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simplicity with which the Evangelists describe, Jesus Christ ? The language of their predictions is the consecrated language of Christian piety and faith. Like that of the songs of Zion and the hymns of early childhood, it is identified with the purest and highest feelings of devotion, Nor would we lightly disturb the association. In the minds of unlearned but sincere disciples, there may be, and doubtless are, mingled with their views of these predictions, some fancies, wbich a severe criticism or careful interpretation would reject. But much as we reverence good learning, we should be slow to remove the error at the bazard of the truth ; and should hardly congratulate ourselves upon our success, if, in taking away the first, we had not with the great Reformer, established the second.
But another, and to our view, the most material argument upon this whole subject, is drawn from the application made of many of these predictions by our Lord to himself; and to the same person in repeated instances by his Evangelists, the historians of his life, and by his Apostles, the first preachers of his faith. This application is in some instances of the most direct and explicit kind; and furnishes an evi. dence to us at least abundant and convincing.
Many passages, we well know, are quoted from the Old Testament into the New, in simple accommodation ; as is usual with one writer to quote from another for illustration or rhetorical ornament. No careful reader of the Gospels will fail to perceive, that many texts borrowed in this manner from the prophetical and other books, have a different meaning from that for which they are here employed: and that the terms " then was fulfilled " or, " this was spoken that it might be fulfilled,” are used by our Lord and his Evangelists not to intimate the connexion of a prediction with its completion, but simply as forms of quotation. This has been so satisfactorily shown by various writers, * and will be
Any one, who may desire satisfaction upon this point, needs only consult Sykes's chapter, “ The Meaning of the Phrase That it might be fulfilled,” in his volume on Prophecy Benson in the Essay already quoted; Everett's “ Defence of Christianity,” Chapter vi. And we have much pleasure in referring to an ingenious and highly satisfactory view of this subject in a dissertation, by Mr. W. G. Eliot
, lately of the Theological School, Cambridge, and printed in the last number of “ The Scriptural Interpreter.”
so readily admitted by all who have given any attention to the subject, that it is scarcely necessary to say, it is not to passages of this class that we refer.
But our Lord repeatedly refers the Jews to their own books for evidence concerning himself; and when, meaning of necessity the Old Testament, he says, “Search the Scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life, and they are they, which testify of me; " when, rebuking their unbelief, he adds, “ If ye had believed Moses, ye would have believed me, for he wrote of me;
yet again, when entering into the synagogue, he opened the book of the prophet Esaias, and read the passage already quoted announcing the object of his mission, and declared concerning it, " This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears ; " when to the woman of Samaria, expressing her expectation of the coming of the Messiah as promised by the Prophets, he says, “I that speak unto thee am he;” and when, after he had risen from the dead, and met his distrusting disciples, he rebukes their slowness of heart to believe what the Prophets had spoken, and beginning with Moses, he expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself, -- in these and in other passages, we find a clear, distinct application of the ancient prophecies by his own lips to himself
. It is the Master's own interpretation of the prophecies, and who will pretend that he did not understand them. Therefore we say, as did Philip to Nathanael, “We have found him, of whom Moses in the law and the Prophets did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph."
And if from the Master we turn to his Apostles and first preachers, after they were instructed in the faith they were commissioned to teach, we find such passages as these. Peter, addressing the men of Israel, amidst their surprise at the miraculous cure of the lame man, says,
" The God of Abraham hath glorified his son Jesus.”—For those things, which God before hath showed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled.” “Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel, and them that follow after, have foretold of these days.”
It is in this connexion the reader will perceive that the Apostle adduces that remarkable prediction, taken from Deuteronomy, “ For
The same Apostle, announcing the gracious purposes
of God for the salvation of the Gentiles, as well as of the Jews, declares, that “to him,” that is, 10 Jesus of Nazareth, "give all the prophets witness"; and Paul, in writing to the Romans, designates himself as called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God, which“ he promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures.'
Now though it should be conceded, that of these and of other predictions we may not ascertain the precise meaning, nor even, of any one of them, may be able to assert to what specifically the prophet points, still their use and value as predictions remain, and the object, moreover, for which they were uttered is accomplished. They were sufficiently clear to produce that expectation, which was entertained alike by the Jewish and the Gentile world ; which not only led a few devout men to wait for redemption in Jerusalem, but was the hope and consolation of all Israel, to which, said Paul, “ the twelve tribes hoped to come.' man of Samaria spoke in the name of her whole people, when she said, “We know that Messiah cometh.' And what but the report of these predictions could have awakened the fears of Herod, or have sent the wise men to inquire “ where the Christ should be born”?
