One: I Am the Truth

Having formerly declared that Christ is Truth (the truth of legal shadows) as opposed to falsehood; we are now to show that he is Truth as opposed to the shadows and figures of the old Law. In the entrance into which treatise, we must premise some propositions.


That the Lord decreed to always have a Church upon the face of the earth; for the upholding of which he upholds the world. For:

  1. He will have his name confessed and praised as well in earth as in heaven.
  2. He will maintain his public worship to distinguish unbelieving idolaters from true worshippers.
  3. To prepare true believers in this embattled Church to that Church triumphant, and to set and polish them as living stones in this mount of the Church, for that heavenly mountain and temple.

For the effecting of his purpose, he has decreed that the doctrine of salvation by Jesus Christ should be established in the Church, together with the doctrine of the Law, that partly the right way of his worship and partly the way of salvation, might be made known and opened to believers.


By the Gospel the Lord has revealed the Covenant of grace, which is in substance but one as God is but one and Christ is but one, who is the substance of it. As there is but one hope of eternal life — the end of the Covenant — and one faith, which is the means to lead to that end (Eph. 4:5).


Christ and his doctrine and covenant being the same yesterday and today and forever (Heb. 13:8). For substance alters and differs only in the form and manner of dispensation; according to which it is diversely submitted in the old Testament and new. In the former submitted, as the Messiah to come, from Adam to his Incarnation. In the latter, as of the Savior already come, and so embraced in the Church from his first coming, to his second coming again.


So long as Christ was to come, it pleased God to train his Church by multitude of ceremonies, rites, figures, and shadows to strengthen their faith in the expectation of Him. Of which many ceremonies, if more special reasons be demanded, these may be given: (God appointed a multitude of ceremonies to the Jews for five reasons)


First: The immaturity and infancy of that Church, which was not capable of such high mysteries, but was to be taught by their eyes as well as their ears. And therefore, it pleased God to put the ancient Church, even newly out of the cradle, under tutors (Gal 4:2) and appointed diverse types and ceremonies as rudiments and introductions, (Gal. 4:3), fitted to the large and contemptible barriers of that Church, which was to be brought on by little and little, through such shadows and figures, to the true image and thing signified, who in our text calls Himself Truth, as opposed to all those shadows.


But the weaker and duller they were, the more need they had of clear instruction; and God could have revealed Christ as clearly to them, as to us.


But as the Lord had observed this method in creating the world, He would have darkness go before light; and in upholding the world He would have dawning go before clear day; So in the framing and upholding the church, He would have Christ exhibited to the fathers, as to the wise men, in swaddling clothes, which hid His glory. He respected them as children; He erected for them in Jewry, a little free school, set up in the corner of the world; He appointed the Law of Moses as a primer, or ABCs in which Christ was to be shadowed in a dark and obscure manner. He would that Christ should come to his brethren, as Joseph to his, who first obscured himself to them, and afterward made himself better known. One compares it to Noah opening the window of the ark, removing the covering and stepping forth himself.


Second: Therein the wisdom of God provided for the further advancement of Christ and His gospel, which compared with the Law must be manifested in great brightness and glory.  Christ the Son must come in more glory than Moses the servant. Hence, Jn 1:17: “The Law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.”  The gospel is called grace not because under the law the same grace was not preached, but comparatively: that was scarce grace to this which is more full, more manifest; as the light in the dawning is scarce light in comparison of light at noonday. There was grace, but here is more grace. In manifestation: the light of the sun is seven-fold, and like the light of seven days, as was prophesied (Isa. 30:26).


In fulfillment and accomplishment of that which was but a promise of grace in comparison. In application and apprehension by believers in all countries not only in India. In the growth and perfection of faith and grace in the hearts of ordinary believers above them. Hence Heb. 10:1: “The law had but a shadow of good things to come, and not the image” and truth itself; that is, it had a rude and dark delineation of good things to come, as a draft made by a painter with a coal; but the gospel exhibits the picture itself in the flourish and beauty that is the truth and being of it.


Hence also, Paul to the Colossians 2:17, speaking of observances of the ceremonial law, faith: they were but shadows of things to come, but the body is Christ. From this place he would have us conceive:


Ceremonies are called shadows for four reasons.

First, that as the body is the cause of the shadow, and the cause more excellent than the thing caused: So Christ was the cause of those ceremonies, and more excellent than they.


Secondly, as the shadow represents the shape of the body with the actions and motions, so those rites and ceremonies resemble Christ in all His actions, passions, motions as after we are to hear.


Thirdly, as the shadow is but an obscure resemblance in respect of the body, so the ministry of the Old Testament in rites and ceremonies is a dark representation of the body, namely Christ and his spiritual worship.


And finally, as the body is solid, firm and enduring, even when the shadow is gone, so the ceremonies as shadows are flown away, but Christ the body and His true worship last forever. In all which Christ and his grace are advanced, as the author and perfecter of our salvation without any shadows; whereas of the Law, it is fading; it made nothing perfect (Heb. 7:19).


Third (of the five): Those ceremonies were not given to merit remission of sins by them, nor to appease God’s anger, nor to be an acceptable worship by the worth of the work done, nor to justify the observer, but to show justification by Jesus Christ (the truth and substance of them) to be types of Him, pointing at Him in whom the Father is pleased, to be allegories and resemblances of the benefits of Christ, exhibited in the New Testament on God’s part, to be sacraments and seals of faith on the part of the believing Jew, exciting and confirming his faith in the Messiah.


Fourth: God would have this heap of ceremonies:

As bonds and sinews of the ministry and public meetings, in which the voice of the promised Seed, and the sound of wholesome and saving doctrine might be preferred in the Church, and propagated to posterity.


To be external figures of their profession, by which God would have his Church distinct from all nations of the earth.


To be to the unbelieving Jews, an external discipline to bridle them, and an exercise to frame them (at least in external conversation) to the policy and commonwealth of Moses, for else they must be cut off and excluded.


Finally, God’s wisdom in appointing these ceremonies appointed a certain observation of the line and tribe from which the Messiah should come according to the promise, enjoined a certain provision for the ministry, which had no certain part of the land allotted to them, and that the poor might be so provided for as that there might not be a beggar in Israel.


The former propositions and reasons being delivered by way of preface, we now come to show that which our text properly calls for, that is: wherein or how Christ is the truth of those figures and the body of those shadows of the ceremonial law.


Christ was figured in the Old Testament by holy persons and by holy things. Of the most holy and eminent persons who were figures of Christ, I will propound some instances.