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A. M. 4035, lehem a Ruler of Israel should come, whose goings forth had been from everlasting:" *:::: 5. And he was born (a) “in the reign of king Herod,” i.e. before the total dissolution of ài. K." the Jewish government, and during the standing of the second temple, because one proVolo, or *phecy says, that (b) “the sceptre should not depart from Judah until Shiloh come; and another, that (c) “the Desire of all nations should come, and by his presence make the glory of God's latter house greater than that of the former.” * Well: But before his appearance in the world, (d) John the Baptist was appointed his forerunner, and came to bear witness of him, because the Lord, by the mouth of his prophets, had said, (e) “Behold, I send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me; (f) he shall cry in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight an highway for our God.” When he made his appearance in the world, he took up his chief residence (g) in the province of Galilee, because the prophet, speaking of the inhabitants of that country, tells us, that “upon them, (h) who dwelt before in the land of the shadow of death, did a great light shine, when they had it to say, unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder,” &c. When he came to converse in it, such was his quiet and inoffensive temper and behaviour, that the prophet did not misrepresent him, when he styled him, (i) “the Prince of peace,” and one who (k) “would not cry, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street.” When he entered upon his public ministry, the very actions which the evangelical prophet had foretold of the Messiah, he performed to a tittle: “For (l) he preached good tidings to the meek, and proclaimed liberty to the captives; he (m) opened the eyes of the blind, and unstopped the ears of the deaf; he made the lame man to leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb to sing.” But during the course of his ministry, our Saviour, we read, lived in a very mean obscure condition, and suffered at last a violent death : And why so 2 Because of the Messiah it was foretold, that (n) “he should be despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; who should be cut off from the land of the living, and pour out his soul unto death.” But for whom should he suffer all this 2 (0) For us men, and our salvation: For so it was appointed, that the Messiah should (p) “bear our griefs, and carry our sorrows; that he should be wounded for our transgressions, and bruised for our iniquities; because the Lord would lay upon him the iniquities of us all.” And in what manner was he to suffer? With a patience and meekness answerable to the prophecy, (q) “He was oppressed and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth ; he was brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth.” - It might seem a little strange, that our Lord, who all his lifetime affected no popularity, should, a little before his death, (r) make his public entry into Jerusalem, and in a manner so very singular, had not the prophet called upon “the daughter of Zion (s) to rejoice greatly, because her king was coming unto her, bringing salvation, lowly, and riding upon an ass, and a colt, the foal of an ass.” Strange, that (t) he should be betrayed by his own disciple, to whom he had been so very kind, had not the Psalmist foretold it in these words, (u) “Mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath list up his heel against me:” And strange, that of all other deaths he should be sentenced to crucifixion, which was neither a Jewish punishment, nor proper to be inflicted (r) for the crime of blasphemy (y) that was alleged against him, had
(a) Matth. ii. 1. (b) Gen. xlix. 10. (c) Haggai ii. 7. (d) Matth. iii. 1. and Luke vii. 27. (e) Mal. iii. 1. (f) Isa. xl. 3. (g) Matth. ii. 22, 23. (h) Isa. ix. 2, 6. (i) Ibid. ver. 6. (k) Ibid. xlii. 2. - (l) Ibid.: JXi. 1. (m) Ibid. xxxv. 5, 6. (n) Ibid. liii. 3. (o) Col. i. 14. (p) Isa. liii. 4, 5, 6. (q) Ibid, ver, 7. (r) Matth. xxi. 2, &c. (s) Zech. ix. 9. (t) Matth. x. 4.
