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The due consideration of the many minute circumstances respecting our Lord's first coming, literally and expressly described so long beforehand; the many improbable and apparently contradictory events respecting him, which were foretold successively, for nearly four thousand years, connected with their exact accomplishment, as related to us by eye-witnesses who laid down their lives in confirmation of their testimony; and corroborated as that is by the actual state of the world at present;—such a consideration is peculiarly calculated to strengthen and establish our faith in Christ.

Especially, when we remember further, that those very prophecies are now in the possession of the [43] Jews—the avowed enemies of Jesus of Nazareth. They thus become unsuspected and unexceptionable librarians, living witnesses, testifying to all ages that the predictions have been preserved unaltered. If it be asked how it is that they are not themselves convinced, the answer is sufficient; multitudes were convinced by this very evidence, when the events had taken place, and the hardness of heart of others, and their rejection of Christ, were expressly foretold in the very same writings, and form an actual part of those prophetic records of which they are the depositories.

The exact literalness with which many of the minutest circumstances of our Saviour's life and death were foretold and then accomplished, the very town where he was to be born, the place where he was to begin to preach, his riding on an ass and a colt, the various kinds of sufferings which he was to endure, scourging, spitting upon, and casting lots for his vesture, his hanging on the tree, dying and not a bone broken; the rejection of him by his people; the union of them and the Gentiles and their rulers against him, these things are not only confirmatory as an evidence, but instructive as an interpretation of prophecy. If the shame and rejection have been minutely fulfilled, so shall the glory and future welcome of him: if the humiliation has been literally realized, so shall the coming kingdom.

There must doubtless have been many things, however, though now we distinctly see the literal fulfilment of the predictions respecting the first coming, which were extremely confounding to the Jews. Even the disciples of our Lord were staggered again [44] and again at the shame, the cross, and the sufferings of our Redeemer. The predictions of these were so bries, compared with the predicted glories of his kingdom, that the two disciples going to Emmaus after his resurrection, still only venture to say “we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel,” and need the Saviour's exposition of the things concerning himself. Till divinely taught, they were disappointed at the mysteries of the cross and the delay of hope, and had to learn that lesson of faith and patient waiting which God is still teaching his church, with regard to the glories of his second coming. “But blessed' were they who were not offended in him in all the lowliness of his first coming,” (Matt. ii. 6.) and "blessed are all they that wait for him," (Isa. xxx. 18.) and “blessed is that servant whom his Lord when he cometh shall find diligently employed in his service, and ready for his coming.Matt. xxiv. 44-46.

Let it also never be forgotten that our Saviour is now spiritually present with his church, “Lo! I am with you alway, even to the end of the world.” Matt. xxviii. 20. "Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” Matt. xviii. 20. This his spiritual coming and presence is of unutterable moment to us, "He that loveth me, shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself unto him." John xiv. 21. O may we enjoy it continually; it will especially make us long for the happy time when we shall no longer "see through a glass darkly; but face to face,” (1 Cor. xiii. 12.) visibly meet and ever be with our Lord. 1 Thess. iv. 17.

The disregard by the Jews of the prophecies respecting our Lord's humiliation, and their consequent national rejection, is also full of instructive warning [45] to us.* If the neglect of those more obscure and less frequent prophecies which concerned his sufferings was attended with so fearful an issue, may not we Christians be justifying the Jews in their unbelief, and adding thereto fresh unbelief, if we disregard and disbelieve those far more numerous and clear prophecies which concern his future coming, kingdom, and glory. His spiritual presence is a blessing to his disciples; they experience, they enjoy it, but the world understands it not and cares not for it. His future visible coming does, however, speak directly to the fears and comprehension of all men. Our Lord tells his dis

* The prophecies of the first advent have been treated of frequently and at length, and, with the New Testament to guide their interpretation of them, Christians have in general professed agreement in their views respecting them. Yet there is much roon for fuller research even on these prophecies. The scope of the context in the original writer of each quotation; the reason of their dispersed form; the distinction of those parts of the prophecy which belong to the first advent from those relating to the second; the spiritual significance of the varied events of the life of our Redeemer,--all these give a wide field of thought and instruction little explored. Prophecy may justly be compared to a very deep, rich, and extended mine. Little of it is known on the outside, especially to the areless observer. We must enter into its hidden chambers, and go through it with diligent investigation, even to discover its treasures; and to be enriched by it, requires patient labour and appropriating faith.

ciples of his spiritual presence, (Matt. xxviii. 20.) he tells the high priest and all the council of his personal and visible coming in the clouds. Matt. xxvi. 64.

It is one great practical benefit of studying the prophecies, that we thereby grow in grace and in the knowledge of Jesus Christ. All the prophecies are parts of the testimony of Jesus; they shew the fulness and extent of his propitiation; the freeness and completeness of his salvation; the safety of the people given to him; the amazing love which he bears to them; [46] the joy which he has in their bliss, and his purpose to glorify them for ever in his happy kingdom. The prophecies set before us all the gracious titles which he bears for them, and the offices which he sustains in their behalf. The most touching expressions of his care, faithfulness, and love abound in them, and not one jot or tittle shall pass till all be fulfilled.

