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ABRAHAM REJOICING TO SEE CHRIST'S DAY AFAR OFF.*
Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.JOHN VIII. 56.
THE Jews, as you will see in the preceding part of the chapter, valued themselves exceedingly upon this account, that they were the natural seed and posterity of Abraham, the father of the faithful; and they were offended at our Lord, for comparing himself to Abraham, ver. 52, 53. Our Lord, in the words that I have read, proves, that he was greater than Abraham; namely, because Abraham, having received a promise of the Messiah to come of his lineage, earnestly desired to see that happy day: and, accordingly, though he did not see the real incarnation of the Messiah, yet he got a sight of it by faith, to the unspeakable joy and admiration of his soul: Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad. In which words we may notice,
1st, Abraham's ambition and desire; he rejoiced to see my day.
2dly, Abraham's sight, by faith; he saw the day of the Messiah.
3dly, Abraham's frame, which was the fruit of his faith; he was glad.
1st, I say, we have the height of Abraham's ambition and desire expressed in these words, Abraham rejoiced to see my day.. The word yararo signifies, he leaped at it. Though the word is commonly put for rejoicing, yet here, it must rather signify a transport of desire, than of joy: otherwise there would be a tautology in the latter clause of the verse, where it is said again, He saw it, and was glad. The notices he had received of the Messiah to come, had raised in him an expectation of something, which was so exceedingly great, that he reached out, and stretched himself forth to see it. He never leaped so much to see the promised land, that God was to give to his posterity, as to see the day of the Son of man.
Observe, That they who observe the dawnings of the Sun of righteousness, cannot but wish to see his rising. The mystery of redemption, is that which angels desire to look
* A Thanksgiving Sermon.
into; much more should we, that are more immediately concerned in it.
2dly, We have Abraham's sight of faith; he saw it, that is, he saw the day of the Messiah; he saw it by the spirit of prophecy, he saw it by the eye of faith acting upon that promise, “ In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.” And he had his faith confirmed by the sight of Melchisedec, one “ made like unto the Son of God, the Priest of the most high God, and King of peace, and of righteousness.” He saw the angel of the covenant, with two other angels, in the plains of Mamre. And in offering Isaac, and the ram in the room of Isaac, he saw a double type of the great sacrifice that was to be offered up in the fulness of time. And his calling the place Jehovah Jireh, “In the mount of the Lord it shall be seen,” says, that he saw something more in it, than others did, which time would produce.
3dly, We have Abraham's frame as the fruit of his faith; he was glad. He was glad of the Lord's favour and kindness to himself, and of the mercy, grace, and love, which he saw God had in store for all the nations of the earth, in the promised seed. But the words will be farther cleared, in taking notice of the following observations from them :
Obs. 1st, That the tiine of the gospel is the day of Christ, in a way of eminency and excellency.
2dly, That the Old Testament saints breathed and longed much for a sight of the gospel day, and for the actual coming of the great Messiah. Abraham here leaped, as the word signifies, through the strength of desire after it.
3dly, That even the panting desires of the soul after Christ, though he be not enjoyed in a sensible way, are accompanied with a great deal of joy. So Abraham rejoiced to see my day; or his desire after it was that which filled him with a holy joy.
4thly, That the breathing or longing desires of the soul aster Christ shall not be disappointed. Abraham, though he did not see the Messiah actually manifested in the flesh, yet he got such a sight of him, and his day, as yielded a great deal of satisfaction and joy.
5thly, That faith is the eye of the soul, by which it takes up Christ, and the glorious blessings that come along with him, as held out in the revelation of the word. So here Abraham saw the day of Christ, by faith acting upon the promises and types of him, that were presented before his view.
6thly, That faith acting upon the promise, will see Christ through many veils, and at a prodigious distance. Thus we are told, Heb. xi. 13, that Abraham, and others, saw the pro
mises of Christ afar off, and they embraced them. Faith is a quick-sighted grace, it takes up things at a vast distance.
7thly, That faith's views and uptakings of Christ fill the soul with joy and gladness. “Whom, having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable, and full of glory," 1 Pet. i. 8.
I shall abstract from all these doctrines, and discourse a little
upon the words themselves. And speak a little,
I. Of the day of Christ.
IV. Whence it is, that a sight of Christ, and of the day of Christ, brings such joy and gladness.
I. The first thing is to discourse of the day of Christ. And here I will tell you,
Isl, Of some notable days of the Son of man. 2dly, Give you some qualities of the day of Christ. 3dly, Some notable sights that are to be seen in his day.
