurements to sin; kept his garments white amid an adulterous generation, and stands forth an illustrious monument of the power of divine grace. This was Joseph, the eleventh son of Jacob. Moved with envy, his brethren sold him for a slave. But he became the deliverer of his people and temporal savior of the Egyptian nation. His history is one of the most beautiful, pathetic, interesting and instructive tales which was ever written, and remarkably exhibits the overruling providence of God. His envious brethren sold him; but it was God who carried him into Egypt for the execution of his purposes.
During their long residence in Egypt, the chosen people of God multiplied astonishingly, though oppressed by a most cruel bondage; but having no religious ordinances, Sabbaths, or instruction, they in a great measure lost the true religion, and polluted themselves “ with the idols of Egypt."*
Their bondage was a lively picture of the natural state of the true Israel; who were bond servants to sin, and in bondage to the law as a covenant of works.
The church was suffered to decline, that the seed of the woman might gain the more illustrious victory over the
* Ezekiel xx. 7.
prince of darkness. The children of Israel, having served a heathen prince more than 200 years, until they had increased to two millions of souls, God determined to bring them out of bondage, in fulfilment of his promise to Abraham, with a high hand, and a strong arm, amid many signs and wonders, and to magnify himself before all people.
The instrument by which he resolved to effect this deliverance was Moses, the son of a Hebrew woman, who, to avoid destruction by the Egyptians, was hid by his mother in an ark in the bulrushes, by the river's brink; where he was discovered by Pharaoh's daughter as she came to bathe, and adopted by her as her own son. In the court of Pharaoh, he was trained up in all the learning of the Egyptians; and if we may credit Josephus, was made a general in their armies, fought many battles, and was considered heir to the crown. But “ by faith he refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt, for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward.” He had a holy confidence in the promises of God, and he turned his eye and heart from the crown of Egypt, to the deliverance of his brethren from their cruel bondage. Failing in some premature efforts to accomplish this, he fled to Midian, to Jethro, a priest, whose daughter he married, and with whom he lived forty years. Here he might have remained till death, had not Almighty God spoken to him out of the burning bush, and assured him of his design to deliver the Israelites by his hand. Obedient to the heavenly command, he left Jethro ; and taking with him Aaron his brother, he appeared before Pharaoh, and demanded the release of the children of Israel. That haughty monarch repulsed him with scorn. Then ensued such a series of judgments, as no nation before or since ever knew. Their river was turned into blood. Frogs, and lice, and flies filled all their habitations. Murrain was on all their cattle. Boils. covered man and beast. Rain and hail mingled with fire, descended upon their land. Devouring locusts rested on all their coasts. A supernatural darkness that might be felt, overspread the earth. And last and heaviest of all, the first born, “ from the first born of Pharaoh, that sat upon the throne, to the first born of the maid that was behind the mill,” became in one night, cold and silent corpses,
The Egyptians were accustomed to divination. They had their diviners, enchanters, witches, charmers, wizards and necromancers. These were called in to confront Moses; and, as they pretended by their magical arts to perform the same wonders, the heart of Pharaoh was more and more hardened against the Lord. But God moved on to the accomplishment of his purposes. The church was his, and it he would redeem from the iron furnace. -
On an ever memorable night, the Passover was instituted. It was then to be celebrated by the Israelites, as a token, or means of their deliverance, and afterwards, as a memorial of the power and love of God in their redemption, and a prefiguration of Christ our Passover. Scarce had they eaten the paschal Lamb, when there was a cry made throughout all the land of Egypt; for it was the moment of the execution of the last and heaviest of God's judgments. And the Egyptians pressed them to depart, for they said, “ we be all dead men." And they arose and went, for the Lord was their helper. But no sooner was their departure known to Pharaoh, than he pursued them with all his hosts, and overtook them as they were encamped on the banks of the Red Sea. It was a dreadful moment. The sea before and the Egyptians behind, no chance of escape appeared; and they said unto Moses, “ Because there were no graves in the land of Egypt, hast thou brought us here to die in the wilderness?" But Moses said, “ Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord.” And he stretched out his hand over the sea, and the sea divided, and the children of Israel passed through on dry ground; the Lord going before them in a pillar of fire and of cloud. The presumptuous Egyptians pressed after; but the Lord caused the waters to enclose and cover them; and there they slept the sleep of death.
The exit of the children of Israel from Egypt, took place in the 2513th of the world, 1491 years before the birth of Christ, 430 years from Abraham's coming into Canaan, and 215 from Jacob's descent into Egypt. Their number was about two millions. It was an event typical of the redemption of the Church from the bondage of sin and death, and must have deeply and solemnly impressed the surrounding nations, with the majesty, power, holiness and wrath of God, and the value he placed on his chosen people.
The Apostle Paul remarks, that all the Israelites were · baptised unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea. They were literally so, from the drops of water which were sprink