not the same royal prophet determined the matter in these words; (a) “They pierced from Matth. my hands and my feet; they stand staring and looking upon me.” :*::::::: Such then was the will of God, that the Saviour of the world should be crucified; but John v. i. to in what company did he suffer? The Gospel tells us, (b) “between two thieves, be-Ro. " cause the prophecy had declared, that he should (c) “be numbered with the transgress-Lo. 37. ors.” But how did the spectators behave while he was thus hanging upon the cross?” " Just in the manner that the Psalmist described; (d) “All they that see me laugh me to scorn, they shoot out the lip, and shake the head, saying, he trusted in the Lord that he would deliver him, let him deliver him, if he would have him.” What did they give him to drink in the mean time 2 * A narcotic potion was generally allowed in such cases, to stupify the sense of pain, but in his nothing but vinegar was allowed, because the prophecy before had specified the liquor; (e) “They gave me gall to eat, and when I was thirsty, they gave me vinegar to drink:” And what became of his clothes? All disposed of according to the prophecy; (f) “they parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots.” But under all these provocations and indignities, what did he do? Why, he prayed to God for the forgivenness of his crucifiers, because the prophet had foretold, that (g) “ while he poured out his soul unto death, he should also make intercession for the | transgressors.” In his greater agonies what were his ejaculations to God? The same that the royal Psalmist, personating the Messiah in his extremity, has left upon record: (h) “My God, my God, look upon me: Why hast thou forsaken me, and art so far from my help, and from the words of my complaint 2" What were the words wherein he gave up the Ghost 2 The very same that the Psalmist, in another place, had prescribed; (i) “Father, into thy hands I commend my Spirit.” But after our Saviour's death, in what manner was his body disposed of? Contrary to the custom of the Romans, who | left those that suffered in this manner hanging upon the cross until they were con- sumed; and contrary to the intention of his enemies, who wished him no better than a malefactor's funeral, he was honourably and nobly interred, because it was preordained that (k) “he should make his grave with the rich in his death.” After his burial, what became of his body ? It was raised again, and restored from the state of the dead, because, in confidence of this, he laid down his life, that (l) “God would not leave his soul in hell, nor suffer his Holy One to see corruption.” After his resurrection, and continuance for some time upon earth, what did he do next 2 In the sight of his disciples, and several other spectators, ascend triumphantly into heaven; for so the Divine order was, (m) “Lift up your heads, O ye gates, and be ye lift up ye everlasting doors, o that the King of Glory may come in.” After his ascension into heaven, what did he finally do? Send down the Holy Ghost upon his apostles, to enable them to propagate his religion all the world over; for such is the purport of the prophecy, (n) “Thou art gone up on high, thou hast led captivity captive, and received gifts for men, that (o) the mountain of the Lord's house might be established on the top of the mountains, and exalted above the hills, and that all nations should flow unto it.”
(a) Psal. xxii. 16.
(b) Matth. xxvii. 38.
(c) Isa. liii. 12.
(d) Matth. xxvii. 39, &c. Psal. xxii. 7, 8.
* For this the Jews ground themselves upon the words of Solomon, “Give strong drink to him that is ready to perish, and wine to those that are of an heavy heart: Let him drink and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more,” Prov. xxxi. 7. The usual potion of this kind was frankincense in a glass of wine; and there is a tradition among them, that the ladies of the city of Jerusalem were at this charge, out of their own good-will, for the ease of the
poor sufferers: But notwithstanding this custom, what
God foretold was fulfilled. Kidder’s Demonstration
of the Messiah, p. 80.
A. M. 4035, Upon the whole then, we may perceive, that the several things which the prophets *:::::::::: had foretold of the promised Messiah were fulfilled in the person and actions of our si, &c. blessed Saviour; but then there is something farther to be considered in this matter, Yolo and that is, the visible interposition of an over-ruling Providence in the completion of - - - - these predictions. (a) For, that our Lord should be born of a virgin, contrary to the known laws of nature; at the city of Bethlehem, when he was conceived at Nazareth; and under the declension of the Jewish polity, as it was predicted; that upon the cruelty of Herod, he should be carried into Egypt; upon the succession of Archelaus return into Judea, and settle his abode in the obscure country of Galilee, whence no good thing, much less so eminent a prophet, could have ever been expected to come: That the judge, who pronounced him innocent, should deliver him to death, and to the death of the cross, who (had he been guilty) must, by the law of the land, have been stoned: That he, who had so many enemies, should be betrayed by one of his disciples; and by a disciple who carried the bag, and consequently all his master's riches, for a vile sum of money; and that this money, the price of blood, should be employed in a work of charity, to buy a field to bury strangers in : That he, who spent all his time in doing good, should be doomed to suffer among thieves and malefactors; and the multitude, who were wont to pity dying criminals, should insult and deride him in his greatest misery: That in the division of his clothes, they should cast lots for his coat, and, contrary to the usage of the country, in the midst of his agonies give him vinegar to drink: That, contrary to the practice of the Romans, he that was crucified should be permitted to be buried, and although he died among malefactors, have persons of the first rank and character joining together in his honourable interment:—These, and several other particulars that might be produced, are so very strange and surprising, that they must needs strike every pious and devout soul with a profound sense of the unspeakable wisdom, as well as goodness of God, in