Imagini ale paginilor

various ages, and were wholly independent of each other persons of different characters and conditions — are found severally contributing distinct portions to the general stock of information respecting the deliverer who was to come. Through their means, the church is furnished with a prophetical description of its Head and Saviour, in a marvellous degree precise and comprehensive. His divine name and nature" - his incarnation in the nature of man -- the nation, the tribe,' and the family from which he was to spring — the preaching of his forerunner — his virgin mothers -- the place of his birth — the date of his coming, - his righteous character — the meekness, humility, and kindness of his disposition", his matchless miracles' the unbelief and contempt to which he was exposed the treason of his familiar friend"_ his vicarious sufferings and violent deatho— the peculiar circumstances by which it was attended; for example, the piercing of his hands and feet," the scornful

a Isaiah ix. 6. Jer. xxiii, 6. b Gen, iii, 15.

c Gen. xxii, 18. d Gen. xlix, 10. e Isaiah xi, 1. f Isaiah xl, 3. Mal. iii, 1.

Isaiah vii, 14. h Micah v, 2. i Dan, ix, 25.
Isaiah xi, 5.

k Isaiah xlii, 2, 3; 1, 6. *I Isaiah xxxv, 5, 6.

m Isaiah liii, 1-3. n Psalm xli, 9. o Isaiah liii, 3–7. p Psalm xxii, 16,

[ocr errors]

motions and taunts of his enemies, the parting of his garments, the casting of lots for his vesture," and the vinegar given him to drink, his resurrection- his ascension“ his intercession-his eternal priesthood"- his reign of glory -- are all delineated by the pencil of prophecy.

Let the student of scripture compare this delineation with the history of Jesus Christ as unfolded in the New Testament, and in the correspondence between the one and the other --in the perfect fitting-in of their respective parts, both prominent circumstances and minute particulars - he will find an evidence of the truth of his religion, of which the cavils of infidelity will never be able to deprive him.

The prophecies respecting Christ and the history of our Saviour in the New Testament, have been elsewhere compared to a lock and key, of a structure so complex and extraordinary as to have no parallel in the world, and yet answering to each other with an easy and perfect exactness.* We may now observe, in addition, that as the lock and key are passive under the hand of the mechanic who forms them, and have no power or tendency whatsoever to produce each other, so it is certain that neither were these prophecies produced by the events, nor the events occasioned by the prophecies.

9 Verses 7, 8.

r Verse 18. s Psalm lxix, 21.

t Psalm xvi, 10. ů Psalm Ixviii, 18.

Isaiah liii, 12. w Psalm cx, 1.

2 Dan. vii. 14, &c. * Essays on Christianity, III. 2nd Edit. p. 60.

1. So precise and extensive a correspondence between prophecy and history as is observable in the present example, might possibly induce a suspicion that the predictions had been forged after the events had happened, and were, in fact, a consequence of the history. But such a suspicion will readily vanish when the subject is examined. The scholar is well aware that the existence of these prophecies long before the date of the history, is proved, first, by quotations made from the Old Testament, not only by the evangelists and apostles but by other Jewish writers, such as Philo and Josephus : secondly, by a Greek version of the whole Hebrew Scriptures made more than two hundred years before the Christian era ; and thirdly, by the very language in which these prophecies were written -- that pure Hebrew, which, when Christ was upon earth, the Jews

had long since ceased either to speak or to write.

But we have internal evidence of the same truth which is open to every discerning eye. The prophecies respecting our Saviour in the Old Testament are found scattered over a wide surface, and in numerous separate books. Some of them are brief declarations obliquely introduced thrown in as hints by the way — and, although full of meaning, obscurely expressed. Sometimes they are mingled with predictions respecting the temporal concerns of the Jews; sometimes they have a subordinate application to some figurative character such as David or Solomon ; and as a whole, they are curiously wrought into that system of types, which may be described as the peculiar genius of the religion of the Hebrews.

Had it not been for the key with which God has provided us in the New Testament, and which searches the most curious and hidden recesses of the lock, many parts of that lock would ever have continued latent. It is an ima portant principle, of which we ought never to lose sight in reference to Scripture prophecy, that it can be fully interpreted only by its events. When the history and doctrine of the New Testament are brought to bear upon these predictions, we immediately perceive their relation to a single subject, and not the slightest doubt can any longer be entertained respecting their true meaning. Nevertheless such is their peculiar position and construction, that no man either would or could have forged them.* Any attempt to compose these prophecies and palm them on the world after the date of the events to which they relate, would have been unlikely and absurd, and success in such an undertaking utterly impossible.

2. It has often been observed that prophecies which relate to circumstances dependent on the will and power of man, and on the working of human passions, have an inherent tendency to accomplish themselves. Now it is certain that there was no such tendency in those

* What a striking illustration of these remarks is afforded us by the following remarkable prophecy respecting our Saviour : “His visage was so marred, more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men ; so shall he sprinkle many nations! Isaiah lii, 14, 15. This strange combination of ideas was probably quite unintelligible both to the prophet and his hearers. But who can now doubt either the meaning or the divine origin of the prediction? It is the New Testament which teaches us that the sufferings of Jesus were the appointed means not only of our reconciliation with God, but of our obtaining that gift of the Holy Spirit, with which, from his throne of glory, he sprinkles (the consciences of] all his believing followers.--See Acts ii, 23–33,

« ÎnapoiContinuați »