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23. Luke vi. 1.
Mark ix. 14.
the prediction of an approaching ravage by locusts is foretold, in the same words, a From Matth. succeeding desolation by the Assyrian army. Should any believer therefore insist, as xii. 1. Mark ii. the unbeliever Mr Collins did, that the famous prophecy of Isaiah (a)" Unto us a John v. 1. to child is born, &c." was literally and directly intended of some Jewish monarch, and that Matth. xvii. 14. nothing but our ignorance of the eastern hyperbolical style prevents us from perceiving Luke ix. 37. this, I might perhaps agree with him as soon as he should produce a Jewish monarch John vii. 1. born in the days of Isaiah, to whom any part of it is literally applicable. But I should still contend that the same monarch was viewed by the prophet as a type or figure of the future Messiah, to whom alone could be given with any kind of propriety the name of "Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace; and I should do so chiefly because the ancient Jews, who considered it as applicable in an inferior sense to Hezekiah, were unanimously of opinion that the prophet's views extended to the reign of their expected Messiah, of whom Hezekiah was but a type or figure ‡.]
Upon the whole, therefore, we may conclude, that every Jew, converted to the Christian faith, is an implicit proof, that the apostles allegations of the ancient prophecies, both as to the ground and sense of them, were agreeable to their received notions of them; insomuch that, were we at leisure to enter into particulars, we might shew, that it is hardly possible to name one single prediction of the many applied to the Blessed Jesus, which one or other of their most celebrated writers do not acknowledge to belong to the Messiah.
The modern Jews, it must be owned, have fallen off from the notions of their more ingenuous ancestors, and do deny the prophecies quoted in the New Testament those views that we would ascribe to them: (b) But whoever considers the destruction of their city and polity, which confounded all their expectations of a glorious Messiah, and put them upon new measures in the application of such predictions as they saw must needs have been fulfilled while their state and temple stood: Whoever considers the darkness and ignorance that would necessarily ensue upon their long dispersion, and many sad calamities, when they fell into the hands of persecuting powers, who hated them and their religion most implacably: Whoever considers their neglect of applying themselves to the study of the written law, and attending wholly to their oral, and affecting to be curious in ceremonies, while they continued careless of their doctrines : Whoever considers their violent prejudice against Jesus and his disciples, which, as it stuck at nothing, though never so false or wicked, to oppose them, might easily put them upon tampering with the Scriptures, and, by interpolations or defalcations, labouring to make them look another way: And, lastly, whoever considers that judicial blindness and hardness of heart, so often and expressly threatened, and so visibly and lamentably afflicted upon this once elect people of God: (May he, in his infinite mercy, so open their eyes, that they may see the wonderous things of the law, and its agreement with the Gospel!) Whoever considers these things, I say, will not be at a loss for reasons why the present synagogue have departed from the sentiments of the ancient, and are so earnest to apply to David, Solomon, Hezekiah, Zerubbabel, or any other person of note, what their ancestors never thought of attributing to any other than the promised Messiah,
(c) One of their famous interpreters, in his comment upon the xxiid Psalm, after some feeble efforts to wrest that evidence out of our hands, makes at length this ample confession, “Our great masters, (d) says he, have interpreted this Psalm of Messiah the King, but I shall interpret it of David himself, that we may have wherewith to answer the heretics."
(a) Chap. ix. 6-8.
See the doctrine of types, and of a primary and secondary sense of some prophecies, illustrated in a very superior manner by Bishop Warburton in the sixth
book of Divine Legation of Moses.
(b) Stanhope's Sermons at Boyle's Lectures.
A. M. 4035, But, with all his art and subtilty, he can never make it out, how David, with any propriety, can say of himself, (a) " As for me, I am a worm, and no man, the very scorn of men, and the outcast of the people." The greatest affliction that ever befel that prince was his exVulg. Ær. 29. pulsion from his capital city, upon the rebellion of his son Absalom; and (b) Shimei's cur
&c. or 5440. Ann. Dom. 31, &c.
sing and upbraiding him may seem perhaps to countenance this complaint, (c) “ All they that see me, laugh me to scorn, they shoot out their lips, and shake their heads;" but we nowhere read in his history, that his enemies ever (d)" pierced his hands or his feet," much less that, after they had made an end of him," they parted his garments among them, and cast lots upon his vesture." It was our Blessed Saviour alone in whom this prediction was verified; of him alone, that his enemies took up the taunting proverb, and said, (e) " He trusted in God that he would deliver him, let him deliver him, if he would have him;" to him alone, that these words can, with any tolerable construction, belong, (ƒ) "Many oxen are come about me, fat bulls of Basan close me in on every side; they gape upon me with their mouths, as it were a ramping and roaring lion;" as he indeed appropriates the whole Psalm to himself, when, in his dying minutes, he utters this citation, (g)" My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?"
