Page images

be as white as snow ; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool ;” and confessing over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, sent him away by a fit man into the wilderness--of this goat it was said, that he should bear upon him, all their iniquities, into a land not inhabited.

As the Mosaic religion was preparatory to the Christian, it was indeed fit and proper to connect these two parts of God's moral government, in such a manner, that their mutual relation might in due season become evident to all men. For in two religions, allied to each other, as the means and the end, the foundation and the superstructure, nothing can be more conformable to our ideas of divine wisdom, than the contrivance of some ties, which might establish the knowledge, and perpetuate the memory of that close relation, without immaturely explaining the particulars of it. And what can be conceived more effectual for this

than to make the rites of the one religion, typical, that is, declarative and expressive of the general nature of the other.


To the emblematical ceremonies and institutions of the law, I add the written testimony of prophecy, that messenger of heaven, sent at an early period to foretell glad tidings of salvation to the world. With different degrees of precision, at different times, she drew the character she described - the progress of the coming Christ, but in every portrait, in every sketch, conflict and suffering were conspica. ous,) unfolding gradually all that the Messiah should endure, from the persecutions of his infancy, to the last insult of the piercing spear. Now she breaks forth, as if beholding one covered with anxiety and blood, and now with pencil dipped in saddest hue, she gives the entire and affecting piece, ---" He shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground : 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. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows : yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities : the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and with his stripes we are healed. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth : he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. Isaiah liii. 2-7. In the acts of the apostles, these words are applied to Christ most distinctly; for the pious treasurer of Ethiopia, who was reading the passage in his chariot, and being at a loss to whom it referred-saith to Philip, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this ? of himself or some other man? and Philip, we read, taught him--that it was spoken of Christ.

There is a strong and very apposite text of St. Peter, in which the application of the term lamb, to our Lord, can admit of no question at all. “For as much as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot,” i Peter, i. 18, 19. The use I make of these passages, is to shew, that the prophet Isaiah, six hundred years before Christ's birth--St. John the baptist, upon the commencement of his ministry-St. Peter, his companion and apostle, after the transaction was over, speak of our Saviour's death under the figure of a lamb being sacrificed, that is, in having the effect of a sacrifice (the effect in kind, though infinitely higher in degree,) upon the pardon of sins, and the procurement of salvation.

From Isaiah I turn to the prophet Daniel, who fixes the particular period of Christ's coming, expressly affirming that the Messiah should appear in the world, and be cut off as a victim and expiation for the sins of the people, at the expiration of seventy prophetical weeks. These seventy weeks are weeks of years, as among the Jews there were sabbatical days, by which their days were divided into weeks of days ; so there were sabbatical years, whereby their years were divided into weeks of years, and this last sort of weeks is that which is here mentioned, so that every one of the weeks of this prophecy contains seven years, and the whole number of seventy weeks amounts to 490 years. The beginning of the seventy weeks, or 490 years, was in the month Nisan, (March April) of the Jewish year, in the seventh year of Artaxerxes Longimanus, king of Persia, and in the 4256th year of the Julian Period, when Ezra had his commission, to restore the law of Moses, and fully re-establish the observance of it, both in church and state, Daniel ix. 25. and the end of this time fell in the very same month of Nisan, in the 4746th year of the Julian Period, in which very year and month, our Saviour suffered, being just seventy weeks of years, or 490 years from the date of the prophecy.*

* Christ suffered at the Passover, which was always in the middle of the inonth Nisan.

A late eminent Philosopher and Mathematician, Ferguson, wrote a Dissertation upon this chapter, which he concludes in these words :- -“ Thus we' have an astronomical demonstration of the truth of this ancient prophecy, seeing that the prophetic year of the Messiah's being cut off, was the very same with the Astronomical. Astronomy, Page 373-377.

« PreviousContinue »