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of its mild and beneficent spirit was confined to his own breast: we cannot understand the full power of its application, without associating it with that perfection of knowledge of the genius and spirit of the Gospel doctrines, which dawned upon the world, when the Spirit was poured out from on high; and with that extension of the kingdom of the Redeemer, of which every day gives more convincing evidence, and which, the word of Prophecy assures us, will be universal.
THE MANNER IN WHICH OUR LORD
INTERPRETED AND APPLIED THE TYPES AND PROPHECIES OF THE OLD
If we consider the religious opinions of the Jewish people at the time of our Saviour's coming, they appear to have had no clear ideas with regard to the true meaning of the prophecies relating to the promised Messiah. That they had general ideas respecting them, is certain: and is evident from the answer, which was returned by the Scribes and Pharisees to Herod, with regard to the place of the Messiah's birth'; from the inquiry which the disciples addressed to our Lord with respect to the appearance of Elias before the coming of the promised Messiah; and from other incidental circumstances mentioned in the Gospels. But that they had no correct views on this subject, appears to be evident, from the mistakes which they had formed with respect to the promised Redeemer and the character of his kingdom: and that even the chosen disciples were not exempt from the common error on this subject, is evident from the question which they addressed to our Lord immediately before his ascen
1 Matth. ii. 5, 6.
2 Ibid. xvii. 10.
sion into heaven, with respect to the restoration of the kingdom of Israel3,-a delusion, which was so strongly fixed in their minds; and which neither his death, nor his resurrection, nor the revelations which he had made to them, with respect to these subjects, after his resurrection from the dead, had been able entirely to dispel'. Indeed our Lord himself does not appear to have vouchsafed to them any full and explicit revelations with reference to these subjects before his death. Their minds, which had shewn so much reluctance to listen to any intimation of a suffering Messiah, and so little idea of the spiritual character of his kingdom, would have shewn an equal reluctance to listen to any interpretation of the prophecies, which so entirely contradicted their own preconceived expectations and views. But, in his discourses immediately before his death, he gradually opened these things to his disciples, as they were able to bear them; and in his appearance to the eleven Apostles after his resurrection, he told them that they beheld the fulfilment of those things, which were written in the Law of Moses, and in the Prophets, and in the Psalms concerning him; he opened their understandings that they might understand the Scriptures; and said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day; and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem: and the same
3 Acts i. 6.
4 Luke xxiv. 44-47. Acts i. 3.
things probably formed the chief subject of his conversations with his disciples, during the period which elapsed between his resurrection and his ascension into heaven; in which he shewed himself to them alive by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God. This prepared them for that full revelation of the wonders and mysteries of Redemption, which was vouchsafed to them, when they were enlightened by the Holy Spirit from on high: by which they were enabled, in their public addresses to the people, in the recorded histories of our Saviour's life, and in the Epistles to the different churches,to point out with accuracy, and to explain with the greatest clearness, the meaning and intention of those types and prophecies, the shadows of good things to come; of which, though they were, in the first instance, instituted to serve a temporal purpose, the great end and object was the Redeemer and his everlasting kingdom.
These considerations serve fully to develope the reasons, why our Lord, in these, as well as in other subjects connected with his religion, used a certain degree of reserve towards his disciples during the period of his ministry upon earth ; and will, at the same time, teach us, how,-in comparing the obscure, though comprehensive, declarations of our Saviour on these subjects with the more full and copious revelations which were vouchsafed by Him to his Apostles, after they were enlightened by the Holy Spirit from on
high,— -we may derive an additional argument in support of his divine character.
1. The first direct allusion, which appears to have been made by our Lord to the types of the Old Testament, is found in his discourse with Nicodemus, which is recorded in the third chapter of St John's Gospel; which we have before alluded to as containing some of the earliest intimations of his own divine origin and of his death for the salvation of the world. In this discourse, in connection with the subject of his own death, he makes express allusion to the lifting up of the Serpent in the wilderness: As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life'. Now although we may possibly conjecture, from the allusion which is made to this subject in the Book of Wisdom2, that the Jews might have an idea, that some typical meaning was comprehended in this remarkable and miraculous transaction; yet there is no proof that they traced any connection between it and the peculiar character of our Saviour's death, which is here and in two subsequent passages so expressly asserted by our Lord himself: and the exposition, which is here given, of the typical character of the original transaction, must be considered as partaking of the nature of
1 John iii. 14, 15. Numbers xxi. 9.
2 Wisdom xvi. 5.
See Patrick on Numbers xxi. 9.
3 John viii. 28. xii. 32.