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the Jews, was about to gain an universal sovereignty.' He traces this opinion to the Old Testament prophecies. And that such an opinion should prevail in the immediate neighbourhood of Judea is not remarkable. What is remarkable is that it was so rife at this particular time, when all nations, from China to Rome, concurred in the expectation. This is a perfectly unique fact. Nothing like it can be found in the entire history of man. At no other time do we see the eyes of the world turned to one place and to one man.
The reason is evident. The world was without God, and in its orphanage and misery was groping for help. Not a religion remained with vital force and purifying power; all were proved delusions, and, so far as they operated, produced despair and pollution. The various systems of philosophy which attempted recovery had become effete, and there remained no power to stop the downward flow of corruption and misery. Serious thought of man and his destiny was nipped in the bud, because every scene was sorrowful, and no means of deliverance and restoration appeared. When, therefore, the far distant traditions of a saviour were revived, and the sacred books of the Jews gave their full and explicit interpretations of them, it is not surprising that the Messiah of the Jews should become the Desire of all nations. Just in the measure in which their views were explicit and full, they would see in Him all they needed. He was not only a prophet who could teach, but a king who could rule, and by His immediate oversight restrain and help to the recovery of pristine honour and strength. And in His divinity they saw qualities adequate to the recovery, both in extension and duration. How deep the fall which left so many without eyes to see His excellence!
The political condition of the world also was eminently suited to the establishment of the outward and visible rule of the Saviour. The Roman empire extended over the nations of the earth, so that not only every considerable people was included within its boundaries, but by that means had free intercourse with all others. Never before nor since was such a mingling of the nations possible. And at that time the authority was sufficient to secure internal quietness and good order. This, evidently, was a suitable condition of things to the advent of the universal King, and
gave an opportunity, as no previous period had done, for the wide and rapid spread of the good tidings of His birth. Thus the exigencies of the human and secular side were met when the fulness of time came.'
But there was a Divine and heavenly side also. And as on that side there were innumerable hosts of holy and happy beings, who, having passed their probation, were now secure in the perpetual enjoyment of our Redeemer's blessing, but who were, from His human nature and work, to learn the manifold wisdom of God, and were to be His ministers to men; so it was to be expected that they also would in some way exhibit their characteristic agency in this grand heavenly action. Accordingly, one announced the birth distinctly and fully, and a multitude sang the praises of the Creator, who had now fulfilled for their behoof, and more especially for ours, the purpose which lay at the foundation of the whole plan of creation and providence. The Father also bare witness directly of Him at His baptism, and on the mount of transfiguration, when there came a voice from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye Him.' John, the
last and the greatest of the prophets, the connecting link between the preparatory and the perfect dispensations, also bare witness that "He is the Son of God.' On which the Saviour Himself said, “But the witness which I have is greater than that of John; for the works which the Father hath given me to accomplish, the very works that I do, bear witness of me that the Father hath sent me.'
Thus there was no break, nothing lacking; but the whole intelligent universe, by their representatives, turned to Him who was to gather together in Himself all things in heaven and in earth; and this was done with a unanimity which was a pledge of the complete accomplishment of His purpose. We have here a congeries of facts unparalleled in variety, magnitude, and splendour. Human and angelic testimony is given, universal subordination and expectancy are shown, and direct and indirect Divine assurance is proclaimed. But all this is in harmony with the magnitude of the fact itself, and with the relation in which it stands to the race.
This was not an idea to be developed, but a fact to be proclaimed and impressed; and the proclamation and impression were only adequate and
proportionate to the fact. When He descended from heaven to earth that He might raise man to heaven, it was meet that the heavenly host should proclaim His coming, that from the first there might be no mistake as to His nature or His work, and that the heavenly interest in His kingdom might be shown. all through His ministry He was engaged in showing God to man in man, it was necessary that all through that ministry, and at its end, there should be such marks of Divine authority and power as should leave no doubt of the presence of the Godhead in Him. Thus far the outward evidences of Divine action attest His character and confirm His work ; while they not only reveal the moral excellence of the Divine nature, but they also reveal and establish the triune existence of the Divine essence, for which revelation there had not hitherto been scope.
However important an assurance of divinity is, it is not more necessary than the proof of His true humanity. That He was made in all points like unto His brethren, having perfect identification with them in their dependence, privation, infirmity, and suffering, was the only ground on which they could share with Him