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THE

MINISTERIAL CHARACTER,

&c.

CHAPTER I.

The scope of Christ's prophetical Mission.

In illustrating the character of Christ, as a teacher sent from God, it must not be forgotten, that his office of prophet was subordinate to his office of priest. His object was not only to instruct by word and example, as those represent who deny the power of Satan over man', but to redeem ;-not only to promulgate a law full of spirituality and life, but to 'put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.' However properly we may exalt the purity of his doctrine—the sublimity of his discourses the perfection of his moral precepts-we shall still be far from comprehending his real glory,

· See Milner's Church History, vol. iii. 345, 361.

B

while we contemplate him exclusively, or principally, as a lawgiver instead of a Saviour. The Son of God, as Macknight rightly observes ?, came from heaven, not to make the Gospel revelation, but to be the subject of it, by doing and suffering all that was necessary to procure the salvation of mankind.

Still such was the importance of this secondary object of our Lord's mission, that St. John, after having first proved his divine dignity, immediately proceeds to speak of him in language which refers to his character as the prophet of mankind. “In him was life, and the life was the light of men .... That was the true light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world 3.' During the lapse of four ' thousand years truth had been corrupted in various ways ; partly by philosophy, partly by tradition, partly by false, and partly by perverted views of what was excellent or holy; it was time for God to vindicate the knowledge

? Macknight on the Epistles, vol. i. 57.
3 John, i. 4, 9,

of himself, and by creating light, as it were, a second time, to illuminate the moral creation, which had long been covered by a darkness similar to that which at the beginning rested upon the face of the whole earth. Christ, therefore, claimed to be considered in the spiritual world, what the sun was in the natural, the source and centre of all light. 'I am the light of the world : he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life 4'

Other individuals, it is true, before the advent of our Lord, had communicated from time to time God's will to man; but he surpassed the most favoured of them as much in the unlimited degree of his knowledge as a prophet, as he exceeded them in nature and dig. nity as God. He was as great in his attribute of omniscience, as of omnipotence. Other prophets were sent for particular purposes, with limited and special messages : as Moses was sent to the Israelitish nation, as Nathan to David, or Jonah to the Ninevites. Christ's mission extended universally over all the creation of God, and will know neither end nor limit, until all the kingdoms of the world shall acknowledge his empire, and all the dwellers upon earth shall become his people, so also was the character of his revelation adapted to the universal wants of all mankind, and commensurate with the utmost stretch of the human faculties. For in bim are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge s.' This, therefore, is one of the points on which Owen insists, when it is his object to prove Christ's ability to save to the uttermost them that come to God through him. * As a prophet, he did not receive this or that particular revelation from God; but all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge were laid up in him, and he knew the whole mind and counsel of God, as coming forth from his divine bosom.

4 John, viii. 12.

But as

5 Col. ii. 3.
6 Owen on the Hebrews, vol. v. 549.

The only direct prediction of the Messiah, under the character of a prophet, occurs in the eighteenth chapter of Deuteronomy. The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken .... I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth ; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him.

But besides this passage, in which the Jews were taught to apply to the deliverer of Israel the express title of prophet, there are several other texts which allude to the manner in which that prophet should discharge his office. Such are the following: There shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots : and the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the

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