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SERMON VII.

CHRIST JESUS GOD FROM EVERLASTING.

JOHN VIII. 56-58.

YOUR FATHER ABRAHAM REJOICED TO SEE MY DAY :

AND HE SAW IT, AND WAS GLAD. THEN SAID THE JEWS UNTO HIM, THOU ART NOT YET FIFTY YEARS OLD, AND HAST THOU SEEN ABRAHAM ? JESUS SAID UNTO THEM, VERILY, VERILY, I SAY UNTO YOU, BEFORE ABRAHAM WAS, I AM.

So greatly did the Jews rely upon the

promises of God to Abraham, the Father of the Faithful ; that at last they began to think their Salvation insured, from the mere circumstance of being his descendants. In the time of our Saviour's Ministry, the spirit of their Law had become quite a secondary matter to the formal observance of the rites, and ceremonies, connected with it by Moses.

And one great consequence of their corruption, in thus preferring the mere ceremonial to the vital, and spiritual, matters contained in the Law, was their astonishing blindness as to the real Messiah.

But for this cause, a blindness of heart foreseen by Moses, and foretold by many of their Prophets; it were impossible to account for their rejection, and crucifixion of our Lord Jesus Christ. Yet was this not only a means of punishment to the Jews of that wicked, and perverse, generation ; but, also, like every dispensation of the Most High, a positive mercy to the rest of mankind.

Nevertheless, how great soever our joy at the Salvation extended to the Gentiles; we may not insultingly triumph over our Jewish brethren. · For St. Paul, our own great Apostle, thus tells the Gentiles, in the 11th chapter of his Epistle to the Romans. “ I would not, brethren, that

ye should be ignorant of this mystery,

lest

ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved ; as it is written,

There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob. For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take

away

their sins.” Let us first revert to the promise made to Adam, and Eve, in Paradise, that the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head; or, in its fuller meaning, that her offspring should overcome the wiles of Satan, that old serpent the Devil, as he is elsewhere called in Scripture.

Abel preserved this faithful promise in his heart, and was obedient unto God his Redeemer, until he became the first Martyr of his holy Church Triumphant; a Type in his innocence, and cruel Death, of the

great

Saviour of mankind.

After Cain's banishment, Seth was born of Adam and Eve; and he handed down to his posterity the knowledge, and the promise of the true God. From him descended Noah and his family, whose faith saved them from that universal Flood which overwhelmed all the rest of mankind; when the just judgment of their Creator destroyed the Old World : of which there are evident marks

throughout the present Earth which we inhabit.

From Shem, the son of Noah, through a progressive descent of many generations, was born Abraham ; of whom the Jews spake unto Jesus of Nazareth in the words of our Text. Now, according to the best Chronologers, Abraham died just 1821 years before Jesus was born at Bethlehem in Judea; a circumstance sufficient in itself to cause their exclamation.

Indeed, we ourselves would exclaim against any person, who told us, now that the

very same number of years has elapsed since our Saviour's Nativity ; that he had seen our Lord Jesus Christ at the time of his Ministry in Judea.

And yet such is the light fallen upon us by the preaching of his Gospel, through the promised Comforter's Divine assistance; that we have embraced that faith of Abraham, who lived near four thousand years before us; which the Jews to this hour positively continue to reject.

To Abraham, who is called in Scripture, the Father of the Faithful, God repeatedly promised that in his seed should all the nations of the Earth be blessed. A promise renewed, from time to time, to various pious, and faithful, servants of God, descendants of Abraham ; and gradually made clearer, until the time that Revelation ceased for three hundred

years

in Israel. When Malachi, the last of the Prophets, foretold; “the Lord whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his Temple, even the messenger of the Covenant, whom ye delight in : behold he shall come, saith the Lord of Hosts." “ Unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of Righteousness arise with healing in His wings." member

ye

the Law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb; for all Israel, with the statutes, and judgments. Behold I will send you Elijah the Prophet, before the coming of the great, and dreadful, day of the Lord : and he shall turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers; lest I smite the earth with a curse.” Such had been the gradually increasing light thrown upon the long expected Advent of their Messiah ; until in John the Baptist arose the dormant prophetic spirit once more. Resembling

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