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with a new and lovely aspect, and the whole world seems, as it were, to arise from the dead. For all ever consider, that the spring is the most delightful time of the year; as the poet sings,
Now every tree its leafy pride resumes,
And there are many who have been of opinion, and have said, that it was in this season of the year that the world was first created: and that agrees also with the scriptures, which make the vernal month, that is, our March or April, to be the first month of the year.
In like manner also, the kingdom of grace peculiar to this Ruler brings to us the all-gladdening and plenteous time of spiritual delight; wherein, this Messiah freely gives unto us righteousness and the fear of God; whereby we, as green, flourishing, and fragrant plants, grow up in him and bring forth fruit. For he is our sun of righteousness, which now comes near unto us that he might shed upon us his light and life; as it is said in Malachi, "But unto you that fear my name, shall the sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings."
And that he might do all these things by signs, it was his will, to abolish death and to begin this his kingdom of a new and eternal righteousness by his resurrection, in the time of spring, when all nature returns to life: whereas before, he was born into the world in the middle of winter: which was to signify, that he undertook for our sakes the dark and dreadful burden of sin, misery, and death, to which, the human race were subjected: and he bore the tempestuous season of this winter for upwards of thirty-three years.
For as, in this prophetic description, by the time of spring is signified the saving and life-giving time of the grace of God, which has dawned upon us through the Messiah the Son of God: so, on the contrary, by the time of winter the opposite is signified: that is, the time of the wrath of God under sin, into which the whole human race have been plunged by nature since the time of their first parents, by their fall. And God, under
this order of the times and seasons, has as it were shadowed and set forth similitudes, whereby to present unto us these different states of sin and grace; that we might, by the different changes of the seasons, be continually reminded of these things until the last day, (when there shall be another and a new heaven and earth, and another order of things,) and that we might thus be brought to think upon these great matters, and learn to make a practical use of them each day of our lives. And may God grant, that our eyes and ears may be attentive to the admonitions which the seasons thus afford us.
According therefore to this spiritual representation of things contained in the changes of the seasons, Adam, the first of the human race, may rightly be said to have first lived in the all-delightful time of spring; (seeing that, he was created in the very time of spring, as being the time in which the world also was first made;) but, by sin, he cast himself into the dreadful time of winter, until God, by this all-gracious sun, his dear Son, dispelled the awful winter, and restored this new spring, and again established an eternal church, which he still goes on to gather together, that it may hereafter live in the eternal enjoyment of God. And now this wonderful change, or, as the Psalm speaks, these years of the right hand of the Most High, have begun, he who lives in this new and eternal spring, shall never die: and, he who dies in that dreadful winter, shall never live:: that is, as Christ saith, "He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved: but he that believeth not, shall be damned." For, on the latter, that eternal sun, concerning which David here speaks, is gone down and has set for ever: but, on the former, he arises and shines in his eternal light.
Nor is this the only thing that is intended by this mention of the spring and the winter: but it more especially refers to that great secret of the prophetic doctrine, that the kingdom or dominion of the Messiah, would not be like the political economy of Moses. For that polity and government of Moses, is the ministration of the law; by which, sin is not only not taken away,
but is really increased; or as Paul saith, becomes “ exceeding sinful." Because, the law shows how great and terrible sin is; and men by it are accused and condemned; and being by it cast into horrid fears, they not only begin to hate the judgment of God, and the law itself, by the sentence of which they feel themselves so condemned and killed, but also flee away from God; as Paul wonderfully and copiously sets forth, this office of the law, and the effects of it.
This is indeed to stand at the foot of Mount Sinai, while it horribly shakes and trembles with thunderings and lightnings, being made to rock from its foundation; and while there is such a terror produced all around, that it seems as if heaven and earth were rushing toge ther. And in truth the light and rays of the sun were darkened with far more heavy and thick clouds than if it had been in the middle of the freezing winter, though it was then the time of spring to this visible world when the light of the sun occasionally beams forth; but, at that time, he was so far removed that his rays had no effect whatever. So the nations and the ungodly, who are without the law, and lie buried in the winter under their sins, live in greater security, and, as they imagine to themselves, far more happily than the people of God; because they, even in the time of their spring, endure the terrible tempests of law terrors, which are as thunderings and lightnings. For when that all-fair sun, Christ the Son of God, does not shine into their minds with his splendour, they have none of the joys of the spring to delight or refresh them; but Moses fills all things with terror and death by the heavy tempest of his law. Thus, the storms and tempests which variously infest this our air and atmosphere, are to us as perpetual prophets and teachers, shewing us, that it is the same with the minds and consciences of men, and that the
godly are often thus overwhelmed with the terrors of the law; who, nevertheless, as Paul saith, are not under the law, but under grace.
But however, as David saith, after the times of
Moses and the Prophets that joyful time of the Messiah succeeds, when the ZUR, or Rock himself of Israel reigns, that he might by his free bounty plentifully bestow upon us righteousness and eternal life. This, I say, is that delightful and joyful season, when the whole face of things is changed, as in the spring, to a new and all-gladdening aspect; when, before the clear shining, a genial shower has fallen; that is, when the sweet and healthful voice of the Gospel is heard, and afterwards the sun himself, Christ, arises in our hearts, and they are raised up and enabled to receive the consolation, the clouds and storms of Moses, together with the thunderings and lightnings of his law, being wholly dispelled.--Hereupon, all things truly look green, flourish, and blossom. There is a new light, and a day full of new joy, gladness, and life; like unto which, there is no time in the whole of this world's year. Now, all that tempest and winter of clouds, thunderings, sin, death, and all kinds of terrors, are overcome, dispersed, and utterly disappear; and there arises an all-clear and allgladdening day of a new and eternal Passover, or of victorious rejoicing in our risen, living, and eternally reigning Lord.
This is what David means, when he says, that the government of the Messiah, his Son, is like unto that spring day, when, after a morning of copious and genial rain, the sun rises with a sweet serenity, and shines forth and clothes all things with verdure and beauty. And among many other testimonies, Lactantius thus describes the time of the resurrection of Christ,
Behold! the beauties of the new-born world,
For my house is not so before God: because he hath made with me an everlasting covenant ordered in all things and sure.
It has been before observed, that the meaning of these words is the same as that which is found in 2 Sam. vii. 18, "Who am I, O Lord, and what is my house?" As though he had said, Surely my house is not such, nor so great, that it should in the eyes of God be worthy of so infinite an honour and blessing, as that the Messiah should be born from it, the Rock of Israel, the Son of God, the just God, the just ruler among men! Thus, in these words, he casts himself with all humility and self-abasement at the feet of God, as if astonished at so wonderful a gift of God,-that God should will to effect such mighty things from his flesh and his blood.
And, with respect to the everlasting covenant, and the house of David, and how this promise was fulfilled in his house, upon these things I have spoken with sufficient fulness in another work, which I wrote concerning the Jews and their shameless lies: and perhaps some other occasion, besides the present, may offer for saying more upon that subject.
But those Hebrew terms ARUCHA and SEMURA, which are found in this place, are not made use of to no purpose: the former of which signifies 'ordered,' or, 'rightly ordered in all things: the latter signifies, 'kept sure and safe,' or, 'become sure and established by fact and observation.' These words, I say, are added purposely both for doctrine and consolation. For if one take a cursory view only of the history of the events relative to the people of God, or the political Israel, and consider them just as they present themselves at first sight, as it were, it will seem, as to first appearance, that what is here so grandly declared, was by no means performed to that people. Nay, reason and human wisdom will judge just the contrary;-that God utterly forgot his covenant, and did nothing that he had promised; seeing that, there are so many scenes of confusion, trouble, and