« PreviousContinue »
Who shall be a priest after the order of Melchisedeck? Who shall have a body prepared him to offer instead of the sacrifices of the law? Who shall have his hands and feet pierced in his sufferings, and his vesture parted by lot? Who shall make his soul an offering for sin? Who shall be bruised, grieved, and afflicted by God himself, because he shall bear the iniquities of his people? Who shall make atonement for transgressors, and bring in an everlasting righteousness? Who shall for ever make intercession for transgressors? Who shall sit at the right hand of God in his rule over the whole world? But these men indeed, take a ready way to destroy all religion, and to turn the whole bible to an idle story of earthly things, without either life, spirit, or heavenly mystery in it.
THE PROMISED MESSIAH IS LONG SINCE COME.
§1. Introduction. The time of the Messiah's coming, first determined by the prophecy of Jacob, concerning Shiloh. §2-4. The words of it briefly explained. §5-8. The argument deduced from it. §9. Haggai's prophecy concerning the glory of the second house. §10. What house intended. §11-13. What the glory of it. $14, 15. The argument from it, concerning the Messiah, confirmed. A parallel testimony from Malachi.
$1. THE second great principle, supposed by the apostle in all his epistle to the Hebrews, and which he lays as the foundation of all his arguments, is, that the Messiah, whom we have proved to have been promised from the foundation of the world, was actually come, and had finished the work appointed for him, when he wrote that epistle.
Now, this determination of time inquired after, was first made by Jacob, Gen. xlix, 8-9. But here we may remark, respecting the line of succession, that as, after the promise given to Abraham, the Messiah might have sprung from any family whatever of his posterity, by Isaac, until the limitation was made by Jacob to the person of Judah; and after that limitation, might have done so from any family of his tribe or posterity, until the confinement of that privilege to the person of David; so no restriction being afterwards added, his production by any person of his posterity, whether in an alliance nearer to, or farther from the reigning line, was all that was included in the promise.
The great masters among the Jews are exceedingly perplexed with the testimony above quoted, and have, therefore, invented endless ways for the enervating of it, openly and loudly contradicting one another almost about every word in the text. It were, therefore, not only endless to consider all their several expositions, but also useless, being so fully confuted by each other.*
2. The subject here spoken of is Judah; that is, the tribe of Judah. Now this tribe may be considered, either absolutely in itself, as it was in a separated state in the wilderness, without the mixture of any, not of his posterity; or with respect to that accession, which was afterwards made to it occasionally from the other tribes. As, first, from the lot of Simeon falling within its lot in the first inheritance of the land, Josh. xix, 1; whence that tribe, though still keeping its distinct genealogy, was reckoned to Judah, and became one people with them. Secondly, by the cleaving of the tribe of Benjamin, whose lot lay next to it, to the reigning house of David, in the fatal division of the people, 1
*Vid. A. R. Meir, Aben Ezra, Targ. Onkel, &c.
Kings xii, 20, 21, 27; upon which both these tribes were after called by the name of Judah, ver. 20, and the people of both called (17) Jews. Thirdly, by the falling off of the tribe of Levi to it, with multitudes of other good men, out of all the tribes of Israel, upon the idolatry and persecution of Jeroboam, 2 Chron. xi, 13-17; by which means that one tribe quickly became more numerous and potent than all the rest. Lastly, by the mixture and addition of those great numbers which, out of all the tribes of Israel, joined themselves to them upon their return from Babylon, and the restitution of the worship of God amongst them in its proper place. Now, it is Judah, with all these accessions, that is intended in this prophecy, and yet so, as that in the production of the Messiah, the genuine offspring of Judah was still to have the preeminence.
§3. That which is foretold concerning this Judah, is, that it should have (3) a sceptre, and (ppb) a lawgiver, or a writer of laws, for others to observe. What time this should come to pass is not limited; only thus far, that after it once possessed this privilege, it was not to cease till the Shiloh came. Political government in that tribe, the foundation itself of executing this promise, was not laid until about six hundred and twenty years after this time; when the kingdom was given to David. Nor is the kind of government expressed; only that they should be a people having the principle of government among themselves. Whilst they continued such, the sceptre and scribe departed not from them, whatever might be the variety in the outward form. Accidental alterations in the modes of governing make no essential change in the state of the people, or nature of the government. Thus the first constitution of rule in that tribe was absolutely
monarchical; this being imprudently managed by Rehoboam, he lost the ten tribes, who would never afterwards submit to the royal family of Judah. Its retrieval, after the Babylonish captivity, was ducal, or by an honorary president, with a mixture of aristocracy and democracy. Upon the ceasing of these rulers, extraordinarily called, the aristocracy in Sanhedrim prevailed; whereunto succeeded a mixt monarchy in the Hasmoneans; and their interest being ruined by intestine divisions, Herod, by craft and force, intruded himself.
Neither did this usurpation make any essential change in the polity of the nation; for although the rule was not always in the hands of Jews, and Herod was a foreigner, and notwithstanding the turbulent government of the Herodians, with the interposition of the Roman arms, the nation, and, what constitutes a people, its laws and polity, were still continued. In this state things continued amongst them, until the destruction of the commonwealth by Vespasian, and of the city and temple by Titus; only as a presage of the departure of sceptre and scribe, the power of judgment, as to the lives of men, was some years before taken from the Sanhedrim, John xviii, 31.
By the fixation of rule, in general, in Judah, we are freed from any concern in the disputes of learned men, about the precise time of the departure foretold.* And, indeed, if any thing more be intended in this prediction, than that the tribe of Judah should continue in a natural political state, with government in itself, it will be utterly impossible to determine exactly upon the accomplishment of this prophecy.
As Baronius, Scaliger, Casaubon, Bullinger, Montacue, Pererius, A. Lapide, Capellus, Scultetus, Rivetus, Spanhemius, &c.
§4. During the continuance of this sceptre and lawwriter, it is promised that the Shiloh should come. The word () Shiloh, which comes from (sv) shala,to prosper, or save, is used only in this place, and signifies a prosperer, deliverer, or savior; that is, the Messiah. The Jews lay a double exception to the interpretation we give of the original particles (y) which we render until; first, that the former (y) signifies for ever; so that the meaning is, that the sceptre and lawwriter shall not depart from Judah for ever, because the "Shiloh shall come;" the latter particle () being often casual. But although the former may sometimes signify as much as "for ever," (while mostly it signifies adhuc, yet, or as yet) it neither doth, nor can when it is joined, as here, with the other particle () which limits the duration intimated by the subject and sense of the ensuing words they have a respect to. They except again, that (y) is burdened with the accent jethib, which distinguisheth the sense, and puts a stop upon it. But of this they can give no instance when it hath athnac immediately preceding it, as in this place it hath. Besides, sceptre and law-giver are long since actually departed from Judah, and in their judgment the Shiloh not yet come; which perfectly destroys the verity of the prediction.
§5. Having taken this brief view of the words, we may now draw our argument from them: "The Mes"siah, according to this prediction, must come, whilst "the rule and government of Judah were continued, or "before they were utterly taken away; but they are long "since taken away, even since the destruction of the na❝tion, city, and temple, by Titus; and, therefore, the Messiah is long since come." To manifest the uncontrolable evidence of this testimony, and our argument