accomplishing in Jesus what he had promised and foretold of the Messiah, by ways and means to human wisdom very unlikely, and very disproportionate. And if the predictions relating to the Messiah have, in this wonderful manner, and by the particular direction and appointment of Providence, thus met in the blessed Jesus, like lines in one common center, the natural result of this contemplation is, that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. (b) For can it be imagined, with any worthy conception of God, that a work of love and wonder so great as the sending of his Son to redeem the world, should be in agitation for full four thousand years; that each succeeding age in this long space should have some notices of it; that the several characters he was to sustain should be described by different prophets, living at times and places so remote, that no confederacy could be suspected; that each of these prophets should draw, some, one line of him, and some, another, and point him out, some in one capacity and some in another; and above all, that every one of these strokes or lineaments should be directed by the unerring hand of God, to make at last one finished picture, on purpose that the original, when it appeared, might be found out, and distinguished by it; can it be imagined, I say, that a God of infinite truth, wisdom, and goodness, would have ever permitted, much less appointed, that our blessed Lord should, in every part and line, be so exactly like that piece, unless he intended that we should receive him as the true original? Unless we can entertain a thought so unworthy of God, I say, as that he designed to impose upon us in this whole dispensation, we cannot but conclude, that he would never have permitted all the marks belonging to the Messiah to have concurred in the life of our blessed Saviour, and by these marks have suffered so many millions of souls to have been mistaken in the object of their faith and worship, and thereupon, without any fault of
(a) Kidder's Demonstration of the Messiah, p. 131. (b) Stanhope's Sermons at Boyle's Lectures, theirs, deluded into the heinous sin of idolatry, had he not appointed the man Christ From Matth. Jesus to be the great Saviour of the world, and the Lord of life and glory. ::::::::::: “But you are frequently mistaken (says the Jew, to avoid the force of this) in your John v. i. to application of these prophetical passages to your Jesus, which properly belonged to an-Ni." other person, and in him received their utmost accomplishment. The xxiid Psalm, for Luke is. 37. instance, which complains of the sufferings and indignities which its author endured, you.'" "...'. refer to the Messiah, and thence apply to your Jesus; whereas it relates entirely to David, and the troubles he underwent under the persecution of Saul. (a) The prophecy of Micah, which makes mention of a Ruler, whose goings forth had been from everlasting, (whatever use you make of it) was only intended of Zerubbabel, who was sprung from the ancient house of David; and that famous liiid chapter of Isaiah, which is so frequently cited by the apostles, when rightly inquired into, is nothing else but a lively description of the sufferings of the Jews under the Babylonish, or some other captivity. Thus, by misapplying and misinterpreting several texts, in such a sense as the Jewish church never received, and the Spirit of God never intended, you bedeck your Jesus with feathers that are none of his own, and then cry out, How well he becomes them, and how exactly they befit him " . The completion of prophesies in the person of our Saviour Christ, is one of the most general arguments that the first Christians made use of, in order to convert such as were persuaded of their Divine authority. St Peter, (b) in his first public sermon that he made out of the xvith and czth Psalms, cites two passages, which he plainly shews could not be intended of the patriarch David, to prove our Lord's resurrection and exaltation to glory. (c) St Paul, who, by being brought up at the feet of Gamaliel, understood the force of this argument, uses more proofs of this kind than any other writer of the New Testament, as the least cast of an eye into his epistles to the Romans, Galatians, and Hebrews will shew : (d) and St Matthew, who wrote his Gospel for the use of the Jews more particularly, and for that reason (as some imagine) in the Hebrew tongue, is more express and copious in his application of the prophecies to our Blessed Saviour than any of the other evangelists. Now, (to mention no more than these) how absurd would it have been for these apostles, who were no strangers to the Jewish way of arguing, to alledge any passage in the prophets as relating to the Messias, which properly belonged to another person in whom it had its accomplishment 2 Such a method of proceeding could not sail of discovering their confidence and folly, of exposing them to the scorn and ridicule of their adversaries, and instead of gaining proselytes, of ruining the cause, which by such unfair practices they endeavoured to maintain. It is but supposing then, that these apostles were men of common sense, and desirous to promote the cause that they had taken in hand, and then we can hardly think that they argued from any prophecies concerning the Messiah but such as really belonged to him, and such as the whole Jewish church acknowledged so to do. St Peter, by virtue of the sermon which he preached on the day of Pentecost, made about three thousand converts to the Christian faith; and yet it is obvious, that the whole hinge of his discourse turns upon the testimony of the prophets: had he therefore applied this testimony, either to persons to whom it did not belong, or in a sense contrary to its true intendment, his doctrine must have been exploded at once, and could never have met with such uncommon success. And in like manner, as to the subsequent conversions which the apostles made, (e) how can we imagine that such a number of Jews of all degrees, rulers, priests, and scribes of all sects, men of learning, and who, by their station and profession, were obliged to know the Scriptures, should
(a) Collins's Discourse of the Grounds and Reasons, page 44. (b) Acts i. 14, &c (c) Iuid. xxii. 3. (d) Stanhope's Sermons at Boyle's Lectures. (e) Bishop Chandler’s Defence of Christianity.
