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النشر الإلكتروني

Letter XVII.

CRUCIFIXION OF CHRIST.

Dear Benjamin,

We will now consider the evidence of the Messiahship of Jesus, arising from the predictions fulfilled at his crucifixion. The death of Christ is an event most singular, as well as most important. We have already seen, from the Scriptures of the Old Testament, that the Messiah was to die a peculiar death, the death of an expiatory sacrifice; and that Jesus Christ died such a death. We shall now point out the predictions which relate to the peculiar circumstances of the sufferings, death and burial of the Messiah, and their fulfillment in Jesus Christ our Savior.

§ 1. That he was to suffer from the multitude, was particularly foretold by the royal Psalmist, and the princely prophet Isaiah. By the former the Messiah is introduced saying, "I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people. All they that see me, laugh me to scorn; they shoot out the lip; they shake the head, saying, he trusted on the Lord that he would deliver him; let him deliver him. Many bulls have compassed me; strong bulls of Bashan have beset me round. They gaped upon me with their mouths, as a ravening and a roaring lion. For dogs have compassed me; the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me." Psalm, 22: 6-8, 12, 13, 16. Isaiah having foretold the wonderful success the Gospel would have amongst the Gentiles, bitterly complains of the unbelief of our nation, and mentions the cause of their conduct, saying, "Who has believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed? For he shall grow up before

him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he has no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men ; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not." ch. 53: 1-3. Now all this has been literally fulfilled in Jesus Christ. During the whole of his public ministry he was slighted and disesteemed on account of his mean parentage and education, his outward poverty, and the meanness of his disciples and followers; and when hanging on the cross, "bearing our sin in his own body on the tree," the mob mocked him in the very words mentioned by the Psalmist.

2. The soldiers' conduct was not more cruel than agreeable to prophecy. The judge of Israel was to be smitten with a rod upon the cheek. Mica, 5: 1. The declaration of the Messiah by the prophet, Jesus fulfilled, viz. “The Lord God has opened mine ear, and I was not rebellious, neither turned away my tack. I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair; I hid not my face from shame and spittings." Isa. 50: 5, 6.

3. The conduct of Messiah's professed friends, during his sufferings, as well as that of his enemies, was predicted by the prophets, and fulfilled in Jesus Christ. 1. By one of his disciples he was to be betrayed, and sold into the hands of his enemies. Of this treachery the Lord Jesus informed his disciples beforehand, to confirm them in their faith of the Messiahship. "I speak not of you all; I know whom I have chosen; but that the Scripture may be fulfilled, he that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me. Now I tell you before it come, that, when it is come to pass, ye may believe that I am he." John, 13: 18, 19. This prediction is evidently taken from Ps. 41: 9. Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, has lifted up his heel against me." I am aware, my dear Benjamin, that it has been objected that this Psalm is

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inapplicable to the Messiah, because it is said in the 4th verse, "Lord, be merciful unto me, and heal my soul; for I have sinned against thee." But it may be answered, that in many cases two original Psalms have been joined into one; and it is more than probable that verse the 5th commenced a new Psalm. Beside, it may well be considered as the language of the Messiah, expressing his confidence in his Father's promise, to uphold him in his sufferings and death and to raise him again from the dead, because he had, in obedience to his will, died as a sin-offering; for the last clause of the verse, "Ki chatathi lach," may be read thus: "For I have made an atonement for sin unto thee." For you well know, my brother, that the word chata frequently, especially in Piail, signifies to expiate, atone, or make an offering for sin. See Lev. 5: 7, 11; 6: 26; 9:15. Ex. 29: 36. Ps. 51: 7. Hence the noun chattath is frequently used for a sin-offering. See Exod. 29: 14. Lev. 4:3; 8: 21, 24; 29: 33, 34, particularly Isa. 53: 10. Hence Jesus is said to be made sin for us, i. e. a sin-offering. 2 Cor. 5: 21. Now, that Jesus was betrayed by Judas, one of his disciples, is not only mentioned by the evangelists, but also in the history of our Lord compiled by the Jews, called Toldoth Yeshu, p. 15: 10.

