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i. 32. The people have been preserved upon the earth generation after generation. The King has been preserved in heaven, where he sitteth on the right hand of God. We are plainly informed that he shall come again from heaven in like manner as he went up into heaven. (Acts i. 11.) Thus King and people shall meet, and the literal, lineal descendants of David's subjects shall be governed by the literal, lineal descendant of king David himself, and he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and of his kingdom there shall be no end."
In pursuance of my plan, as announced at the commencement of this discourse, I have refrained from that species of corroboration which might so largely be given to this view of the subject, by the quotation of parallel passages, satisfied that a fair investigation into the true meaning of this one prophecy, if consistently followed throughout, must shut up every candid inquirer to the conclusion I have here drawn. That the subject is capable of reiterated corroboration, from similar language used in other places, all will readily allow who are
that shall not prosper in his days; for no man of his seed shall prosper, sitting upon the throne of David, and ruling any more in Judah.” (Jer. xxii. 30.) If the word childless, in this passage, be taken literally as an English reader would understand it, it will involve a direct contradiction to Matt. i. 12– Jechonias begat Salathiel. I think it has been satisfactorily argued, that the original word, the root of which is simply nudus, may, without any violence, be understood in a general sense, as destitute or deprived. It is translated in the Septuagint by Exxnpuxtou. This view would limit the meaning of the word to royal progeny; and indeed the text itself seems to warrant, nay, to require such a limitation, the second clause being an explanation of the first. Write this man childless, &c.—Why? Because no man of his seed shall prosper, sitting upon the throne of David, &c. It is not said he shall have no seed, but that no man of his seed shall reign. If this exposition be just, it implies that he would have posterity, while it asserts that none of them would inherit the kingdom of their father. This has been strictly fulfilled. He had two sons, Asser and Salathiel. (1 Chron. iii. 17.) But his successor in the kingdom was his uncle Mattaniah, whose name the king of Babylon changed to Zedekiah. (2 Kings xxiv. 17; Jer. xxxvii. 1.) The last king of Judah, therefore, before the captivity, was of the seed of David, though not of the seed of Coniah. The sons of Zedekiah, however, were slain by the Chaldees, as we read 2 Kings xxv. 7. The genealogy, therefore, was continued in the seed of Coniah. Jeconiah begat Salathiel, and Salathiel begat Zerobabel, &c. But no man of his seed prospered, sitting on the throne of David. The Lord Jesus is of the seed of Coniah as truly as he is of the seed of David or Abraham; but he did not prosper on the throne. The clause now before us of the prophecy of Jeremiah, has been in continuous fulfilment since the days of Coniah even unto our own days; but this clause is not the whole prophecy; and that a limit to the period of the application of this clause was pre-determined, is manifest from the subsequent clause, which says, Behold the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous branch, AND A KING SHALL REIGN AND PROSPER,” &c. Thus, in the history of the Jewish nation, Jer. xxii. 30 has found a literal fulfilment for many centuries, while, in the preserved genealogy from Coniah to the Virgin Mary, and since then, in the person of Christ himself, provision has been kept up for the literal sulfilment of Jer. xxiii. 5 in his time.
acquainted with the prophetic writings. It is, in fact, the leading theme with the Jewish prophets. The original grant to Father Abraham is never lost sight of. It is the climax of every song of triumph, the key-note in reference to which every strain is set, and without which there is no harmony in the whole. Is the Lord, the Son of David, the King of the Jews, to return?—It is to the Mount of Olives, in the land of Judah. Is he to reign over his people?-It is in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem. Are the nations of the earth to be blessed?
- It is in coming to the light which shall have arisen upon Jerusalem. (Zech. xiv. 4; Isa. xxiv. 23, and lx. throughout.) Yea, many hymns of praise are written in anticipation of this great accomplishment of Israel's blessedness, and left ready to be sung by the re-assembled tribes in the land of Judah. Isa. xxvi. and Jer. xxxiii. 10, 11.
JER. xxiii. 5, 6. "Behold the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto
David a righteous branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely, and this is his name whereby he shall be called, the Lord our Righteousness."
Has it been proved, or has it not, that the Jews shall be restored?—that the outcasts of Israel, and the dispersed of Judah, shall be re-united into one kingdom, and thus the whole twelve tribes of the sons of Jacob be put in permanent possession of the land of their forefathers? Is this the meaning, or is it not, of the two sticks in the hand of the Prophet Ezekiel, which God caused to become one, and then expounded in the remarkable language which we have lately considered?
My brethren, I must be permitted to say, that the proof advanced, brief and general as it has been, requires something more than a mere denial to set it aside, and that no candid student of Holy Scripture can fairly resist it, unless he can take the 36th and 37th chapters of Ezekiel, and, adhering consistently to the whole context, shew us a more excellent way of interpretation. This I say, because the custom of flippant criticism is to triumph in the exposure of what it thinks an error, without any attempt to elucidate the difficulty, or point out the truth. And not only so, but it too frequently misleads its unwary readers into a rejection of what it supercilious
ly condemns, while it provides no substitute for their instruction, but leaves them as empty and vapid as itself.
Our attention is next invited to some of those further particulars, which are revealed concerning the restored nationand, first, to their King, who shall reign over them with power and great glory in that day.
