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LXVI. First, As to the form.
That the serpent was a type of the devil, not of Christ, is asserted by a learned author without any probable reason. Though the serpents, which destroyed the Israelites by their venomous bites, were a figure of the devil, yet all circumstances loudly declare the brazen serpent, which was made at God's command, and ordained to cure the bites of the other serpents, was a sacrament of Christ. Nor is it more improper to represent Christ by the figure of a serpent, than, what the learned author so often inculcates, by that of a wanton goat. The simili tude consists in the following things. 1. That Christ, though himself free from all sin, came in the likeness of sinful flesh, Rom. viii. 3. 2. That, by a voluntary covenant-engagement, he substituted himself in the room of those, who by nature, like all others, are a genera· tion of vipers, Matth. ii. 7. 3. That by virtue of that engagement, by bearing their sins, he was made sin and a curse, 2 Cor. v. 21. Gal. iii. 13 ; and so had truly the figure of a serpent, without its poison.
LXVII. Secondly,. As to the matter of it, whereby, in different respects, were represented both the vileness of the human nature, the excellence of the divine, and the efficacy of the gospel, as the learned have observed. 1. The serpent was not of gold, but of brass, · which is a meaner metal, to hold forth Christ to us, as one in whom there is no form, nor comeliness, no bearty, that we should desire him, Is. liii. 2. 2. To signify, the divine power of Christ by the firmness and durableness of brass. Whence Job vi. 12. Is my strength the strength of stones ?. or is my fiesh of brass? And in the poet, a monument is said to be more lasting than bruss. 3. As among metals brass is the most sounding. Whence Paul, 1 Cor. xii. 1. I am become as a sounding brass. Thus Christ crucified seems to be rightly set forth by
brass, as also the preaching of the cross, whose sound went into all the earth, Rom. x. 18.
LXVIII. Thirdly, As to the lifting up. This lifting up of the serpent on a pole, prefigured the lifting up of Christ, not his glorious exaltation in heaven, but his ignominious lifting up on the cross, John iii. 14. as John himself explains that phrase, John xii. 32, 33. For, according to the Syriac and the language of the Targum, to lift up, signifies to hang up on a tree. Both actions are denoted by the same term. And as Bochart has learnedly observed, that manner of speaking seems to have taken its rise from the decree of king Darius: at least it may be confirmed by that, Ezra vi. 11. Whosoever shall alter this word, let timber be pulled down from his house, and being set up, let him be hanged (put to death) thereon : set up, that is, hanged up. But holocausts, or whole burnt-offerings, called in Hebrew clevations, because they were carried upwards, signified, that Christ, when offering himself for sin, should be lifted up on the cross. Nor is it for nothing, that God would have the serpent lifted up by Moses. Because it was in consequence. of the curse, thundered out by the law given by Moses, that Christ was nailed to the cross.
LXIX. Fourthly, With respect to the benefit. As from the serpent the Israelites obtained the cure of their mortal bites; so in the wings of Christ there is healing, Mal. iv. 2. He healeth all our diseases, Psal. cii. 3. Wherefore as the Jews, depending on such a present help, little dreaded the bites and stings of the other serpents; so the believer, who relies upon Christ, and makes nothing of the assaults of devils, cries out with full assurance, 0 death, where is thy siing? i Cor.
LXX. In order to partake in so great a benefit, God required nothing of the Israelites, but to look to the brazen serpent : just so a bare look to Christ, lifted up on the cross, perfectly cures the wounds given by the devil ; namely, a look of faith, by which Moses saw him, who is invisible, Heb. xi. 27. Thus Christ himself explains it, John iïi. 14, 15. As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up; that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. If therefore any among
the Israelites were blind, or voluntarily turned away their eyes, there remained no hope of salvation for them : 50 neither at this day for unbelievers, or for those that rebel against the light, Job xxiv. 13. or for those, whose minds the god of this world hath blinded, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ should shine unto them, 2 Cor. iv. 4. Yet as even a weak sight might be saving; so a faith still in a state of weakness, if it be genuine and sincere, rescues us from death: and as whoever was once bit and cured by the sight of the serpent, if again bit, he was to have recourse to the same remedy ; so if, after our restoration, we fall again into sin, the same faith succours, as before.
Of the Blessings of the Old Testament.
As the Old Testament is nothing but the covenant
of grace, as it was dispensed before Christ came in the flesh, it is necessary, that all the blessings or good things, which were promised by the covenant of grace, as such, have likewise a place in the Old Testament.
But the benefits of the covenant of grace are eternal salvation, and whatever has a necessary connection therewith ; such as, regeneration, vocation by the word and Spirit of grace, faith, justification, spiritual peace, adoption, and, in a word, all the particulars explained in the preceding book. Though most of these are much more eminent under the New Testament, yet all of them, as to their substance, were conferred even under the Old, as this is evident from the nature of the thing, and from what we have proved before. We shall only treat of the good things peculiar to the Old Testament, especially under the Mosaic dispensation.
II. And they are five. I. The election of the Israelites for a peculiar people.
II. The inheritance of the land of Canaan. III. The familiar demonstration and inhabitation of the Divine Majesty. IV. The shadowing forth of divine mysteries, and daily sealing them by a religion of ceremonies. V. An almost uninterrupted succession of inspired prophets.
III. It was certainly a great benefit, that God should chuse the people of Israel, above all other nations of the world, to have communion with himself in a most stedfast covenant. God himself declares this in these words, Deut. vii. 6. For thou art a holy people unto Jehovah thy God. Jehovah thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth. In consequence of this election, it was, 1. That Israel was called the first-born son of God, Exod. iv. 22; that is, above all other people, whose souls the same God had made, and to whom he gives life and breath, and all things : a singular people, his only beloved, lord of all the rest, having a double portion of the blessing, an inheritance, not only earthly, but also spiritual. 2. That they should be the peculiar property of God, his treasure, PERIOUSIA, and, as it were, his royal riches, which he boasts of in the world, and glories in, as his Segullah ; concerning the emphasis of which word, see what we have said, book iii. chap. xii. § 7. and chap. xiii. § 19. 3. That they again might glory in God, as in their portion. For when God took them for a people to himself, he, at the same time, gave them a right to call him their God, and to have him for their portion : as these things are joined together, Deut. xxvi. 17, 18. Thou hast avouched Jehovah this day to be thy God; and Jehovah hath avouched thee this day to be his peculiar people. Jer. x. 16. The portion of Jacob is the Former of all things; and Israel is the rod of his inherilance. 4. That they should have a right to expect the Messiah, from the midst of them, as one of their brethren, Deut. xviii. 15, 18.
IV. In these things, certainly, great was the advantage of the Jew, and much the profit of circumcision, much, I say, every way, Rom. iii. 1, 2. Hence the apostle, Rom. ix. 4, 5. in strong terms amplifies that advantage of the Jews ; who are Israclites, to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises : whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came. Yet none of these things, nay, not all of them together, if we only consider the external confederation, was sufficient to them for salvation : For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel : neither because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children, Rom. ix. 6, 7. Very many of them, notwithstanding they were the children of the kingdom, were cast out, Matth. viii. 12. Yet, in this election of the whole body of the people to the communion of a very close but yet external covenant, there was a certain
of those who were actually chosen to grace VOL. III.