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ISAIAH ix. 6.
For unto us a Child is born ; unto us a Son is given : and
the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name hall be called, Wonderful, Counsellor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
THE subject, that I propose for this year's course of Lectures, is the Mission and Character of our blessed Lord, as prophetically delineated in the Old Testament, as historically recorded in the New. This theme, it must be admitted, is not calculated so much to vindicate the doctrines of our religion against the Infidel and Heretic, as to elucidate those doctrines for the Orthodox Believer. I trust however that it falls fufficiently within the compass of our Founder's views; inasmuch as it embraces the more effential Articles of the Christian Faith ; and as far as it tends to shew the unity and harmony of Revealed Religion through the several Covenants that were made with man, it contributes onė species of evidence to the divine authority of the Holy Scriptures.
us a Child is born; And the virtual sacrifice of his only Son, which at the command of God he scrupled not to . offer, he most probably understood for a prophetic emblem of a real sacrifice in time to come, the precious only Son of God, to be offered a sufficient ransom, a full satisfaction for the sins of the world. . :The whole economy of the Law of Moses, whether moral, ceremonial, or political, may be regarded, as indeed it was designed, for a shadow or emblem of the Christian Dispensation. And Moses himself expressly taught . the children of Israel to expect another Lawgiver'sent immediately from God, to whom they were to pay obedience ; “ The Lord your God will raise up unto you a Prophet from among you, of your brethren, like unto me; unto him shall ye hearken d.”
The same intimations were repeated by the Psalmist, who was called from the sheepfold to rule his people Ifrael. Illumined by the Spirit of divine truth he frequently made allusion to some exalted personage in time to come, who should be the Shepherd of the spiritual Israel, and should hold a divine dominion over the sons of men. , · This promise was more clearly and more
copiously delivered by the series of Prophets, who rose to comfort Israel; of these more especially by Isaiah, who for the striking delineations, which he gives of the Messiah and his kingdom, is styled by way of eminence the Prophet of the Gospel. And therefore, not attempting any wider range through the spacious field of prophecy, to this copious source of evangelical truth I shall principally resort for such illustrations as my subject may require.
Among the sacred band of Prophets the first in excellence, as the first in order, is Isaiah. In the beauty and sublimity of his language, in the weight and dignity of his argument, he stands above his brethren unrivalled and alone. Through the whole of his writings he engages the common interest of men under both dispensations of the Law and of the Gospel. Invested with authority from heaven he impartially admonishes or reproves his people; and according to the state of religion and piety among them he declares to them the mercies or the judgments of God. Yet in this minister of Heaven the true and loyal Ifraelite is continually seen. Even while he supports the high character of
the Prophet, he never suppresses the affec· tions of the Patriot. Addressing himself more
immediately to his countrymen, he rejoices in their virtues, he laments over their apostafies; he looks on their prosperity with complacence, on their calamities with condolence. Though called in his prophetic office to un- . fold the destinies of Tyre and Egypt, Syria and Babylon, and all the more distinguished nations of the ancient Eastern world, yet the fortunes of Israel still .engross his principal regard. Though enabled to contemplate the long series of ages yet unborn, yet he continually views them as they bear a reference to the house of Abraham. Their various vicissitudes of fortune, their elevations and depressions, their dispersions and restorations are the chosen themes of his prophetic song. It may therefore be reasonably supposed, that every pious and loyal soul in Israel would be encouraged by his admonitions, and warned by his reproofs, would be moved in prosperity to love and gratitude, in adversity to resignation and repentance.
But interesting as he must have been to his own people, he engages a still deeper interest among the whole family of Christians. For while in the literal sense his prophecies apply to the temporal house of Israel, in their spiritual
and more important sense they finally point at : the Kingdom or Church of Christ, the genuine.