We have already spoken of the king of the house and lineage of David; but the subject demands a more detailed examination. I shall, however, refrain from some of the topics usually urged in connexion with the coming of this great King, because I am desirous to keep prominent that part of the subject which especially relates to the Jewish nation, and to avoid elevating a collateral (however important) into a main topie of discussion. For this cause, I have hitherto refrained from speaking largely of the great Gentile monarchies, which occupying, for certain predicted times, the most conspicuous stations in this world's history, were made the resting-places or landmarks of prophecy, pointing out the seats and the exercise of that unrighteous dominion, which shall be destroyed utterly by the brightness of the coming of the King of Judah, when the times of the Gentiles, and the iniquities of the modern Amorites shall be fulfilled. For this cause, also, I forbear to make any comment on the signs of the present times, though, undoubtedly, the state of affairs around us is well calculated to give point and power to that saying of the Prophet Isaiah, respecting the nations who have oppressed the Jews: "Lord, when thy hand is lifted up, they will not see; but they shall see, and be ashamed for their envy at thy people.”
Our present subject is,—The revelation which it has pleased God to give us concerning THE KING OF THE Jews, at and subsequent to the restoration of that people to their own land.
Many persons do not believe that any such revelation is given to us at all. To such I address myself, in the first place, and institute this important inquiry,–Who is the king mentioned in our text? Has any individual appeared upon earth since the days of Jeremiah the prophet, in whose history all the particulars predicted in these two verses have been fulfilled?
In order to answer this question with precision, we should begin by examining closely what the predicted particulars are: “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous branch, and a king shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely; and this is his name whereby he shall be called, The Lord our
Righteousness!” From these words we learn seven distinct particulars concerning the individual here spoken of.
1. He shall be of the stock of David:
4. He shall reign prosperously, i. e. according to the common meaning of language, he shall have victory over his enemies, and enjoy the satisfaction of seeing his subjects in peace, and plenty, and happiness:
5. His executive government, like himself, shall be righteous; he “shall execute judgment and justice in the earth:”
6. His reign shall be marked by a very striking historical event, the safety of Judah and Israel:
And, 7. His royal name, by which he shall be known and called of all his subjects, shall be "Jehovah our Righteousness!"
It is manifest, that unless some individual has appeared in the earth, embodying in his character and history all these particulars, the prophecy has not yet been fulfilled; and unless some such individual shall appear in the earth, the prophecy can never be fulfilled. I speak to you as to those who believe that Jehovah, the living and true God, dictated these predictions to his servants the prophets; and who, therefore, cannot for a moment doubt that the prophecy shall be fulfilled, if it have not been fulfilled already. And to you I again propose the question, Has any individual appeared in the earth, whose descent, character, history, and name, will bear to be measured by the length and breadth of this single prophecy? Let it be observed, that from the very nature of the case, the individual in question could not have lived in obscurity, and escaped the notice of mankind. Kings do not live and reign in corners, nor in the unfrequented wildernesses of the earth; and such a king as this would unquestionably have engaged the pen of poets and historians. Where, then, shall we look for such an individual?
Jeremiah lived and prophesied in the days of Amon, Jehoiachim, and Zedekiah, kings of Judah, about six hundred years before the commencement of the Christian era. In the ages immediately succeeding that period, we look in vain for any individual possessing the slightest pretensions to the appropriation of the prophecy. I need not specify any of the kings, whether Jew or Gentile, who reigned during those six hundred years, nor occupy your time in proving that none of them fulfilled this prophecy. I come at once to him who is generally believed to have been the person predicted in our text, and to have satisfactorily and fully fulfilled the prediction, i. e., Jesus of Nazareth, our Lord and Saviour.
Was, then, the prophecy of our text fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth? Let us try the particulars in succession. The person predicted in our text was to be, 1. Of the stock of David. To this particular Jesus of Nazareth corresponds exactly: he was born of a virgin, of whom it is written, that she was of the house and lineage of David, and he was truly a branch of this stock, bone of her bone, and flesh of her flesh, very man of the substance, and in the proper nature of his mother. 2. The person predicted was to be righteous. To this particular also Jesus of Nazareth corresponds exactly: he was holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners; in him was no sin: the prince of darkness came to him, and found nothing in him: he was emphatically the righteous one. 3. The person predicted in our text was to be a king. To this particular also Jesus of Nazareth corresponds: he was born King of the Jews; he was inquired for under that title by the wise men, who had seen his star in the east, and came to Jerusalem to worship him; and when he was afterwards asked himself, by Pontius Pilate, “Art thou the King of the Jews?" he did not deny it, though (the time not having arrived when he was to declare himself King) he avoided giving Pilate a direct answer (John xviii. 33, 34): “Then Pilate entered into the judgment-hall again, and called Jesus, and said unto him, Art thou the King of the Jews? Jesus answered him, Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or did others tell it thee of me?" Being pressed again by the question in a more general form, “Art thou a king then?” he answered in the affirmative, “Thou sayest that I am a king.' A king he was, though for a season veiled in voluntary humiliation, for the attainment of a great ulterior purpose.
So far, then, we find the prophecy in our text obviously, and without any violence to the language, applicable to Jesus of Nazareth. But we have some other particulars to examine. 4. The person predicted in our text was to reign prosperously, which, as I observed, according to the common meaning of language, signifies that he should have victory over his enemies, and enjoy the satisfaction of seeing his subjects in peace, and plenty, and happiness. To this particular Jesus of Nazareth certainly did not correspond. Instead of reigning prosperously as a king, he was in disguise as a servant, and living so, he was despised, and rejected, and insulted, and put to death. Instead of having the victory over his enemies, his enemies had the victory over him; and although, because of his personal dignity (for he was a king), his enemies, and even death itself, could not hold him, yet still he did not effectually throw off his disguise and confound his adversaries; on the