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lowed them in a plentiful stream in the wilderness': And that rock was Christ, that is, as Tertullian, de patientia, says well, “ signified Christ :” with whom Augustine agrees, quæst. 57. in Leviticum, “ The rock was Christ, not in substance, but in signification." Let us take a survey of the similitude.
LIX. It is certain, Christ is often called a rock in scripture, on account of his eternal duration, Is. xxvi. 4. and impregnable strength, Psal. xxxi. 2. and, which is the consequence of that, a most safe habitation, Psal. Jxxi. 3. Yet I imagine these respects do not come under our present consideration. Christ is here represented by a rock only, as that gave water to quench the thirst of the Israelites.
LX. The true similitude is this. 1. This rock hath its name from a parched dry waste (for this is the meaning of Horeb in Hebrew) and seemed to promise nothing less than what it produced, namely streams, for giving water to such a number of people with their cattle. Is not Christ also ás a root out of a dry ground? Is. liii. 2. And is it not something above a prodigy, that he who complained of thirst on the cross, should call out to others, If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water, John vii. 37, 38? · 2. The rock did not produce
, water till it was smitten. Thus also it became God to make the Captain of our salvation perfect through suffers ings, Heb. ij. 10. When his side was pierced with the spear, immediately there issued out blood and water, John xix. 34. And by this means he became a founlain opened to the house of David, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin, and for uncleanness, Zech. xiii. 1. 3. Nor was it lawful to smite the rock with any other instrument than the rod of the Lawgiver : to intimate,
that Christ was to undergo the same sufferings, and the same curse, threatened by the law to the sinner man, Gal. iii. 13. 4. The smiting of the rock was performed in the sight of the elders of the murmuring people. At the loud clamour of an enraged multitude, and at the desire of the elders, many of them also standing by, Christ was nailed to the cross, Matth. xxvii. 41. 5. The majesty of the Supreme Being displayed itself on the top of the rock. When Christ suffered, did he not, even at that time, so vail himself as if he was void of divine glory? But they who were most unwilling to own it, were obliged to confess it, Matth. xxvii. 54. 6. Such a quantity of water flowed from the rock, that was sufficient not only to quench the thirst of the Israelites, but also to follow them in streams, whithersoever they travelled in the wilderness, Psal. lxxviii. 15, 20. Psal. cv. 41. Thus also the abundance of grace that is in Christ, makes our cup to overflow, and goodness and mercy to follow us all the days of our life, Psal. xxiii. 5, 6..
LXI. What we have recorded, Numb. xx. 8. is difa ferent from this history, and is likewise mystica). There Moses is commanded indeed, not to smite the rock with his rod, but only to speak unto the rock, before the eyes of the Israelites, in order to its producing water. By which, it seems, was signified, that Christ ought to suffer but once, and that his one offering was sufficient for perfecting believers, Heb. ix. 27, 28.
. Heb. x. 14. The efficacy of which was to be dispensed to the elect by the preaching of the gospel. But Moses, contrary to the will of the precept, though ac-. cording to the will of the divine decree, in smiting the rock twice, was a type of those who wickedly indeed, but by the determinate counsel of God, persecute over VOL. III.
again, and evil entreat Christ, after once suffering on the cross, in his mystical body, Acts ix. 4. Col. i. 26. As out of the rock, which was smitten twice, there issued out much. water, and the congregation drank, Numb. xx. 11. so, in like manner, even the afflictions of believers have turned out to the advantage of the church, Phị. i. 12. The blood of the martyrs, like a fructifying rain, has watered the paradise of God; and
; the sparks, flying every way from their funeral piles, have far and near kindled a new light of faith, and new flames of love : so that the church never experienced a greater abundance of divine consolations, than when she was forced to endure the heaviest strokes of persecution, Yet as Moses himself, who was so faithful, so dear to God, was for this very thing excluded the land of Canaan, Numb. xx. 11. so none of these persecutors shall go unpunished for this their rash presumption, Psal. cv. 14. 2 Thess. i. 6.
LXII. There now remains the sacrament of the brazen serpent, whose history recorded Numb. xxi. 6. Bochart has distinctly.explained, Hierozoic. p. 2. lib. 3. c. 13. The sum of which is this. The Israelites, for murmuring against God, and against Moses, and speaking with contempt of the heavenly manna, incurred the heavy displeasure of the Deity. And therefore serpents were sent among them, to bite the people, and immediately cut off many by an infectious calamity. The scripture calls these serpents seraphim ; which name they have in common with the most exalted angels, and is derived from burning ; but are so called, because they send a flame out of their mouth, and burn by their venomous breath. The Greeks call some serpents from their heat, PRESTERAS and K AUSONAS. But whether seraph here denotes a water-serpent, or an amphibious serpent, which is Bochart's opinion, or any other
species of serpents, is neither so very certain, nor much our concern to know. It is more profitable to consider, how the divine mercy, importuned by the complaints of the people, and the confession of their sin, and the prayers of Moses, afforded a present remedy for so great an evil. At the direction of God, a brazen serpent was framed by Moses, and put upon a pole ; that whoever looked upon it, when it was thus erected, might find a most infallible cure for the mortal bites of the serpents : which also the event plainly proved. Three things are here distinctly to be observed. 1. The misery of the people. 2. God's favor and goodness. 3. The duty required of man, in order to his partaking of that goodness.
LXIII. In the misery of the people, we are to consider both the sin and the punishment of it.
It was a sin, to throw contempt upon the manna, and to murmur against God and against Moses.
The depraved corruption of nature scarce any where more plainly shews itself, than in the people of Israel ; who, though
; loaded with so many benefits by God, so often chastis, ed with paternal rods, yet incessantly returned to their natural disposition. Nor do they rise up against Moses alone, by whose means they had escaped so many dangers, but against God himself, who was present among them, by such extraordinary signs of his majesty: and with a frantic wantonness loath the manna, even the heavenly manna, which they had lately received with so much eagerness.
Does not this plainly argue the unconquerable depravity of our nature, and the incredible abuse of the divine beneficence in man, when left to himself? And as we are all of the same frame, we may behold a specimen of our own perverseness in the Israelites.
LXIV. The punishment consequent on the sin, was the bites of fiery serpents ; by which it is not improperly imagined, are shadowed forth the suggestions of the devil, when he tempts to despair, and which Paul calls the fiery darts of Satan, Eph. vi. 16. and which spread their poison through every part,
For the devils are truly seraphim ; who, as in their first creation, they shone fair with the flames of divine love, so after their sin became horrid and scorching serpents. As themselves are scorched with the fire of divine vengeance, so they burn with rage against God and his people. And indeed they are justly given up to the vexations of Satan, who contemptuously reject the word of the gospel, and the grace of God in Christ, which is sweeter than any manna ; or blaspheme against God himself, as Hymeneus and Alexander, 1 Tim. i. 20.
LXV. But as those Israelites who found the bites of the serpents mortal, not being careful to obtain a cure, are an emblem of the impenitent, who despise the grace of God, and so die in their sins : so they who had recourse to Moses, confessing their sins, and imploring the grace of God, plainly signify those, whom a sense of sin, and dread of divine judgment, excite to wiser resolutions, such as those who were pricked in
; their heart, and said to Peter and the other apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do ? Acts ii. 37. and the jailor, Acts xvi. 29, 30. But for their sake, God commanded Moses to put a brazen serpent on a pole, and promised, that as many as were bitten, should, by looking to it, be cured. Indeed, I make no manner of doubt, but this serpent was a representation of Christ : for he himself asserts, John iii. 14. As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up.
This type represents the antitype several ways.