Now, in the patient, prayerful reading of these, the soul is raised to sweet communion with our beloved Redeemer, and to delightful anticipations of a day when, freed from the body of sin and death, and with bodies fashioned according to his, we shall be like him, and see him as he is. 650 when shall it be? when,” says the soul of the believer, “shall I cease to grieve and dishonour him by my sins who has so loved me-I groan, being burdened, for that I would be clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life!"

CHAPTER IV.

GENERAL APPLICATION OF PROMISES IN THE PROPHECIES.

[47] The prophetic writings should be carefully read, not merely for the future events which they foretel, but as everywhere bearing the rich treasures of divine truth; and furnishing noble displays of the glory of God; and clear manifestations of the way of salvation, of the duties of the creature, and of his dependance on the Creator. They are full of deep doctrines; sweet promises; holy precepts, and heart-stirring motives to follow the will and to live to the praise of the great and eternal Jehovah. Their holiness speaks their divinity even before their fulfilment has made it a demonstration; their present usefulness declares the wisdom and loving-kindness of the Lord, even before their accomplishment has displayed his omniscient eye, his omnipotent arm, his perfect equity, and his boundless grace.

Prophecy is like a richly-freighted vessel returning from a distant land, and conveying those on board it safely to their home. It contains all needful provision and comfort for the use of the crew during [48] the whole length of voyage, and besides this, it has a still more valuable cargo to be enjoyed by the owners, when the perils of the sea, and all its storms and tempests have been passed through. Though the passengers may be distant from their own land, they are gradually approaching nearer and nearer, and while they are sailing day and night homewards, every present want is supplied by the abundant stores which the vessel contains for their use: but the chief riches of the vessel are reserved for the end of the voyage. Let us look, then, now for a moment at the daily provision made for our immediate and personal wants.

In the Prophecies of the Old Testament are contained promises of the richest spiritual blessings. These belong to every Christian, through faith in Jesus, and thus have a fulfilment in reference to Christian believers, beyond their first fulfilment in reference to Israel and Judah, the children of Abraham, after the flesh.

The promises at any time made to the church of God, composed of true believers, belong to them in similar circumstances at all times. They display the will of Him who is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever, and who has given and revealed these promises as revealing his mind towards his people, and for the benefit of the church at large. The promises of spiritual blessings made originally to the Old Testament church, are now properly applied to, and really inherited by the Christian church, and will only be inherited by any as they believe in Jesus Christ.

This is so important a part of divine truth, that it calls for particular proof and illustration.

[49] The Jews derive their right to the promises of the blessings of the Messiah from the covenant made with Abraham: that covenant included promises that he should be a father of many nations: that his seed should be multiplied as the stars of heaven, and as the sand which is

the sea-shore; and that in his seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed. Gen. xxii. 17, 18. Abraham was a father of many nations, literally; but the apostle shews in the 4th of Romans, that he is the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised. There is a seed not only which is of the law, but that also which is of the faith of our father Abraham, as it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations. Rom. iv. 11–17. These are the

upon

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children of the promise, as well as the children of the flesh.* Rom. ix. 8.

Jesus Christ is the uniting corner-stone of the Jewish and Gentile churches, “who hath made both one-an holy temple in the Lord." Ephes. ii. 11-22. He was the promised seed of Abraham in the fullest sense. Gal. iii. 16. By faith in him we are united to him, and become one with him; and in this way alone are either Jews or Gentiles true children of Abraham. Gal. iii. 25-29. Rom. ix. 6-8.

The Apostle speaks to the Hebrews of the superior privileges of the Christian Dispensation in these terms—“Ye are come to Mount Zion, and unto the city [50] of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem;" Heb. xii. 22. plainly intimating, as the context sufficiently shews, that the Gentile Christians partook of the privileges of Mount Zion and the Jerusalem on which the blessing of God rested. St. Paul tells us, "there is a Jerusalem which is above, which is free, which is the mother of us all, in contradistinction from the Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children. Gal. iv. 25, 26. It is evident that the Apostle includes in the Jerusalem which is above, (typified by Sarah) the whole church which has its origin from heaven, is espoused to Christ, and is the mother of all believers, whether Jews or Gentiles, who are born of the Spirit by means of the word and ordinances which are dispensed in the church. It is plain, therefore, that following the Apostle, we are warranted in considering the promises of spiritual blessings to be conferred on Jerusalem, as belonging to the universal church of Christ.

Our Lord assured the Jews, that those who do not the works of Abraham, are not the true children of Abraham, though lineally descended from him. John viii. 39.

The Apostle shews at length, in Rom. iv. ix. x. xi. and Gal. ii. iv. that those who had not Abraham's faith had no interest in the spiritual blessings which he obtained. He shews that the promises of the Old Testament belong only to the true church, and will only be realized to each true believer. While he excludes the literal Israel, not believing in Christ, (Rom. ix. 7, 9, 31; xi. 7.) he expressly says to the Gentiles, “If ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according

* Bishop Hall uses far too strong language. He says, "Whosoever shall have duly digested this distinction, will easily find how wild a paradox it is to tie those frequent and large promises of the prophets made to Judah, Israel, Zion, and Jerusalem, to a carnal literality of sense, and to make account of their accomplishment accordingly, which were never otherwise than spiritually meant. We may take all the benefit of promises of spiritual blessings, and still know that the prophecy has a yet more extended literal interpretation, and that pregnant also with far more extended spiritual blessings.

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