« PreviousContinue »
stances which preceded and distinguished it, are described with such accuracy in several prophecies as to have wrought full conviction in many persons who were long prejudiced against Christianity. That he should be rejected and persecuted by his own nation was expressly asserted in Psalms ii. Ixix. and by Isaiah in his twenty-ninth chapter, from verse 10 to the end ; again in chapter xlix. verse 7; “ thus saith the Lord, the Redeemer of Israel and his holy one, to him whom man despiseth, to him whom the nation abhorreth, &c.” Also in the following chapter, where the Messiah pathetically complains of being contemned by those whom he came to save; but in the fifty-third chapter this is still more explicitly declared, “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.”
That he should be betrayed by a familiar friend, and one of his own companions, is particularly mentioned in Psalm xli. “ Yea mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me.”
The scourging, and other marks of abuse inflicted upon Christ, were also foretold, and as his enemies were far from intending any such fulfilment of the prophecies in his person, as might prove him to be the Messiah, the coincidence altogether is a convincing
proof that he alone was the promised Redeemer. Thus he speaks in the prophecy of Isaiah, “I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting,” (1. 6). And that he should be treated as a criminal, suffer every indignity, and finally be put to a cruel death, is plainly shewn in the fifty-third chapter of the same prophecy. The royal psalmist speaks of the blasphemous language with which the holy sufferer was actually treated while lie hung upon the cross; “ all they that see me laugh me to scorn, they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, he trusted in the Lord that he would deliver him: let him deliver him seeing he delighted in him.” (Ps. xxii. 7, 8). So exact is the prophetic description of this awful history, that there is not a single feature of it, but what has a pointed prediction. Thus, in the last mentioned psalm, the action of the soldiers in “parting the garments and casting lots for the vesture of Christ” is directly asserted : in the sixty-ninth psalm another remarkable incident in the history of the passion is directly alluded to; “I looked for some to take pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none. They gave me also gall for my meat, and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.”
To the preservation of bis bones, contrary to the custom observed towards crucified malefactors, the psalmist thus evidently
alludes, "many are the afflictions of the righteous,
but the Lord delivereth him out of them all. He keepeth all his bones : not one of them is broken” (xxxiv, 19, 20). The piercing of his side by the Roman soldier in order to ascertain, or to ensure his death, is thus mentioned in another part of prophetic scripture; “and I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem the spirit of grace and of supplication, and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced” (Zech. xii. 10).
So niinute is the prophetic history of the Messiah, as to mention even the circumstance attending his burial, for it declares that though he was to be numbered with transgressors, or to be put to death in the company of malefactors, yet an honourable interment should be given to his body. made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth (Is. liii. 9). The exact accomplishment of this prediction, when Joseph of Arimathea obtained the body of Jesus from Pilate, and laid it in his own tomb, is a coincidence which cannot be justly considered as accidental, nor attributed to human contrivance.
The most glorious event in the history of Christ, and that in which we are most interested, is the circumstance of his resurrection, in the assurance of which our faith is con
firmed and the certainty of a future state determined.
This great article of our creed also forms a part of the chain of prophecies relating to the Messiah, and there is connected with it a plain declaration of his ascension into Heaven. The royal psalmist says, “ Thou wilt not leave my soul in Hell,” or in the state of the dead, “ neither wilt thou suffer thy Holy One to see corruption. Thou wilt shew me the path of life; in thy presence is fulness of joy, and at thy right hand are pleasures for evermore.” (Ps. xvi. 10, 11.) This passage is cited by St. Peter, (Acts ii. 27.) and is proved to have been fulfilled only in the person of Jesus; for as the Apostle justly observes, “David was both dead and buried, and his sepulchre still continued,” so that the prediction could not relate to him: but in the resurrection and ascension of Christ it was in all its parts completely verified.
Thus have we an exact harmony between the books of prophecy and the gospel history, agreeable to the solemn declaration of Jeho vah, “I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me; des claring the end from the beginning; and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, my counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure.” (Is. xlvi. 9, 10).
London: Printed by W. Bulmer and Co.
Cleveland-row, St. James's.
to the Plates contained in this Volume.