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Hence we see the importance of prophetic history. It prepares the world for those great events, which in the wisdom of Providence are to happen in it, and it shows by the accuracy of the fulfilment of them, the veracity and the superintending agency of God. This leads the mind to an awful sense of his majesty, and a profound trust in his declarations and promises, and it renders the good man, who ascribes wisdom and honour and glory and blessing to his name, watchful of his providence, and anxious to secure the divine protection. It connects in the mind of such a man, the appointments of Heaven with the events and business of the world, and causes him to consider human beings as agents of the divine administration, and workers together with God. This produces contentment, resignation, and confidence under all the changes and chances of life, and meets that very disposition which of all others is most pleasing to God, and best adapted to our nature and circumstances. And whilst such a disposition is the source of every earthly comfort, as being that which religion sanctifies and the world approves, it prepares us at the same time for those highest and noblest ends of our existence, a participation of Christ's glory, and a residence with him, and his holy angels, for ever in heaven.
PROPHECIES APPLIED BY JESUS TO HIMSELF.
LUKE XXIV. 27.
AND BEGINNING AT MOSES AND ALL THE PROPHETS, HE EXPOUNDED UNTO THEM IN ALL THE SCRIPTURES THE THINGS CONCERN
THERE is scarcely any argument in favour of the truth of Christianity more strong, than that which arises from the infidelity of the Jews. To them the oracles of divine Revelation were entrusted by God. They had the keeping of them, and they were kept by them with scrupulous care and exactness. The Jews, as a nation, rejected the Gospel. They put to death, by a public execution, its great Founder and Teacher, and renounced all communion with his Apostles and adherents. It could not, therefore, be said, that any agreement which subsisted between the ancient prophecies and the life and conversation of Jesus, was the result of contrivance and artifice, and was brought about by a preconcerted scheme between the champions of the old Law and the propagators of the new. Such agreement, whatever was its kind or its extent, must have resulted from other causes than those of collusion and deceit. The
Jews, as the avowed enemies of Christianity, had every motive in the world to shun such collusion. They held their Law to be inviolable and perpetual, and the religion of Jesus, which professed to be founded on that Law, went the whole length of abrogating its ceremonies, and breaking up its institutions as a civil polity. Nothing fired the indignation of the Jew more strongly than this. It struck at the root of his earliest and fondest prejudices, at the first lessons of his infancy, and the last hopes and expectations of his maturer years. Hence, the contest between the respective parties was of the sharpest kind, and the disbelief of the Jews in the divine originality of the Gospel, is a standing evidence at this day, of the purity of their own Scriptures, and of the impossibility of any collusion. For they produce those Scriptures to refute the pretensions of Jesus, and have kept themselves, like men jealous of their rights, aloof from all intercourse with those who support the contrary.
Our blessed Lord uniformly maintained his ground as the Messiah out of the Law and the Prophets. They are they," said he, "which testify of me." He appealed on all occasions to the authority of Scripture, both for the professions which he made, and the doctrines which he taught. If these professions and these doctrines could not be proved out of the ancient Writings, they who had those Writings in their keeping were at hand to object, and to refute him. And we find that they endeavoured to do so on repeated occasions. Nothing,
therefore, can be more valuable than the testimony of the Jews to the truth of their Scriptures, and their violent opposition to the pretensions and doctrines of Jesus. For it not only puts aside all possibility of collusion, but leaves the great question of the truth of the Christian religion to stand or fall by its own merits.
It is a remarkable circumstance in the history of our blessed Lord, that after his resurrection from the dead, when rumours of that great event began to be circulated, and men scarcely knew what to believe, he joined himself to two of his disciples journeying to Emmaus, and took a part in their conversation on that subject. He had it in his power to have satisfied their doubts at once by disclosing himself to them, but instead of that, he chose to convince their reason before he gratified their senses, and therefore, "beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, he expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself." Having shown, by the authority of divine Revelation, that "thus it behoved Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead," he suddenly discovered himself to them, and imme diately vanished out of their sight. This proves his strong anxiety to identify himself with the ancient Scriptures, and to rest his claims to the Messiahship on that sure foundation. Why should he take such a circuitous mode of convincing his disciples when he could have removed all possible doubt at once, unless he felt, that this was the strong-hold of his pretensions, and that they who once admitted
the force of this testimony, could never be shaken from their belief? The evidence of prophecy will stand its ground even when that of miracles is disputed, because the one is the attestation of history to facts, the other that of individuals to themselves. Accordingly, our blessed Lord's miracles were rejected as proof of the genuineness of his character, even by those who witnessed the performance of them and allowed them to be truly miracles, whilst the correspondence between his life and the declarations of the Prophets was so evident, as to bid defiance to all opposition.
Jesus well knew, that with the cessation of his personal ministry and its miraculous accompaniments, much of the influence which was thrown around his cause would cease, and that they who followed him in the career of reformation, with whatever powers they might be endued, would have to depend for their success upon arguments and proofs drawn from the Sacred Writings. His conversation, therefore, with the two travellers to Emmaus, teaches a useful lesson to his disciples, directing them where to seek for the evidences of their faith, and implying that those evidences will make them wise unto salvation. Every one is not born to be a spectator of his actions, or to behold his personal manifestation of himself in the flesh, but every one has the Scriptures laid open to his inspection, and is bound so to study them, as to "be able to give an answer to every man that asketh him a reason of the hope that is in him." And this reason is to stand to him in the