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restraint which was laid
upon these communications under that dispensation. But there existed, for this restraint, reasons still more imperious. It was necessary, as we have seen, that in order to display the character of the Son, Christ should undertake and go through the servicework of redemption upon the ground of faith; that
he should act upon the word and promise of his Father; and, for the joy set before him, should endure the cross and dispise the shame. If, therefore, the Spirit had been previously given in free and copious measures, the glory of this work of filial obedience, would have been greatly eclipsed. Besides, as Christ is the channel of conveyance of the Spirit, the church could not receive this gist in its fulness until his sufferings were accomplished; for his receiving and dispensing the Holy Spirit of promise is the crown of his exaltation and glory; it places him upon the throne; and it could by no means consist with his state of humiliation and suffering. And, in like manner, the reception of such riches, would have been wholly incompatable with a state of the church, as shrouded in a cloud and baptismal waters, groaning and travailing in pain, in perfect conformity to the humbled state of its head.
The necessity that Christ should be exalted and glorified, that the Holy Ghost might be shed on the church abundantly, is noticed in the following passages, John vii
. 39. “ This spake he “ of the Spirit, which they that believe should “ receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet giv“ en, because that Jesus was not yet glorified”. And Acts ii. 33. “ Therefore being by the right “ hand of God exalted, and having received of “the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he “ hath shed forth this which ye now see and <hear.” This gist of the Spirit being so connected
with the exaltation of Christ, it is emphatically distinguished by its being poured upon us from on high. Moses received the Spirit, with his commissions and powers, from the burning-bush in Horeb. The request of Elisha to Elijah, that a double portion of his Spirit might be upon him, was not more than what has been spontaneously bestowed upon many latter servants of God; yet, on account of the powerful causes of restraint upon these communications then existing, Elijah said, that he had asked a hard thing.
As, therefore, the Holy Spirit of promise could not be generally dispensed to that church, it is apparent, that some other powers of government were required, and must necessarily be brought forward to remedy, in some sort, for a season, so great a deficiency. For all the gifts of the Spirit, as bestowed upon the Prophets, and Apostles, and Evangelists, and Pastors, and Teachers, &c. when associated together, are no more than sufficient for the perfecting of the church in its proper organization and government.
The disorders which took place among the sons of Jacob, discovered early, that this community could not be preserved without a more efficient government; and it was, undoubtedly, one great design of Providence, in their removal to Egypt, to provide a temporary remedy for this defect and weakness, as to the government of the society. The power and great authority that Joseph possessed in Egypt, who also was endowed with gifts of the Spirit, were suílicient, while he lived, to preserve the people in peace and good order; but, when Joseph was dead, it became necessary, for this reason principally, that they should be put under the Egyptian yoke, and be bound to hard labor, and be made to serve, incessantly, under the watchful eyes of rigorous taskmasters. And when the children of
Israel went out of Egypt, the distressing scenes of insubjection, tending to their utter ruin, which immediately opened among them, shewed the necessity of a new institution of government, and of their being placed under an administration possessing peculiar powers and energies.
Besides the glorifying power and authority of the Holy Ghost, reserved for the perfect day, there existed, as we have seen, a mighty disposable force on the side of the Redeemer. The elect angelic powers, perfectly combined, filled with zeal, and disciplined for action, awaited the orders of their high commander. These strong and inflexible authorities, so well adapted to the mediate state of the church, with their own proper law in their hands, were brought forward at Mount Sinai, and placed over the people as a lawful government. Hence, it is said, Gal. jj. 19. “ The law was ordained by angels.”
Ordaining implies high authority. This expression implies much more than that the angels were employed merely as messengers in giving the law. It would not be proper to say of the most dignified messengers einployed in carrying, or even in executing orders or decrees, thai they ordained them. And Stephen says, Acts vii. 53.
They received the law by the disposition of angels.” This imports, also, the high authority which the angels exercised in this dispensation. To make dispositions is the leading trait of government. In an army this is the eminent part of the commander in chief; and in a nation it is the first business of the chief magistrate. Again, it is said, Heb. ii. The word spoken by angels was stedfast, &c. It is plain that something more is here intended than that the angels communicated this word, i. e. the law; for there is held up in the passage a comparison between the authority of the law and of the Gospel, in the view of the
one being spoken by anyels, and the other by the Lord; which implies that the one was clothed with the authority of angels, whilst the other is clothed with the authority of the Lord himself. When a precept, or order, is issued by a prince to his subjects, clothed with his immediate authority, it makes but little difference who communicates it, whether he goes to them himself, or sends his messengers. Between such modes of communication, no comparison could be made similar to that in the passage before us. The Revelation of St. John was communicated by an. angel; but it is presumed that no one, from that circumstance, would consider the Revelation as holding an unequal comparison with the other parts or the New Testament; or that its authority should be held in any lower estimation thaix if it had been communicated by the Lord of all. ..... The conclusion, therefore, appears to be unaavoidable, that the administration of the law was a proper angelic establishment.
There are several other passages which import the same thing. I will mention, however, only one, Heb. ï. 5. For unto the angels hath he not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak. In this, and in the first chapter, a comparison is drawn between the glory of the angels, and the glory of Christ the Son. This is done with a view to illustrate the great subject of the Epistle, viz. The superior glory of the Gospel Church to that under the law. In such a connection to say, that the one world was not put in subjection to the angels, implies fully that the other was placed in that condition. Hence, it is said, as expressing the state and glory of tliat church, Psal. Ixviii. 17. The chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands of angels : The Lord, indeed, was among them in Sinai ; but he, himself, was there, clothed in angelic habits, and acted ac
cording to the angelic forms. He took upon him the form of a servant. It appears, therefore, that the elements of this dispensation were such as properly belonged to the angelic world. And as the power of fire peculiarly characterizes the constitution of that world, the law from Mount Sinai is called a fiery law. This circumstance gave Satan a mighty advantage against the church in that state. He can use this element dexterously; can make fire come down from heaven on the earth. Nothing but the power of the Holy Ghost, operating by the blood of the Lamb, i. e. the doctrine of Christ, can cast out Satan. It was for this reason that Satan fought so mightily against the change of the dispensation, and that, to this day, his agency is so manifest in proping up this constitution, long since waxen old; and now together witli its native heavens, ready to be dissolved and pass away.
The Apostlecalls the constituent powers of that church, Gal.iv.9. Weak and beggarly elemenis. But this should not be supposed to imply, that they were corrupt elements, for they were pure and holy things; nor that they were natural or common elements, for they were wholly supernatural. The propriety of the expression can only be perceived by a comparison of the constituent powers of the church under the law with those of the Gospel Church; for though that government was constituted of heavenly and angelic authorities, still they were created and dependent powers; but the Gospel administration is constituted of uncreated, self-existent powers. Mount Sinai, which was the emblem of this constitution, was shaken at the long and louder voice of the trumpet, signifying that the Lord was there; and those things that are shaken must be removed, as things which are made, that those things which cannot be shaken