« PreviousContinue »
that shall rule my people, Israel:*" though, at another time, being exasperated with rage and malice at the blessed Jesus for curing the lame man, they had the effrontery to say, that, “ When Christ cometh, no man knoweth whence he is.” But they could not have entertained this erroneous opinion concerning the nature of Christ's kingdom had they consulted impartially, as they ought, the sacred oracles of God, which he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets since the world began. For the sure word of promise made to Adam, immediately after the fall, by God himself, that the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head, very plainly points out the nature of that redemption which was to be effected; and, however dark and intricate it might be at the delivery of it, is the true key and clue to open and discover the genuine meaning of all the future prophecies relating to this great event. For, as the Prince of darkness had, by his artful and wicked suggestions under the form of a serpent, iustigated our first parents to an impious revolt against their maker, and thereby introduced Sin and Death into the world, that the great purpose of creation might not be frustrated, and mankind given over to their adversary, the devil, the strongest assurances are made that the power of Satan should be again vanquished, and that the souls of men should be rescued from
* There is a manifest contradiction between the evangelist and the prophet Micah, c. v. 2, from whom these words are quoted; and various methods have been taken to reconcile them. The principal of which are the following. Grotius proposes to read interrogatively, according to the Syr. “ Pardane sis, i. e, habearis, a populo Juda? aut verti potest, parum est (per neutrum) ut sis, &c.?” Which is followed by De Dieu, Lightfoot, and many others; (for which see Poole.) The learned Dr Randolph supposes that a false reading has crept into the Hebrew text, and that, instead of nuas, it should be Ann AS, which makes the prophet and the evangelist perfectly to agree. But the easiest method of removing the difficulty is to supply the negative particle ab, in the prophet, with Dr Kennicott, from the Arabic version, who produces several authorities, likewise, for it from the fathers; “Uli (says he) nonnulla vitia Græcx versiyni ante origenis tempora illata sunt; ita et alia postea introducta sunt. Ille, pariter ac Justinus, constanter citat Mic. v. 1, cum particula negationis, quæ postea fuit omissa." And, that the quotations of the evangelists and apostles from the Old Testament are more to be depended upon than the present Hebrew text, see bis 2d Dissertation, p. 103 - 108, and his General Diss. to his Hebrew Bible, sect. 63. . There was a remarkable propriety in Christ's being born at Bethlehem, the house of bread, as he was the true bread, which came down from heaven and gave life unto the world. E 2
the dominion of sin, as well as their bodies ransomed from the prison of the grave; and God, who in the midst of judgement remembers mercy, even in passing sentence on the criminal, gives him every reason to hope that his iniquity will be pardoned and his sin covered. But, as the great personage, who was to accomplish this great salvation, was not to make his appearance on the earth for several thousand years, though the influence of this mighty work was to extend itself, by faith in a Saviour to come, to the earliest period of time, the sacrifice of slain beasts was appointed by God himself as typical and prophetical of the great expiatory sacrifice of the blood of Christ, and to shew forth the Lord's death till he came. And for this reason he is stiled the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world :* and St Paul says, that the blood of sprinkling speaketh better things than that of Abel; i. e. than the blood of the sacrifice of Abel,+ which, though more excellent than that of Cain, because offered up in the faith of a Saviour to come, was as much inferior to the offering of Jesus as the type is to the antitype, or the shadow to the substance. And this faith in the promised seed was preserved in the world, through tradition and the use of sacrificial types, from Adam even to Abraham, who, for the eminence and singular exemplariness of his belief in this great mystery of godliness, God manifested in the flesh, was distinguished with the highest marks of divine favour, and vouchsafed still farther and clearer revelations of this important event: for, as a sure earnest and pledge that he would perform the mercy promised to our fathers, God enters into a holy
*" Respectu victimarum veterum, quæ erant ipse Agnus sacramentaliter; et virtutis et efficaciæ istius occisionis quæ viguit ab origine mundi.” Paræus. Pol. Synop.
† “ Legendum est grupa to Alix, ut subaudiatur aqua, ex membro antitheto; et sic legerunt Græci veteres et Syrus." Grotius et Pisc. “Si legas pòr, referri possit ad partiomar, ut Abel sit casûs genitivi. Sic vertas, quam illa aspersio Abelis, i. e. aspersio sanguinis in primo illo sacrificio Abelis, Gen. iv. 4." Knachbull, &c.
* “ The apostle says, c. xi. 4, that Abel's sacrifice was rendered excellent by faith. What could this faith be, but a reliance on the promises and appointments of God, that the seed, &c. which was the grand charter of mercy after the fall." Bishop Sherlock, Shuckford, &c.
covchant, and swears by an oath,* to our father Abraham, “ That he would grant unto us, that we, being delivered out of the hand of our enemies,+ might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life.” Which grant is contained in those memorable words of God to Abraham; “ In thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed." Upon which words we need no other comment than that full and concise one of the apostle, Galat. iii. 16; “Now to A. braham and his seed were the promises made: he saith not, and to seeds, as of many ; but as of one, and to thy seed, which is Christ." The former prediction of the Messiah was only in general ternis, “ The seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent's head.” It is now revealed to Abraham, “ In Isaac shall thy seed be called," whom he received in a figure, as twice from the dead, once in his miraculous birth of Sarah, and again in his no less miraculous deliverance from the altar ;$ in both of which typical events he looked forward, with the eye of faith, to those two corresponding, though more extraordinary, circumstances in the person of the redeemer of Israel, his birth of a virgin, and his death on the cross. To which signal act of faith the blessed Jesus bears testimony in those remarkable words, Joh. viii. 58; “ Abrahain rejoiced to see my day, and he saw it** and was glad.” He saw, by
*“ Hinc patet angelum hunc esse Deum, quia per seipsum jurare soli Deo convenit. Heb. vi.. 13." · Piscator, &c. +'" Manifesta allusio ad verba Dei, Exod. iii. 12.” Grotius. See Brugensis on v. 68.
nis nomen ita est collectivum, ut tamen uni interdum tribuatur, ut Gen, iii. 17, iv. 2+, &c. Cum ergo nomen seminis æquivoce dicatur, vel ex circumstantiis, vel aliunde discendum, num pro multis, an pro uno, accipitur.” Junius, &c. And in this place it can be only understood of Christ, as Whitby observes.