David indeed, in all his troubles, had no occasion to make this lamentation; for though the malice and persecutions of Saul were upon him, yet he had always abundant reason to say of God, (h) “ Thou art my stony rock, and my defence, my Saviour, my God, and my might; my buckler, the horn also of my salvation, and my refuge: Therefore will I follow upon mine enemies, and overtake them; neither will I turn again till I have destroyed them." His splendour and greatness; his victories and conquests, the reduction of his foes, and the enlargement of his kingdom, made him a proper emblem of our Saviour's exaltation and triumph over our spiritual enemies; but there are few passages in his life which resemble his sufferings, and none at all that will justify this complaint, (i) "I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue cleaveth to my gums:" So true is that observation of Grotius, (k) "That partiality was the cause of these new explications among the Jews, and that those, which they formerly received, agreed very well with the sense of Christians."
Upon the decree of Cyrus for the restoration of the Jews, we find Zerubbabel, among other princes of the people, superintending matters, and taking upon him the government of the tribe to which he belonged; but that he should be the person intended by Micah's prophecy is a thing impossible, because he was not born in Bethlehem, which is the place assigned for the birth of the ruler that the prophet mentions, but in Babylon, as his name imports. That it was essentially necessary for the Messiah to be born in (1) Bethlehem, and no where else, is plain from the answer which the scribes and Pharisees make Herod upon his consulting them, and their quotation of Micah for the proof of it; is plain from the general notion, which not only the learned, but the vulgar, at that time had imbibed, viz. (m) "That Christ was to come of the seed of David, and out of the town of Bethlehem, where David was born;" and is plain from the petition in their liturgy, wherein they still pray for the advent of the Messiah in these terms: (n) "Shake thyself from the dust, arise, put on thy beautiful garments, O my people! by the hand of Ben-jesse, the Bethlehemite, bring redemption near to my soul:" So that the prophecy, in all reason, must be applied to the person that was born there, and not to one whose place of nativity was in a distant country. It is to be observed farther, that Zerubbabel was never any ruler of Israel; for though he might
(a) Psal. xxii. 6.
(b) 2 Sam. xvi. 7, 8.
(c) Psal. xxii. 7. (f) Ibid. ver. 12, 13.
(d) Ibid. ver(g) Ibid. ver. 1. (k) Grotius, de Verit. lib. v. sect. xviii. (n) See Bishop Chandler's Defence
23. Luke vi. 1.
lark ix. 14.
be at the head of the captivity for some years, yet it was without the title and autho- From Matth. rity of a governor, and when he had executed his commission, he returned to Babylon, xii. 1. Mark ii. and there died. But even supposing he were never so much a governor, it is certainly John v. 1. to carrying the matter too far to say of him, that he (a)" should stand and rule in the Matth xvii. 14. strength of the Lord, and in the majesty of the Lord his God;" much more it is so to Luke is 37. say, that the going forth, or birth of this Ruler, was of old, and from the days of eter- John vii. 1. nity, (as the marginal note has it), which is only applicable to the Messiah, and in a proper sense only verified in our Blessed Saviour, (b) who in the beginning was with God."
And, in like manner, if we consider the words of the prophet Isaiah in the liiid chapter, and compare them with our Lord's history, as the evangelists have recorded it, we shall soon perceive that they are applicable to none but our Blessed Saviour only, for (to wave other arguments that might be drawn from them) with what propriety of construction can any of these passages, (c)" He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities, the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and by his stripes we are healed,” be applied to the Jewish nation? Whenever did we hear that the Jews" bore the griefs and carried the sorrows" of others; that they were wounded for other mens transgressions, and bruised for iniquities not their own? The public calamities which God at any time sent upon them, are, by all the prophets, imputed to their own sins; but the person here afflicted is said to have done "no violence, neither was any deceit found in his mouth;" and does this character suit them under any captivity, or other sort of calamity that the prophet might have in view? If we will believe him, it is plain that he had another opinion of them, when, in the very beginning of his prophecy, we find him lamenting them and their captivity in these words: (d)" Ah, sinful nation! A people laden with iniquity, a seed of evil doers, children that are corrupters; they have forsaken the Lord, they are gone backwards; wherefore your country is desolate, your cities are burnt with fire, your land strangers devour it in your presence, and it is desolate as overthrown by strangers."