A. M. 4:35, forsake the religion they were accustomed to, upon the authority of passages which, in ‘...." their proper meaning and intendment, were so far from countenancing, that they open3i. s.c.. ly confronted the new religion they were to embrace; and all this without any view of V* *** worldly interest, with the certain hazard of their lives here, and the loss of God's fa. vour hereafter, in case of insincerity ? [We have already seen the necessity of throwing a wail over the prophecies of the Christian dispensation, for much the same reason that it has been found expedient in the eastern and all despotic countries, to teach the great their duty by well-conceived fables or apologues. In the common apologues the story is of no importance, and sometimes expressed in language, which literally interpreted signifies what is neither true nor possible; but when the moral comprehended under it is obvious, it has been found by experience the best way of inculcating moral truth on those for whose instruction it was conceived; an apologue would not surely lose this effect, were it to inculcate the same truth under a story which might be true, and perhaps had been true somewhere, in its literal sense; and in that case it would express two truths, one historical and the other moral. Let us view the Jewish prophecies of the Messiah in the same light, and we shall see instantly that they might point to him in a way sufficiently obvious to answer all the purposes of prophecy, even if they should have had an inferior accomplishment in some other person. That the patriarchal religion, the Mosaic law, and the Gospel of Christ, are but three great parts of one entire and progressive scheme of revelation, we have had repeated occasion to observe in the course of this work. They must therefore be connected with each other; and this they can have been only by a chain of prophecies delivered under the first and second dispensations, or by ritual services, pointing to the last and greatest. Each dispensation however had its destined course to run, during which it was to be had in reverence by all who were under it. Hence we have seen the necessity of vailing the prophecies of the Messiah, which were delivered under the law, in allegorical language; but to shew the connection between the two dispensations, those allegories are all taken from the law, and often, when interpreted literally, appear to refer to some illustrious person administering the affairs of the Jewish theocracy. Were that person and the story related of him altogether fictitious, no man would hesitate to apply the prophecy to Christ, were it perceived to be applicable to him without putting any greater force on the language than what must be put on the language of all apologues. If this be so, why should we object to the application of a prophecy to Christ, only because it has in part perhaps been justly applied to some illustrious person who really appeared before him, especially if the language in which it is expressed be such as we cannot suppose that the speaker would have employed, if his view had reached no farther than to the first and inferior personage 2 Such a prophecy may be compared to an apologue founded in real facts, which surely would not therefore lose its moral effect; and if so, no candid man will say that a prophecy, delivered under the Mosaic economy, is inapplicable to Christ, only because it has in part been applied to some other person, and can be applied to none but to them two, nor in all its bearings even to the former of them. The inseparable connection between the Mosaic and Christian economies gives a peculair propriety to this double sense of some of the prophecies; and accordingly the Jews themselves never objected, in the age of our Lord, to the application to the Messiah of prophecies which had, in a primary and inferior sense, been fulfilled in part by some other personage. A primary and a secondary sense of the same prophecy must indeed have been as familiar to them as the literal story and moral import of parables and apologues; for some of the most illustrious prophecies, which related wholly to their own economy, foretold in the same language two distinct future events, of which we have a striking instance in the book of Joel, where (a), in
(a) Chap. ii.