Let it be admitted, also, that the truth of the Christian revelation does not depend upon the literal fulfilment of any prophecies of the Old Testament by Jesus, as a person. Christianity, as has been well said, * is supported by the intrinsic value of its doctrines and precepts, and their adaptation to the wants and weaknesses of man; by the facts recorded in the gospel history ; by the life, death, and resur
Moses truly said unto the Fathers, a prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me. Him shall ye hear in all things. Whether this prediction, as would certainly appear from this citation by the Apostle and again by Stephen, Acts vii. 37, pointed personally and exclusively to Jesus Christ, or, as some critics of note have supposed, it should be interpreted of the long succession of Prophets, beginning at the time of Moses, it still includes the Messiah, who was one, and the most glorious of that succession.
See a candid and impartial view of this matter in the late Rev. Samuel Cary's “Review of a book entitled “The Grounds of Christianity.”” Boston, 1813.
* See Christian Examiner for July, 1834, art. Hengstenberg's Christology."
rection of our Saviour," and especially, we add, by its own independent testimony from prophecy. Christ himself was a prophet, -the greatest of all the prophets; and he uttered many predictions, which the world has seen fulfilled. He foretold bis rejection by his own countrymen, their unbelief and ingratitude, the denial of Peter, the treachery of Judas, the desertion of all his disciples. He foretold his own death, his resurrection, and future glory ; the sufferings which his disciples would endure as the first preachers of his faith; the opposition it would encounter, and yet its spread and triumph in the world. He foretold events more distant than these, — the rejection of his religion by the Jews, the consequent forfeiture of their national privileges, the destruction of their city and temple, and their final dispersion throughout the world. Of the exact fulfilment of all these predictions history affords abundant testimony, and there remain to this day sensible monuments.
The gospel, then, is sustained by the evidence of prophecy, independently of its connexion with the Jewish religion. Nay, take away from Christianity all the testimony it derives either from its own or the ancient Jewish predictions, and though indeed you deprive it of an evidence, which to some minds is irresistible, enough remains, and more than enough, in its internal and historical evidence, in the sublime character of its author, in its beautiful and glorious revelations of the immortal life, to command the faith and to sustain the hopes of all mankind.*
At the same time, the united predictions of the Old and New Testament constitute in our view a most interesting and important part of the evidences of our religion. They are among the various proofs, that “God hath glorified his son Jesus."
* We repeat here, as the writer may have been misapprehended, the statement of this part of our subject; given in the Examiner for July 1834, in the notice of “Hengstenberg's Christology,” already referred to.
6 That Jesus was the Messiah in the sense in which he claimed to be so, we are far from questioning. But whether he can be shown to be the subject of supernatural prophecy or not, he was anointed by God with the holy spirit, and with power to sustain the office of Instructer and Reformer of the world; he was sanctified and sent into the world to accomplish purposes of God, and to introduce a dispensation, for which the whole Jewish economy had been a preparation, and by which the best hopes and most ardent desires of prophets and righteous men would be more than answered." - p. 327.
We number it with the countless tokens of the manifold wisdom of God, that as in the dispensation of the truth itself, so in the evidences by which it is attended, it is graciously adapted to the diversities of men's minds, to their different habits of thought, or degrees of improvement. Thus, the kind of evidence that fails to convince one mind, may be decisive with another; and he, who may refuse his assent, or be slow to believe the word of prophecy, may yield a ready faith to the testimony of miracles. So also, in the nature of the truth, there is mingled doctrine with precept, warnings with invitations; there are promises, that the humblest may hope, and threatenings that the presumptuous
In the remarks we have offered, we have taken only a very cursory view of an important subject. Our readers will perceive, that we have not even glanced at many considerations, which a more extended survey should embrace. The "history of Prophecy” especially, might open a wide and fruitful field; which notwithstanding the learned labors of Grotius, Whiston, Le Clerc, Newton, and Sherlock, in his admirable treatise on “The Use and Intent of Prophecy," might be successfully improved. It is of such an history Lord Bacon says,
that comparing every scripture prophecy with the event, it would serve for the better confirmation of the faith, and the better information of the church, with regard to the interpretation of prophecies not
This is a work which I find deficient. But," adds he, “it should either be undertaken with wisdom, sobriety, and reverence, or not at all."
Art. III. - A Sermon preached before the Ancient and
Honorable Artillery Company, on their CXCVIth Anniversary, June 2d, 1834. By the Rev. F. H. HEDGE. Boston. J. H. Eastburn. 1834. 8vo. pp. 30.
The man, who is called upon to officiate upon any of our anniversary celebrations, whether religious or secular, is
* Bacon's Works, Vol. VI. “ De Augmentis Scientiarum.” VOL. XVII. N. S. VOL. XII. NO. II.