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The Promise of Eternal Life

The Promise of Eternal Life

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Published by GLENN DALE PEASE
BY REV. N. P. KNAPP



•'And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of
man be lifted up: that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have
eternal life." — Joun iii. 14, 15.
BY REV. N. P. KNAPP



•'And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of
man be lifted up: that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have
eternal life." — Joun iii. 14, 15.

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Jun 19, 2013
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THE PROMISE OF ETERAL LIFEBY REV. . P. KAPP•'And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must theSon of man be lifted up: that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, buthaveeternal life." — Joun iii. 14, 15.The glorious gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is set forthso distinctly in the scriptures of the ew Testament, derivesmuch of its illustration from the books of Moses, the mediator of the old covenant, which contained the types and figures of abetter dispensation. The revealings of divine mercy and grace,which bursting suddenly upon the darkened mind of fallen man,would have been too bright for discernment, were by a softenedlight, adapted to his spiritual vision.Well, therefore, is the law called by the apostle of Christ,"the shadow of good things to come." And so clear are its signi-ficant pointings to the redemption in whose accomplishment wecan rejoice, that it is aptly designated as our schoolmaster, tobring us to Christ. We may, therefore, safely resort to its teach-ings, for helps to a proper understanding of the grand scheme of salvation through the mediation of Jesus. Yet we need muchcaution in the use which we make of a typical dispensation, lestwe give substance to shadows, and found doctrinal conclusionsupon a basis that will not sustain them. There are many thingsthat are regarded as types, which have no existence as such, ex-cept in the minds of fanciful expositors. Undiscerning writershave thrown over the Mosaic record, a web of nice invention, inwhich gospel truths are made to stand out in thick profusion, soas to startle the credulous, and excite the scofiings of the skepti-cal. But although some things have been thus elevated into types,by the mere force of a buoyant imagination, there are in the same
 
SERMO XXXIV. 291scriptures such clear prefigurations of the Christian system of doctrines and ordinances, as must be considered divinely appoint-ed types.The passage which we have quoted from St. John, refers to oneof this character, of whose genuineness there can be no reasonabledoubt. Indeed, so fit an illustration of the efficacy of faith in acrucified Saviour, does the symbol alluded to afibrd, that we mightreadily and confidently apply it, even if we had no inspired tes-timony to guide us. But we have our Lord's own assurance of its full significancy, as a type of himself, in his character as auniversal propitiation for sin. The symbol to which he refers isdoubtless very familiar to all of you; the brazen serpent whichMoses made at the command of God, to be the means of healing thewounds of his rebellious people, whom he had scourged for theirdisobedience. The historical incident, of which so much use may bemade by the Christian expositor, is found recorded in the twenty-first chapter of umbers, (fifth to ninth verse,) and is substantiallyas follows: — The children of Israel, discouraged by their longand toilsome journey in the wilderness, murmured against theLord, and against his servant Moses, for bringing them out of Egypt to perish in the wilderness. To punish their refractoryspirit, the Lord sent venomous serpents, called "fiery," to bite anddestroy them. After many of the people had died of the poison-ous bite of these reptiles, Moses was besought, by the penitentsufierers, to pray unto God, that he would take away the serpents.God hearkened unto Moses, and ordained a remedy for the wounds,that would else have been fatal. He commanded Moses to makea brazen image of a serpent, and set it up on a pole, that all whowere bitten, might look on it and live. "And Moses made a ser-pent of brass, and put it upon a pole : and it came to pass that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived."ow this symbol has been generally and very truly regardedas a type of Christ crucified, a clear sign of the salvation thatshould be the believer's heritage under the Christian dispensation.
 
Our Lord says plainly, that just as Moses lifted the serpent inthe wilderness, and there was no other lifting up than that we just considered; "even so, must the Son of man be lifted up, thatwhosoever believeth in him should not perish, but should have292 SERMO XXXIV.etyrnal life." By tlie lifting up of the Son of man, he evidentlymeant his own crucifixion; as St. John in another place testifies,in these words: — "This he said, signifying what death he shoulddie." We may, therefore, regard the text as setting forth thenecessity of Christ's crucifixion, in order that mankind might beredeemed from the state of spiritual condemnation, which leadsto eternal death ; and of faith in its efficacy, in order to entitleeach individual to its benefits. We, therefore, hold up to yourview, this clear type of the great propitiatory sacrifice, and bidyou look at its strong points of application.And, first, observe, that the wounds inflicted by the serpentswere fatal, if left to take their course. Here we have a fit re-presentation of the deadly nature of sin. Inborn corruption,which seated in the heart, spreads o'er the whole man, break-ing out in deformities of character, which mark the guilty forfinal ruin, may be well likened to the venom of the serpent's tooth,which rankles in the wound, tainting the blood, and poisoningthe fountain of life. Mark the progress of subtle poison in itswork of death. The victim of its insidious power feels a suddenpang, which marks the recent wound, and, perhaps, eagerly looksfor a remedy. But while he seeks, or before he can apply thatwhich is close at hand, the pain which alarmed him has ceased,and all apprehension of danger is allayed. But the poison isworking w^ithin him, and by its chilling influence lulls the sensesinto drowsiness and torpor, and the livid body gives at once adreadful warning of danger, and a sure indication of approachingdeath. It is thus that sin works corruption and death in the soulof man. The first appearance of guilt wounds the conscience,yet sensitive and vigilant, and a sudden efibrt is made to cast outthe painful thing — to free the soul from the smart of the wound.

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