« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
from Galilee.” Through the throng of these astonished spectators the procession passed by the public streets of Jerusalem to the temple, where immediately the sacred porticoes resound with the continued hosannas of the multitudes. The chief priests and scribes are astonished and alarmed: they request Jesus himself to silence his followers. Jesus in the early part of his ministry had always been cautious of any public display of personal consequence ; lest the malice of his enemies should be too soon provoked, or the unadvised zeal of his friends should raise civil commotions : but now that his work on earth was finished in all but the last painful part of it, — now that he had firmly laid the foundations of God's kingdom in the hearts of his disciples, – now that the apostles were prepared and instructed for their office, — now that the days of vengeance on the Jewish nation were at hand, and it mattered not how soon they should incur the displeasure of the Romans their masters, — Jesus lays aside a reserve which could be no longer useful; and instead of checking the zeal of his followers, he gives a new alarm to the chief priests and scribes, by a direct and firm assertion of his right to the honours that were so largely shown to him. “ If these,” says he, “ were silent, the stones of this building would be endued with a voice to proclaim my titles :" and then, as on a former occasion, he drove out the traders; but with a higher tone of authority, calling it his own house, and saying, My house is the house of prayer ; but ye have made it a den of thieves." — You have now the story, in all its circumstances, faithfully collected from the four evangelists ; nothing exaggerated, but set in order, and perhaps somewhat illustrated by an application of old prophecies and a recollection of Jewish customs. Judge for yourselves whether this was not an advent of the Lord Jehovah taking personal possession of his temple.
Thus, in one or in all, but chiefly in the last, of these three remarkable passages of his life, did Jesus of Nazareth display in his own person, and in his con. duct claim, the first and greatest character of the Messiah foretold and described by all the preceding Jewish prophets, as well as by Malachi in the text, - the Lord coming to his temple. The other characters, when we resume the subject, will with no less evidence
appear in him.
MALACHI, iii. 1, 2.
And the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to
his temple, even the Messenger of the Covenant, whom ye delight in : behold, He shall come, saith
the Lord of Hosts. But who may abide the day of his coming ? and who
shall stand when he appeareth ?
This text of Malachi has turned out a fruitful subject; more so, perhaps, than the first general view of it might seem to promise. We have already drawn from this text ample confirmation of some of the chief articles of our most holy faith : we have seen their great antiquity: we have found that they affirm nothing of our Lord but what the Jews were taught to look for in the person whom we believe our Lord to be, the Messiah: we have had occasion to expound some important texts, — to open many passages of prophecy, -- to consider some remarkable passages in the life of Jesus, - to make some general observ. ations on the style of the sacred writers, to recall the remembrance of some customs of the ancient Jews; by all which, we trust that we have thrown some light upon interesting texts of Scripture, and have furnished the attentive hearer with hints which he who shall bear them in remembrance may apply to make light in many other places for himself. This harvest of edification which hath been already collected encourages me to proceed in the remainder of my subject, with the same diligence and exactness which I have used in the former part of it ; and I trust that it will engage you to give me still your serious attention.
We have already found in Jesus of Nazareth that great character of the Messiah — the Lord of the Jewish temple. Such Jesus was; and such, by three remarkable actions in three different periods of his ministry, he had claimed to be. Let us now look narrowly for the second character, — that of the Messenger of the Covenant ; of that covenant of which the establishment was so explicitly foretold by the prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel.
In general, that Jesus was the proposer of a covenant between God and man, is much too evident to need any laboured proof. Did he not announce blessings on the part of God ? did he not acquire duties in return from men ? Now, an offer of blessings from God, with a demand of duties in return from men, is, in the Scripture language, a covenant between God and man. It was thus that the promises to Abraham were a covenant : it was promised to Abraham, that his posterity should become a numerous nation, prosperous in itself, and a means of blessing to all the families of the earth : it was required, in return, of Abraham and his posterity, to keep themselves pure from the general corruption of idolatry, and to adhere to the true worship of the true God. Thus, also, the Mosaic institution was a covenant: the land of Canaan was given to the
Jews: a strict observance is required of the rituals of the Mosaic law, and obedience to the prophets who should succeed Moses. And thus the Christian institution is a covenant : the sins of men are forgiven, through the sacrifice of Christ ; eternal happiness is offered to them in the world to come: Christians are required, in return, to fear, love, and honour God — to make open profession of the faith in Christ — to love one another — to do good to all men — to forgive their enemies — to control their passions, and to deny all sinful appetites. Jesus, therefore, it is evident, propounded the terms of a covenant : and he made the proposal on the part of God; for he declared that he came from God, and the works which he did by the finger of God bore ample testimony to him. But this is not sufficient : it must be examined whether the covenant which Jesus propounded bears the character of that which is described in the writings of Jeremiah and Ezekiel ; for that being the covenant intended by Malachi in the text, if the covenant propounded by Jesus were any other, although he would still be the messenger of a covenant, he would not be that messenger whom Malachi predicts, — that messenger which the Messiah was to be; and, by consequence, he would not be the Messiah. Now, the first remarkable character which we find in Jeremiah and Ezekiel of the covenant which they describe is, that it should be new, or different from the Mosaic institution. And this same character we can be at no loss to find in the covenant propounded by Jesus.
The Mosaic institution required duties of a ceremonial service : Jesus requires the natural devotion of the heart, the reasonable sacrifice of an innocent and holy life. And the social