1st, I would tell you of some notable days of the Son of
1. There is the day of his eternal destination to be your Redeemer. This is a day of a more ancient date, than the day of the world's creation; for he was verily foreordained before the world was made. “I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, ere ever the world was.” Of this day the psalmist speaks, Psal. ii., “ Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee. I will declare the decree; the Lord hath said unto me." Which decree was fully manifested in his resurrection from the dead, as the apostle Peter shows, Acts ii. All the prophecies, promises, and types of the Old Testament, were nothing else but so many gradual openings of what was concerted in the council of
from eternity 2. There was the day of his actual incarnation, or manifestation in the fiesh. When the eternal Son of God was made of a woman, made under the law. This was the most surprising day that ever the world had seen; a more remarkable day than that, when the foundations of the world were laid. This was a day in which a host of angels was despatched from the throne of glory, to proclaim the glad news to the shepherds, Luke ii. : “ I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people: for unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” 3. The day of his solemn inauguration and instalment into
his mediatory office. This was a day of great solemnity; then the heavens were opened to him, and a voice issued out from heaven, saying, "This is my beloved Son, in whom 1 am well pleased:" and the Spirit of the Lord descended on him, in the likeness of a dove. Never such an ordination of a. minister as this of Christ; for that day he was "anointed with the oil of gladness above his fellows."
4. Another notable day of Christ was the day of his oblation or death, when "by one offering he for ever perfected them that are sanctified." That day the work of our redemption was perfected in a way of purchase. Hence it was, he cried out, "It is finished, and bowed his head, and gave up the ghost." This day, the little stone cut out of the mountain, which broke in pieces the kings and kingdoms of the earth, was himself broken in pieces, by the heavy hammer of his Father's wrath. Oh! was it not a notable day, when the Father drew his glittering sword against his only and beloved Son, and bathed it in his blood for our sins; wounded him for our iniquities, and cried, "Awake, O sword, against the man that is my fellow?"
5. The day of his resurrection was a notable day; for then, and thereby, was fulfilled the sign of the prophet Jonas, which was the consummating evidence of his Messiahship, Rom. i. 4. He was "declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead." Was it not a remarkable day, when Christ as our Surety having descended into the grave, he came forth again as our Surety, like Samson, carrying the gates and bars of the prison along with him, crying to his friends, "I am he that liveth, and was dead, and behold I am alive for evermore, and have the keys of hell and death." "And because I live, ye shall live also." His resurrection is our discharge of the debt, and we are "raised up together with him." Christ's resurrection was a greater miracle, than if all the race of Adam had been brought out of the grave in a moment: for he had the heavy stone of the curse of God, and of our sins lying upon him. And who could roll away this "stone from the door of the sepulchre?" and yet it was not possible that he should be held therein. "He was taken from prison and from judgment."
6. The day of his solemn ascension into heaven, and his sitting down on the right hand of the majesty on high," Heb. There was but little of the solemnity of that day seen by the inhabitants of this world; only the disciples, when upon Mount Olivet, in company with him, stood gazing up into heaven as he passed out of their sight. But O! it was a day of great solemnity in the eyes of the invisible world of spirits!
All the trumpets of heaven sounded, and all the fiery chariots of angels attended him in his passage; “God is gone up with a shout, the Lord with the sound of a trumpet. Sing praises to God, sing praises : sing praises unto our King, sing praises,” Psal. xlvii. 5, 6: and Ixviii. 17: “ The chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands of angels: the Lord is among them as in Sinai, in the holy place.”
7. The day of Pentecost was a remarkable day, when, like a mighty Prince newly come to the throne, he scattered his gifts among his subjects; when, like “The rushing of a mighty wind," the Spirit was poured out from on high, in his miraculous and extraordinary gifts, endowing the apostles and others with the gift of tongues, in order to propagate and spread the gospel among all nations of the world, and when some thousands of sinners (several of whom had their hands dipped in the blood of Christ) were converted to his obedience.
8. The day of his manifestation by the gospel, especially among the Gentile nations, is a notable day of the Son of
When the partition wall between Jew and Gentile was broken down, Eph. iii. 14; the Old Testament economy unhinged, and the waters of the sanctuary, which were pent up in the typical temple, began to run down to the valley of Shittim, and water the uncultivated nations, that were “ aliens to the cominonwealth of Israel;" the preaching of the gospel to the Gentiles was such a notable day of the Son of man, that it is made a great branch “ of the mystery of godliness, 1 Tim. jii. 16. This day was fulfilled the old prophecy of Jacob, that to “Shiloh should the gathering of the people be, and the promise made to Abraham, “In thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed.” And that of Isaiah, chap. xi. 10: “ There shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign to the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek.”
9. The day of his marriage and coronation is a remarkable day of Christ, when the poor sinner, who was “in covenant with hell,” “ lying among the pots,” under the sentence of death, and the curse of the law, is taken and betrothed to the Son of God; and he says to it, “ Thy Maker is thine Husband, (the Lord of hosts is his name.") That day there is a new crown of glory set upon his head, and a royal diadem put in his hand; “Go forth, Oye daughters of Zion, and be hold King Solomon with the crown wherewith his mother crowned him in the day of his espousals, and in a day of the gladness of his heart." This day makes little noise in this world, but it makes a great noise in heaven; " for there is joy in heaven at the conversion of one sinner.”
10. The day of the renewed visits that he makes to the