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17, 18. Moses was a very faithful prophet, precisely faithful, and exact in all things that God gave him in charge, even to a pin of the tabernacle. "Moses verily was faithful in all his house, as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after; but Christ as a Son over his own house." Heb. 3:5, 6. Again, Moses confirmed his doctrine by miracles, which he wrought in the presence, and to the conviction of gainsayers. Herein Christ our Prophet is also like unto Moses, who wrought many mighty miracles, which could not be denied, and by them confirmed the Gospel which he preached. Lastly, Moses was that prophet which brought God's Israel out of literal Egypt, and Christ his out of spiritual Egypt, whereof that bondage was a figure.
He is also described by the stock and original, from which, according to his flesh, he sprang: "I will raise `him up from among thy brethren. Of Israel, as concerning the flesh, Christ came." Rom. 9:5. And "it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Judah." Heb. 7: 14. He honored that nation by his nativity. Thus the great Prophet is described.
2. Here is a strict injunction of obedience to this Prophet, "Him shall ye hear in all things." By hearing, understand obedience. So words of sense are frequently used in Scripture to signify those affections that are awakened through the senses. This obedience is required to be yielded to this Prophet only, and universally, and under great penalties. It is true, we are commanded to obey the voice of his ministers. Heb. 13: 17. But still it is Christ speaking by them whom we obey: "He that heareth you, heareth me." We obey them in the Lord, that is, as commanding or forbidding in Christ's name and authority. So when God said, "Thou shalt serve him," Deut. 6: 13; Christ expounds it exclusively, "Him only shalt thou serve." Matt. 4: 10.
He is the only Lord, Jude 4, and therefore to him only our obedience is required. And as it is due to him only, so to him universally; " Him shall ye hear in all things :" his commands are to be obeyed, not disputed. Christians are indeed to judge whether what is spoken be the will of Christ. We must "prove what is that holy, good, and acceptable will." Rom. 12: 2. "His sheep hear his voice, and a stranger they will not follow: they know his voice, but know not the voice of strangers." John, 10 4, 5. But when his will is understood and known, we have no liberty of choice, but are bound by it, be the duty commanded ever so difficult, or the sin forbidden ever so tempting: and this is also required under penalty of being destroyed from among the people, and of God's requiring it at our hands, Deut. 18, that is, avenging himself in the destruction of the disobedient. Hence, Jesus Christ is called and appointed by God to be the great Prophet and Teacher of the Church.
He is "anointed to preach good tidings to the meek," and sent to bind up the broken-hearted." Isa. 61: 1. When he came to preach the Gospel among the people, then was this Scripture fulfilled, " Yea, all things are delivered him of his Father; so that no man knoweth who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him." Matt. 11:27. All light is now collected into one body of light, the Sun of righteousness; and he "enlighteneth every man that cometh into the world." John, 1:9. And though he dispensed knowledge variously, in times past, speaking in many ways and divers manners to the fathers, yet now the method and way of revealing the will of God to us is fixed and settled in Christ in these last times he "hath spoken to us by his Son." Twice hath the Lord solemnly sealed him to this office, or approved and owned him in it by a miraculous voice from the most excellent glory. Matt. 3: 17, and Matt. 17:5
Here we are called to consider what Christ's being a Prophet to the church implies, and how he executes and discharges this his office.
I. What is implied in Christ's being a Prophet to the church.
1. The natural ignorance and blindness of men in the things of God. The world is involved in darkness: the people sit as in the region and shadow of death till Christ arise upon their souls. Matt. 4: 15-17. It is true, in the state of innocency man had a clear apprehension of the will of God without a Mediator; but now that light is quenched in the corruption of nature," and the natural man receiveth not the things of God." 1 Cor. 2:14. These things of God are not only contrary to corrupt and carnal reason, but they are also above right reason. Grace indeed useth nature, but nature can do nothing without grace. The mind of a natural man has not only a native blindness, by reason whereof it cannot discern the things of the Spirit, but also a natural enmity, Rom. 8: 7, and it hates the light, John, 3: 19, 20. So that until the mind be healed and enlightened by Jesus Christ, the natural faculties can no more discern the things of the Spirit, than the sensitive faculty can discern the things of reason. The mysteries of nature may be discovered by the light of nature; but when it comes to supernatural mysteries, there, as Cyprian somewhere speaks, the most subtle, searching, penetrating reason is at a loss.