" Respicit uterum Saræ, quasi mortuum ex quo eum acceperat.” Hammond, &c. § " Perinde erat ac si eum mactasset, et a mortuis recepisset.” Castal.
q " Ligacit, (sc. Isaacum,) non quia timeret, ne fugeret, aut rebellaret; sed ut significaret ligationem Christi in cruce." Lyra, &c. And the wood might be laid, or the altar made, in the shape of a cross.
** Vidit. “ 1o. Fidei oculis, ut declaratur, Heb. xi. 13, Beza, &c. 20. In figura, nim. Isaaci immolati, adeoque' typi Christi.' Chrysost. Warburt. &c. 30. Peculiari revelatione, et spirita prophetico. Zegerus, Mackn.' &c. 40, Peculiari apparitionë.” Glassius, &c. And Dr Ran
some means or other, that God, of the fruit of his loins, out of the tribe of Judah and the house of David, would raise up Christ, to be a Prince and a Saviour, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And now the holy father, beholding the son of his bosom with a rapturous delight, bursts out into this very pathetic exclamation; " And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the highest;” i. e. thou shalt be the prophet of the highest: as to be called, or his name shall be called, signifies, according to the Hebrew Idiom, he shall be; as is evident from these remarkable passages; “ And his name shall be called wonderful, and this is his name whereby he shall be called, the Lord our Righteousness." For the real name of this fore-runner of Christ was given him by the angel, before he was conceived in the womb, with a manifest · allusion to the important errand he came upon; he being called John; which signifies gracious, because he was to bear witness to the blessed Jesus, who was full of grace and truth, * and who was so named, probably by the very same angel, because he was to save his people from their sins. And in the person of John are fulfilled those well known predictions of Esaias, c. xl. 3 ; “ The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, prepare ye the way of the Lord:” and of Malachi, c. iii. 1; “ Behold I rill send my messenger, and he shull prepare the way before me.” For he came, as his father Zacharias declares expressly, to “go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways; to give knowledge of salvation to his people, by the remission of their sins. And, when he enters on his office of herald to the Prince of Peace, he does not, like the harbinger of a temporal monarch, invite his followers with the
dolph says, that, if we consult the most antient fathers, we shall see them consenting, with one mouth, that Christ appeared to Abraham and the other patriarchs.
*“ Nomen illi congruum, qui primus esset præco regni gratiæ, et designaret eum qui esset ipsa gratia.” Lightfoot. «Notatu dignum est paucis hisce verbis vim nominum, quae et filio et parentibus non sine divina dispositione contigerant, indicari. Nam pomoæi sdeos explicat Johannis nomen; Hiunginvar, nomen Zachariæ; oexos, nomen Elisabethæ." Grotius and Hammond,
+ By the remission, &c. “ Notitia salutis quam lex præ se primâ fronte tulit, erat per justitiam legalem, et absolutam præstationem mandatorum. Johannes autem dedit notitiam salutis alio modo, nempe per remissionem, &c. Atque hæc summa evangelii.”. Lightfoot...
promises of worldly happiness, and the hopes of earthly glory; but, which is of infinitely greater value, with the tender mercy of our God; “ Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand:” or, in the words of Zacharias, “ The day-spring from on high hath visited us, to. give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” Which expression, the dayspring from on high hath visited us, is very significant indeed, being, as it were, the completion of a prophesy in a prophesy. For it has, probably, either a retrospect to that famous prediction of Balaam, Num. xxiv. 17, “ I shall see him, but not now; I shall behold him, but not near ; there shall come a star out of Jacob and a sceptre shall rise out of Israel ;” and looks forward to the accomplishment of it in the appearance of the star to the wise men from the East; or, according to Grotius, to that passage of Isai. c. ix. 2, “ the people that walked in darkness have seen a great light;”. or, as the generality of interpreters suppose, rather to those more recent but eminent prophecies of Jeremiah and Zachariah, where the Messiah is described by a title which may signify either the Branch or the Day-spring * and it may be proper to observe, that the original word, rendered in our translation the Branch, is translated by one, in the Sept. version, which may admit, likewise, as some have remarked, of a double signification, though it is certain, from the con-text, that St Luke takes it in the sense of the Day-spring. +
There is, however, in the Revelation of Șt John, a very singular passage, which, from the solemnity of the introduction and the peculiar emphasis of the expression, seems particularly designed to point out the completion of all the fore-mentioned prophesies : “ I, Jesus, have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches.” Observe,
* “ Verbum Heb. nos sign. et oriri, atque ita pertinet ad germen; et lucere, ut ad solem orientem pertineat.”. Brugensis, &c.
p " Oriens, nomen Christi, quò spectat illud Taciti, lib. 5, ubi de excidio Jeros, loquens dicit, antiquas sacerdotum prædixisse literas, eo ipso tempore fore ut valesceret Oriens, i. e. Christus, cujus nomen est Oriens.” Hammond. “ Oriens hîc idem atque sol justitiæ, qui exoriturus erat, Mal. iv. 2.” Camerarius, &c.