The sum of our answer is this. If our Saviour and his apostles cannot be supposed, with any justness of reasoning or prospect of success, to allege prophecies concerning the Messiah, which the Jewish church at that time did not acknowledge to be intended of him; if all the prophecies, thus alleged, do even yet appear, by several of their most renowned doctors, to be interpreted or the Messiah; if the xxiid Psalm cannot, with any propriety of construction, be applied to David; nor the ivth chapter of Micah to Zerubbabel; nor the liiid of Isaiah to the Jewish nation in general; and if good reasons may be assigned why the present and ancient doctors of the Jewish church do differ in the manner of applying the predictions of the prophets ;-then is the Christian interpretation of them, which appears to be plain and natural, and has antiquity on its side, not to be less esteemed, because some, out of partiality and prejudice, have forced their wits to invent another.
Nay, even supposing that there were more grounds than what hitherto have appeared to dispute the justness of the allegation of any prophecy, yet still we Christians must aver, that the application of Christ and his apostles is to be preferred before that of any other, because it was attended with such irresistible proof of its truth and fidelity, as must overbear all objections to the contrary. (e) For, upon a dispute of the application of some passage, or a competition of two different senses of the same passage, can any thing in nature be more decisive than the testimony of God? And can the testimony of God appear by any stronger evidence than by the power of miracles, supporting the allegation? God certainly knew the intention of every prophecy deli
(c) Isaiah liii. 4, 5.
(d) Ibia. i. 4, &c.
(b) John i. 2.
(a) Micah v. 4. (e) Rogers's Necessity of Revelation, VOL. III.
A. M. 4035, vered by his Spirit; and therefore if Christ and his apostles, when they applied any &c. or 5440. 5440. prophecy to the Messiah, gave the best proof that could be given of their being sent by God, and of their speaking and acting by his commission, God himself must be unVulg. Ær. 29. derstood as confirming their application. The authority of the application, or of the exposition, must, in such a case, be equal to that of the prophecy; for there cannot be a better proof that the prophet was sent from God than the expositor gives of his mission; and the reason for his assenting to the one, as well as the other, is on both sides the same.
The result of this whole enquiry is this,-That since our Blessed Saviour appeals to the writings of the prophets for the proof of his being the Messiah, or Messenger sent from God to deliver his will to mankind; and since the marks and characters which the prophets give of the Messiah are found all to agree and unite in him, according to the account which the evangelists give us of his life, we have all the reason in the world to believe that he was really the person he pretended to be, that his doctrine, consequently, is the Word of God, and his religion (a) "The grace of God that bringeth salvation, and hath appeared unto all men; teaching us, that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the Great God and our Sa、 viour JESUS CHRIST."
FROM OUR LORD'S TRANSFIGURATION TO HIS LAST
ENTRY INTO JERUSALEM.
&c. or 544].
A. M. 4035, THE day following our Lord's transfiguration (for that transaction was very probably in the night-time +), as he came down from the Mount, he perceived the scribes in deep debate + with the apostles he had left behind him; and while he was enquiring into the
Vulg. Er. 30.
(a) Tit. ii. 11, &c.
The evangelist acquaints us, that while our Saviour was at prayer on the Mount, St "Peter, and they that were with him, were heavy with sleep," Luke ix. 32. which in some measure confirms the conjecture, that the transfiguration was in the night; a time much more proper for the display of the lustre of such an appearance than if it had happened in the broad day-light. Calmet's Commentary.
+ What the subject-matter of this debate was, the
evangelists have not informed us; but it seems not unlikely, that the scribes were disputing with the apostles about their master's method of ejecting devils, and the power which, in that matter, he had conferred upon them; because, in the case before them, they saw them nonplussed, and not able to cast a devil out of one, who, in his absence, was brought to them. This is the rather probable, not only because our Saviour's dispossessing devils was what gravelled and vexed the scribes and Pharisees more than all
xii. 1. Mark ii.
