« PreviousContinue »
if we bear in mind the genius and character of the Jewish prophecies. The former event, signified in the prophecy, was merely civil : the latter, concerned the spiritual kingdom of Christ. They were both predicted together: and the preceding event, when it came to pass, was, further, to induce an expectation, that the other event would, in due time, follow. For
2. Secondly, it appears, that, to excite attention to these spiritual predictions, more obscure than the other, and regarding events more remote, care was taken to secure the authority of the prophet, by the completion of his civil predictions in events, distinctly described, and near at hand. Thus, Moses might
3. It was, farther, a TokEN, or pledge, that the remote deliverance of the house of David by Immanuel, should hereafter take place, just as the approaching deliverance of Ahaz, by the prophet's Son, would be seen to do. - ‘. . 4. This sign, when fulfilled in the near event, would, thenceforward, become a Proof, or evidence, that it would be fulfilled in the remote one.
5. Lastly, in the Antitype, the sign was a MIRACLE, properly so called.
So eminently was this Child, a sic's ' A sign, in all the
senses of the word, as employed by the Jewish prophets; and to all the purposes, for which signs were given.
so be believed by the Jews in what he said, of a
prophet to be raised up, in a future age, like to himself; when they saw his prophetic blessings and curses upon them, according to their deserts in the land of Canaan, so speedily and so punctually executed. Thus, too, their prophet, Isaiah, might reasonably expect to find credit with them, for the glorious things predicted by him of the great deliverer, the Messiah; when their deliverance from the Babylonish captivity was seen so certainly to verify his prediction of that event. The prophet himself exults in this argument, as decisive and unanswerable. Behold, says he, in the text, the former things are come to pass, i. e. the prophecies, I have delivered to you concerning your redemption from the Assyrian bondage, will soon be so exactly completed, that I regard them as things past; and therefore new things do I declare; hence I claim your belief of other prophecies, concerning a much greater redemption, to take place hereafter, though there be no appearance, as yet, of any causes tending to produce it, for before they spring forth, I tell you of them. And this appears to be the general method of all o God's pro
3. With these new things, these Spiritual prophecies concerning the first coming of the Messiah, were likewise intermixed other prophecies, which ran out beyond that term, and prefigured the great events of his SEcoSD coming: and the warrant for admitting these, would be the completion of those other prophecies, in the person and sufferings of Christ'. That there are such prophecies in the Old Testament, will be shewn hereafter. In the mean time, it will not be thought incredible, that, if Jesus be indeed the end of the prophetic scheme, the revolutions of his government should be foretold, as well as the circumstances of his personal appearance; in other words, that the consummation of that design, which Providence was carrying on, would not be overlooked, when the steps and gradations of it were so distinctly noted. For, in any reasonable design whatsoever, the end is first and principally in view, though the means engage, and may seem to engross, the attention of its author. It will then, I say, be no surprise to us to find, that prophecy set out with announc
o o, . . o
f Ers, 3% rotovy * * % -41. &zoosovo, wo, # yeviaozi, w;oxtonoux0a 3& rāy w;04:13, &,4}xn x2' wift to &Mosa's orpoolsv%,129, woxx4:12, 3} %y:1924, worly oxey & zász,
so ing the kingdom of the Messiah; that it never
lost sight of that future oeconomy; and onl g y y
produced it into clearer view, as the season ap
proached for the introduction of it.
Thus Much concerning the order and method of the Jewish prophecies; in which one cannot but adore the profound wisdom of their author. The civil prophecies are, at once, the vehicle, and the credentials, of the spiritual, concerning the first coming of Jesus; and these last, in their turn, support the credit of others, which point still further at his second coming: a subject, more than intimated by the legal prophets, but resumed and amply displayed by the evangelical. Whence we see, that the prophetic system is so constructed, as, in the progress and various evolutions of it, to illustrate itself, and to afford an internal
evidence of its divinity. One great purpose pervades the whole: and the parts, of which
it consists, gradually prepare and mutually
sustain each other.
But this subject, so curious and important, is not yet to be dismissed. It remains to be considered, whether chance, or imposture, can in any degree account for so extensive, so conmected, and so intricate a system.
On the very face of the prophetic scriptures it appears, that one ultimate purpose is in the contemplation of all the prophets. This purpose is unfolded by successive predictions, delivered in distant times, under different circumstances, and by persons, who cannot be suspected of acting in concert with each other. It does not appear, that the later prophets always understood the drift of the more ancient; or, that either of them clearly apprehended the wholescope and purpose of their own predic
tions. Yet, on comparing all their numerous
prophecies with each other, and with the events, in which it is now presumed they have had their completion, we find a perfect harmony and consistency between them. Nothing is advanced by one prophet, that is contradicted by another. An unity of design is conspicuous in them all; yet without the least appearance of collusion, since each prophet hath his own peculiar views, and enlarges on facts and circumstances, unnoticed by any other.
Further still, these various and successive prophecies are so intimately blended, and, as we may say, incorporated with each other, that the credit of all depends on the truth of each. For, the accomplishment of them fall- VOL. V. I