§ 4. The conduct of this disciple was more clearly described by the prophet Zechariah, 11: 12, 13. "And I said unto them, if ye think good, give me my price; and if not, forbear. So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver. And the Lord said unto me, cast it unto the potter; a goodly price that I was prized at of them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them to the pot ter in the house of the Lord." Now this prediction was literally fulfilled with respect to Jesus. For Judas having agreed with the chief priests to deliver Jesus into their hands for thirty pieces of silver, and having fulfilled his engagement, he received his wages. But his conscience afterward accusing him, he returned them the money, acknow

ledging his guilt; but they not judging it lawful to put the money into the treasury, because it was the price of blood, bought the potter's field with it, as a burying-place for strangers. See Matt. 27: 3-10.

5. Another prediction, fulfilled during the sufferings of Messiah Jesus, relates to the conduct of his disciples. He was not only to be mocked by the multitude, and betrayed and sold by one of his disciples, but all the rest were to forsake him at that time. This was foretold by the prophet Zech. 137. "Awake, O sword, against my Shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the Lord of Hosts, smite the Shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered." Many of our Rabbins refer this prediction to the days of the Messiah, yea, to the Messiah himself. See Aben Ezra and Michlol Yophi in loco. And in that awful but all-memorable night in which Jesus was betrayed, he told his disciples that in that very night they would all forsake him, reminding them of this prediction, and it was verified by their conduct. Matt. 26: 31, 56.

§ 6. We next consider the predictions which relate to the sufferings which Messiah was to endure from the hands of his own Father. I acknowledge, my dear Benjamin, that there is something inexpressibly awful and deeply mysterious in the idea that the Father should put his best beloved Son to any sufferings or pain; yet it was nevertheless foretold, and literally fulfilled in the immaculate Jesus, of whom the Father testified again and again, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." The royal Psalmist introduced the Messiah saying, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" Ps. 22: 1. The prophet Isaiah not only declared repeatedly "that the Lord laid upon him our iniquities," i. e. dealt with him as we sinners deserved to be dealt with, but expressly declared, "It pleased the Lord to bruise him; he has put him to grief." Isa. 53: 10. And Zechariah introduces Jehovah as giving the awful commission, "Awake, O sword, against my Shepherd, and

against the man that is my fellow, saith the Lord of Hosts; smite the Shepherd," &c. Zech. 13:7. That these predictions had a reference to the Messiah, is acknowledged by our ancient Rabbins, as we have shown already; and that they have been literally fulfilled in Jesus Christ, is abundantly evident from the history of his sufferings related by the evangelists who were eye witnesses. John, the beloved disciple, stood beneath the cross when Jesus exclaimed, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" Peter, James, and John witnessed his agonies in the garden of Gethsemane, where the Son of God lay prostrated on the ground, "like a worm, and no man," groaning, sighing, weeping, praying, and being in an agony, sweating as it were great drops of blood, and exclaiming, "My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death!" Here another prediction was fulfilled, which says, "when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin," or, according to the original, "when his soul shall make an offering for sin." These sufferings may well be styled the soul of all his other sufferings. As they infinitely exceeded in degree, so likewise in the motive and design of the immediate agent. Whatever were the motives of our people that falsely accused him, of the judge that unjustly condemned him, of the soldiers that cruelly treated him, of his disciples, that either treacherously betrayed him, or unfaithfully denied him, or timorously forsook him; yet we are sure, from the unerring word of God, (as has been shown in the letter on the covenant between the Father and Son) that the motive and design, both of the agent and the patient, in all these mysterious transactions, was, as declared by the multitude of the heavenly host, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good-will to ward men." Luke, 2: 13, 14. And O, my beloved Benjamin, my heart leaps for joy at the prospect of the time when the spirit of grace and supplication shall be poured upon our dear people, and they shall look unto him whom they have pierced; then will they adopt the language recorded in this

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