2. It implies the Divinity of Christ, and proves him to be true God; forasmuch as no other can reveal to the world, in all ages, the secrets that lay hid in the heart of God, and that with such convincing evidence and authority. He brought his doctrine from the bosom of his Father; "The only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he hath revealed him." John, 1:18. The same words which his Father gave him he hath
given us. John, 17: 8. He spake to us that which he had seen with his Father. John, 8: 38. What man can tell the bosom counsels and secrets of God? Who but he that eternally lay in that bosom can expound them? Besides, other prophets had their times assigned them to rise, shine, and set again by death; "Your fathers, where are they? And do the prophets live for ever?" Zech. 15. But Christ is a fixed and perpetual sun that gives light in all ages of the world; for he is "the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever." Heb. 13:8. Yea, and the very beams of his Divinity shone with awfulness upon the hearts of them that heard him; so that his very enemies were forced to acknowledge, that never man spake like him." John, 7 : 46.
3. It implies that Christ is the original and fountain of all the light which is ministerially diffused by men. Ministers are but stars which shine with a borrowed light from the sun: so speaks the apostle, "For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined into our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, in the face of Jesus Christ." 2 Cor. 4: 6. Those that teach men, must be first taught by Christ. What Paul received from the Lord, he delivered to the church. 1 Cor. 11: 23. Jesus Christ is the chief Shepherd, 1 Pet. 5: 4; and all the under shepherds receive their gifts and commissions from him. These things are manifestly implied in Christ's prophetical office.
II. We shall next inquire how he executes and discharges this his office, or how he enlightens and teaches men the will of God.
1. Our great Prophet hath revealed unto men the will of God variously; not holding one uniform and constant tenor in the manifestations of the Father's will, but "at sundry times, and in divers manners." Heb. 1:1. Sometimes he taught the church immediately, and in
his own person. John, 18: 20. He declared God's righteousness in the great congregation. Psa. 22:22. And sometimes mediately by his ministers and officers, deputed to that service by him. So he dispensed the knowledge of God to the church before his incarnation: it was Christ that in the time, and by the ministry of Noah, "went and preached to the spirits in prison." 1 Pet. 3:19; that is, to men and women then alive, but now separated from the body, and imprisoned in hell for their disobedience. And it was Christ that was with the church in the wilderness, instructing and guiding them by the ministry of Moses and Aaron, Acts, 7: 37, 38; and so he has taught the church since his ascension. He is not now personally with us, yet he still teaches us by his officers, whom, for that end, he has set and appointed in the church. Eph. 4: 11, 12.
2. He has dispensed his blessed light to the church gradually. The discoveries of light have been waxuuegos, that is, in many parts or parcels; sometimes more obscure and cloudy; as to the Old Testament believers, by visions, dreams, Urim, Thummim, vocal oracles, types, sacrifices, &c. which, though they were comparatively but a weak, glimmering light, and had no glory compared to that which now shines, 2 Cor. 3: 7-11, yet were sufficient for the instruction and salvation of the elect in those times; but now is light sprung up gloriously in the Gospel dispensation: "And we all, with open face, behold, as in a glass, the glory of the Lord." It is to us not a twilight, but the light of a perfect day; and still is advancing in the several ages of the world. I know more, saith Luther, than blessed Austin knew; and they that come after me, will know more than I know.
3. Jesus Christ, our great Prophet, has manifested to us the will of God plainly and perspicuously. When he was on earth he taught the people by parables, and