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From the office of John the Baptist, which was preparatory to the doctrines of Jesus Christ, we are to learn, that no man can receive the truth of the gospel, unless he is prepared by a baptism of repentance, and is ready to forsake his sins. The counsel of God for his salvation can take no effect, till his former evil ways are given up. With an attachment to his old sins and errors, he can neither understand nor approve any thing the gospel offers to him ; but will either hate or despise it, and tempt others to do the same; as the Scribes did, who would not accept of John's baptism. Why do not all men receive the gospel, but because some have taken part with the world, the flesh, and the devil, and determine never to renounce them? To all such the
gospel is a thing of no value.
From the case of Joseph, and our blessed Saviour, hated and persecuted as they were, we should learn to suspect all those whom the world magnifies, and not trust to reports and appearances, where self-love and temporal interest are concerned to disguise things. This is a world in which truth is neglected, goodness evil spoken of, and innocence run down and persecuted. It is the constant practice of mankind to misrepresent and defame those whom they have injured, that their own injustice may not appear.
When virtue is oppressed, it is generally silent; while its oppressors never fail to be clamorous in their own vindication: and in most cases, men may distinguish where the fault lies, by the noise that is made to conceal it. When Christ was defamed, he answered not again; and his disciples also suffered in patience; while the Jews were running here and there all over the world, to tell their story, and turn the hearts of men against the gospel, that they might be prepared to disbelieve and reject it, as soon as it should come to their ears.
In the history of Joseph's brethren, you see them in distress under their wants ; not able to stay at home without starving, nor daring to go into Egypt, taking the lord of the country for their enemy. Every mortal man will suffer under the like miserable dilemma, who cannot find his happiness in the world, and dare not seek it where only it is to be found. All this happens because he does not know Jesus Christ; does not know that he is the Brother and the Friend of sinners, ready to take them under his protection, and supply all their wants; but supposes religion to be bis enemy, and expects to be roughly handled.
The brethren of Joseph did not know him ; and were distressed with fear and anxiety; the Jews did not know Christ, and are to this day wandering, restless and hopeless, about the world ; and every man will find himself in the like condition, till he discovers that the religion he is afraid of is his best friend, and that God has sent a Saviour before us to preserve life, not to destroy it.
ON THE PERSONAL FIGURES, OR TYPES, OF THE
(A CONTINUATION OF THE FORMER.)
Of all the personal figures of the Old Testament, none are so proper to answer the purpose of these Lectures, as the two characters which St. Stephen proposed to the Jews, as figures and forerunners of Jesus Christ, whom they would not have crucified if they had known him ; and they could not have failed to know him, if they had looked to those saints of old, who had foreshewed him in their lives and actions, more plainly than words could have described him.
Notice had been given of this by Moses himself; so that they ought not to have been ignorant. A prophet, said he, shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren like unto me: which words are cited by St. Stephen, and marked out for special observation: This is that Moses, who said unto the children of Israel, a prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you, like unto me: and from the use he
has made of the history of Moses, in the 7th chapter of the Acts, it appears that this likeness extends to his whole character, from his birth to his death : as we shall see when we come to examine the particulars. We are likewise taught by St. Paul, that Moses, as a minister and mediator, was faithful in his office, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after : when the Son himself, the great and final Mediator, should take the direction of the house of God, and accomplish the ministry, which is now witnessed by the ministry of Moses.
The circumstances fittest for our purpose in the history of Moses, and most remarkable in themselves, are already selected by St. Stephen: to these, therefore, I shall confine myself, and treat of them in the order in which he has laid them down. But that we may first have a distinct view of the particulars, which will come under consideration, it may be proper to observe, that the history of Moses, as here to be applied, comprehends, 1. The circumstances of his birth. 2. His qualifications and endowments as the minister of God. 3. His office as the deliverer of his people. 4. The reception he met with from the people he came to deliver.