Mark ix. 14.
subject of their dispute, a certain man, breaking through the crowd, came, and fell pro- From Matth. strate at his feet, and besought him to have pity upon his only son, a deplorable object, 3. Luke 1. a lunatic || and possessed, deaf and dumb, often thrown upon the ground, and into the John v. 1. to fire and water, racked with violent convulsions, accompanied with dismal outcries, foam- Matth. xvii. 14. ings, bruises, and torments, and every way in so desperate a condition, that his disciples, Cuke ix. 37. in his absence, were not able to cure him. Our Lord, upon hearing of this, was not John vii. 1. a little grieved at the want of faith in his disciples, but ordered the child to be brought to him. As he was drawing near, the devil began to rack him with convulsions, which put the father in a terrible fright; and when our Lord commanded the evil spirit to depart out of the young man, and never to molest him more, after some hideous outcries, he tore and distorted him to such a degree, that he left him breathless on the ground, so that many concluded he was quite dead: But Jesus, taking him by the hand, lifted him up, and delivered him to his father perfectly cured, to the great astonishment of all the spectators. And when his disciples in private desired to know the reason why they could not cast out this spirit, he imputed it partly to their want of faith, and partly to this spirit's being of a kind † which was not to be ejected without fasting and prayer.
his other miracles, and forced them to the sorry refuge of" He casteth out devils by Beelzebub, the prince of devils;" but because, upon his coming to the timely relief of his apostles, and demanding of the scribes, what they were questioning and disputing about, it immediately follows, " One of the multitude answered and said, Master, I have brought unto thee my son, which hath dumb spirit:And I spake to thy disciples, that they should cast him out, and they could not," Mark ix. 17, 18. Pool's Annotations.
to be intended for the whole company, and every one
|| The word σεληνιάζεται, coming from σελήνη, the moon, answers exactly to the English lunatic, from luna; but there is a mistake in rendering it: For, whereas the English word lunatic is commonly taken for a madman, such a one especially whose distemper grows worse towards the full of the moon, it is plain, from all symptoms, such as being convulsed, foaming at the mouth, grinding his teeth, falling into the fire, and bruising and tearing himself, &c. that the disorder under which this person laboured was an epilepsis, or the falling sickness. Now the reason why this disease is expressed by the word rλnasta, is, because the moon has the same influence on it that it has in madness. Both distempers lie in the brain, and the changes of the moon affect those that are subject to the one as well as the other. When therefore the evangelists tell us of this epileptic, that the devil took him, that he threw him down, cast him into a fit, and made him tear and bruise himself, the meaning of all this is, that as, in those days, it was a common thing for the devil to have power over mens bodies, which power he employed in bringing diseases upon them, to it was in the present case. The devil that possessed this young man, cast him into frequent fits of the falling sickness (as all demoniacs, we find, have one distemper or other attending them), of which there was no way to cure him but by casting out the devil. Hammond's Annotations.
†The rebuke which our Saviour utters upon this occasion, "O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you?" &c. Matth. xvii. 17. seems
+Josephus, who himself was a Pharisee, and well acquainted with the notions of every sect among the Jews, gives it for a current opinion, that the demons, in his and some preceding ages, were nothing else but the souls of wicked men, who after death took possession of the living, and were continually either afflicting and tormenting, or exciting and soliciting them to such sins, as they found were agreeable and complexional to them; and that, according to their different ways of vexing or tempting those that they possessed, they had different appellations given them, an unclean spirit, a deaf and dumb spirit, a spirit of infirmity, &c. In conformity to this notion perhaps it is, that our Saviour here takes notice of the different kinds of evil spirits, and as among wicked men there are different degrees of impiety, and some are more hardened and profligate than others; so he seems to intimate, that some of these spirits are more desperate and malicious than others, Matth. xii. 45. But all of them obstinate enough, and (might they have their own option) unwilling to leave the bodies they have taken possession of. Here they think them selves safe, and in some ineasure screened from the Divine vengeance; and therefore, we find them at sometimes crying to our Lord, "Let us alone; what have we to do with thee? Art thou come to torment us," Matth. viii. 29. And as others, when commanded to depart, tearing and torturing the possessed, and quitting their habitation not without much reluctancy, Mark ix. 26. The apostles, no doubt, had conjured this evil spirit before in their master's name,