Page images

9.-20. The same prophet having shewed the progress of the gospel among the Gentiles, on its first promulgation, (xlii. 10.-16.) he breaks off the detail of events, to denounce the judgments of God against the heathen nations, who retained their idolatry, then turning round to the Jews, in a pathetic address, he represents their inexcuseableness in rejecting the Gospel, and the justice of the calamities which were in consequence entailed upon their nation', (ver. 18.-23.)

IV. THERE are sudden transitions in the

prophets ; that is, they rapidly pass from one event to another, very remote as to the time of its accomplishment, from that mentioned immediately before. However, a minute attention to the paffage, and the comparing it with other paffages, in the same prophet, will enable us to trace the connection of the writer's ideas, and prevent our misapprehending the narration, so far as to imagine, that the last event shall quick. ly succeed the preceding in the accomplishment.


(1) Many instances of this kind could be produced, out of all the prophets; and in them we ought to admire the wisdom of the Spirit, who dictated the word of God, The future events foretold relate only to one period; but the practical remarks with which they are interspersedare equally profitable in all periods. Theliteral meaning of the events predicted, and a knowledge of their coincidence with the prophecy, may, be acquired only by a few; but the practical remarks are level to the capacity of all; so that the word of God,' even in the darkest passages, *maketh wise the fimple.'

Thus (Isa. Ixi. 1.-3.) the prophet describes the personal ministry of the Mesliah, for so our Lord applies it, (Luke iv. 17.-21.) At the 4th verse, the prophet suddenly passes on to the restoration of the Jewish nation, which takes place at the Millennium. Betwixt the personal ministry of the Messiah and the Millennium, no less than two thousand years elapse. Is any apt to suppose, that the latter event quickly fucceeds the former ? Let him carefully peruse the prophet, from the 40th chapter, and he will

, find, in the several parallel vicws of thc fame time, that the rejection of the Jews, the admis. fion of the Gentiles into the church, the

promulgation of the gospel among all nations, conftantly intervene betwixt the personal ministry of the Mefliah and the Millennium. In the paffage where the transition is made, he says,

They (that is the restored Jews) shall build “ the old waftes-repair the desolations of

many generations." These expressions imply, that many generations should intervene betwixt the personal ministry of the Messiah and the restoration promifed, during which time the


land should lie waste. In a word, the design of the prophet is to shew, that the Jews must submit to the Messiah, and receive the Gospel, previous to the restoration which he describes ; fo that the connection of his ideas is more easily discerned, by his leaving out the intermediate events.

The prophet Daniel (xi. 5.--35.) gives an accurate detail of the treaties and wars betwixt the kingdoms of Egypt and Syria, from the partition of the Grecian monarchy among the successors of Alexander the Great, down to Antiochus Epiphanes, whose history he concludes ver. 35. He immediately proceeds (ver. 36.) to give an account of the great Antichrist, who should appear in the latter times of the church. But here the connection obviously appears to be the similarity of character. He shews Antiochus Epiphanes as the greatest enemy of thetrue religion, who should appear under the Mosaic dispensation, after his own time ; he next points out Antichrist, as the greatest enemy to the true religion, who should appear under the Gospel dispensation. It is not necessary to suppose, that the latter should quickly succeed the former. The prophet has sufficient. ly guarded against such a mistake, (chap. vii.) There he notes the time of the great Antichrift's appearance, by the revolutions of the four universal monarchies. He not only shews the third



dissolved, of which the dominion of Antiochus Epiphanes made a part ; but the fourth which succeeded it, divided into several separate inde. pendent kingdoms, among which arose the little horn prefiguring Antichrift.

V. Many of the prophecies have two events in view at the same time. The prophets represent remote and more illustrious events, in preceding and less important transactions, while the language happily conforms itself to both events. “ It is, as it were, a robe of state for the one, “ and only the ordinary accustomed dress of “ the other.” Making allowance for a mixture of hyperbole, it may be accommodated to the nearer event ; in its plain and literal sense, it is applicable to the more remole event. Thus, Pfal. Ixxii. appears from the title to foretel the glory of Solomon's kingdom, but under that type adumbrates the superior glory of the Melfiah's reign.

The prophecy of Joel (ii. 28.--32.) concerning the effusion of the Spirit, is applied to the apostolical age, (Acts ii. 16.--21.); but from the connection of the passage with what goes before, it seems to point likewise to a period still future, the conversion of the Jewish nation, which precedes the Millennium. Several prophecies con

cerning (1) Hurd's Sermons, ix.

cerning the fall of Babylon, and the return of the Jews from thence, particularly the prophecy contained in the goth and sist chapters of seremiah, look forward to the fall of mystical Babylon, and the return of the Jews from their present dispersion. The prophecies of Ezekiel concerning Tyre, chap. xxvii. and of Nahum concerning Nineveh, seem to have an aspect to papal Rome; and that of Ezekiel, chap. xxviii. concerning the prince of Tyre, refers to the ruler of papal Rome. The prophecy of Isaiah (chap. xxii. 15.--25.) respecting the expullion of Shebna, and the investiture of Eliakim with the office of treasurer, points to the fall of Antichrist, and the visible establishment of Christ's kingdom, as the consequence of it. One part of the prophecy is thus applied, (Rev.iii.7.) and the sense of the other part is established by the connection. The authority of the New Testament directs to such a twofold meaning of prophecy. The expressions used, Isaiah xlv. 23.

every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall swear,” are applied to the effect of the Gospel on the hearts and lives of those who receive it, Phil. ii. 10. and to the fubmiffion of enemies as well as friends, before a throne of judgment, Rome, ziv. II.

« Unto me

« PreviousContinue »