« PreviousContinue »
before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, in thee shall all nations be blessed." This promise was repeated to Abraham; and it was renewed to his son Isaac. Jacob, when blessing his sons, spoke in the language and in the spirit of prophecy. When he came to bless his son Judah, he perceived that from him the Messiah would descend; and he pronounced this striking prophecy, “The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a law-giver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be." When laws were given to Israel to regulate their conduct in the land of promise, a prediction concerning the Messiah was also communicated by Moses. “The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me, unto him shall ye hearken.” When Balaam took up his parable respecting Israel, the most prominent part of his prediction related to the Messiah.
He speaks of him under the similitude of a Star, that should come out of Jacob, and a Sceptre that should rise out of Israel.
As the time of Christ's advent approached, prophets appear to have been endued with a greater portion of the spirit of prophecy. They appear to have had clearer views of the Messiah; and they predicted his coming with greater .clearness and precision. The prophet Isaiah had a clear and animating view of the Messiah. So lively were his apprehensions, that he gave some of his prophetic descriptions in the present time. In view of the nativity of Jesus, he said, “The Lord himself shall give you a sign, behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and his kingdom to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. There shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. Unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder. . Behold my Servant, whom I uphold, mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my Spirit upon him; he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles. Thus saith the Lord God, behold I lay in Zion for a foundation, a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation.” The same prophet proceeds to describe his state of humiliation. "He hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and we hid, as it were, our faces from him; he was despised and we esteemed him not. He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities, &c.—He shall see of the travail of his soul and shall be satisfied; by his knowledge shall my righteous Servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.”
Other prophets had a view of an approaching Savior; and they foretold his coming. They even pointed out the time and place of his nativity. “When İsrael was a child, then I loved him, and called my Son out of Egypt. Thou Bethlehem Ephratab, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me, that is to be Ruler in Israel. Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout O daughter of Jerusalem; behold thy King cometh unto thee; he is just, and having salvation, lowly and riding upon an ass; and a colt, the foal of an ass. One shall say unto him, what are these wounds in thy hands? Then shall he answer, those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends. They weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver. Awake, O sword; smite the Shepherd and the sheep shall be scattered. They pierced my hands and my feet. They gave me also gall for my meat, and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink. They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture. He was numbered with transgressors. Thou wilt not
leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. They shall look on me whom they have pierced.”
These are some of the prophecies in the Old Testament, which relate to the Messiah. So important and conspicuous a place did they hold in the Jewish scriptures that Christ was the grand object of the desires and expectations of the nation of the Jews. It is evident that these predictions related to the Messiah, because they were visibly fulfilled in him.
Other characters and other events, are also predicted in the Old Testament. Cyrus was foretold; he was called by name. He was appointed to an important place; to do important business; to subdue nations; to loose the loins of kings. But he was only an instrument in the hand of God, by whom he did his pleasure on Babylon. He is only glanced at in prophecy. His deeds were of limited consequence; nor were they followed by a lasting and important train of events. John the Baptist was foretold. But his character becomes interesting and distinguishing, principally because he was the forerunner of him, that should come. Like the harbinger of the morning, he shone with considerable distinction till the Sun of righteousness arose; then bis lustre was lost in the splendor of the great Light of the world. But Christ was the grand object of prophecy, from the apostasy till his appearance in the world. Patriarchs and prophets, by an eye of faith, saw his day and were glad. Balaam, a prophet of the Gentiles, saw the Štar of Jacob shining at a distance; and under the guidance of God's Spirit he blessed Israel with a promise of a Savior. The believing Jews understood those prophecies, which particularized the Messiah, purporting a divine Redeemer. Those appearances of divinity, recorded in the Old Testament, were undoubtedly understood to be those of the Son of God. Moses, by faith, had knowledge of Christ; for he "esteemed the reproach of Christ greater riches than
the treasures of Egypt." God sent his Angel before Israel in the wilderness. He informed them that his name was in him. He cautioned them not to provoke him. They undoubtedly understood that this Angel was Christ. The apostle Paul says, some of them tempted Christ, and were destroyed of serpents. All other prophecies in the Old Testament, are of small consideration, excepting in their connexion with the prophecies respecting the Messiah; or as they have a bearing upon his coming into the world. The prophecies respecting the rise and fall of nations and empires are of small importance, excepting in their bearing upon the kingdom of the Redeemer. The prophecies respecting the nation of the Jews, derive almost all their importance from this consideration, they were the people, to whom the Messiah was revealed; and from whom he was to descend.
The most important events recorded in the Old Testament, relate, in some way, to the Messiah. The preservation of Noah and his family, from the general destruction by the deluge, represents, in a lively manner, the preservation of the church by Christ, from the destruction of the corrupt mass of the world. Abraham was called that he might receive a revelation of an approaching Savior. Isaac was spared, when his father was just ready to sacrifice him upon the altar, because, from him the desire of nations was to descend. Jacob and his family were preserved during a long famine, because from his lineage a Savior was to arise. They were selected to be the peculiar depository of divine revelation, and from whom a Savior was to proceed. For this purpose they were preserved, in a great measure, distinct from other people. For the same purpose they were preserved in Egypt; delivered from bondage; miraculously preserved in their passage through the Red Sea; supported in the wilderness; led to Canaan, and carried through all their vicissitudes, till the grand Object of their expectations appeared. The history
of the Old Testament would lose much of its importance and interest, were it not for its distinguishing character, the Messiah.
Sacrifices and offerings were early instituted by divine authority. Rites and ceremonies were established. Types and symbols denoted that some great personage would
Of what importance was the blood of beasts; of what importance was it to burn their bodies in sacrifice on the altar? Of what importance were all the rites and ceremonies, which were instituted? The blood of beasts had not yirtue in itself to take away sin. But it represented the blood of the Lamb of God, which was to make expiation for the sins of the world. It became an expiation for sin only, as it was appointed to represent the precious blood of Jesus, which was offered as an expiatory sacrifice. The Jewish rites and ceremonies were important only, as they were appointed to prefigure some trait in his character, some circumstance in his life, or some feature in his offices. Priests were appointed by divine authority, to make intercession for the people; and to offer sacrifice upon the altar. Their character and office became important only, as they were appointed emblems of the character and office of the Savior. The grand scope of the Old Testament history, of the prophecies, of the promises, of the sacrifices, of the types and shadows, was the Messiah. They derive their importance from their concentration in him. Blot this grand personage from the Old Testament, and its history becomes insipid; its promises become fallacious; its sacrifices lose ali their efficacy; its types and shadows are shadows still; and the Jewish economy was but a prototype of the present, gross idolatries of the eastern nations.
The New Testament commences with a history of the same illustrious character. Preparations are fully made. The predicted time arrives. Representations cease; and the glorious reality, the Desire of all nations, appears. The first books of the New Testament