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WORD; “ who was in the beginning; who was with God, and was God; and by whom the worlds were made!.” He it was, who appeared to our first parents in Paradise, and gave to them that blessed prophecy—the first dawn of hope and consolation to fallen man of “the seed of the woman, who should break the head of the serpent”;” who appeared to Abraham on so many interesting occasions, and gave to him and confirmed to him with an oath the promise, that “in his seed all the nations of the earth should be blessed”;” who appeared to Isaac* ; and manifested himself to Jacob"; and from whom,
“ the Angel who redeemed him from all evil,” he implored a blessing on Ephraim and Manasseh ; who appeared to Moses in the bush under the incommunicable name of “ the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob," and under those same attributes which were afterwards assumed by the Redeemer himself to express his own eternity”; who was manifested to the Israelites on Mount Sinai, and led them through the wilderness, in the pillar of a cloud and of fire, to the promised land® ; and who, finally, appeared on other occasions of interest and importance to his chosen servants".
1 John i. 1, 2. 2 Gen. iii. 16.
3 Compare Gen. xvii. 1-9; xviii. 1, 17—23, &c.; xxii. 11–18; and Bp Kidder's notes on Gen. xvi. 7; Exod. xxiii. 20. Compare also what Bp Patrick says on these passages, and parti. cularly on Exod. xxiii. 20.
4 Gen. vi. 2, 24.
? Exod. iii. 2, 6, 13–15; Acts vii. 30_32; John viii. 58.
8 Acts vii, 38; Hebr. xii. 24-26; Isai, lxiii, 9; 1 Cor. x. 9; Exod. xiii.
21; xiv. 19; xxxiii. 13. See W. Lowth on Isai. Lxiii. 9.
9 Joshua i. 1; v. 13–15; Judges vi. 11-24; xiii. 18; and compare Bp Patrick's notes on these passages : where he maintains, in opposition to his former opinion, that the Person, who appeared on these occasions, was “ the LORD himself; that is, the WORD of the LORD: who was to be the Messiah ; unto whom the Prophet Isaiah gives the name of Pele, the Wonderful, Isai. ix. 6.” Patrick on Judg. xiii. 18. See also W. Lowth on Isai. ix. 6.
But when the light of prophecy began to shine with greater clearness; and those prophets appeared, who were especially commissioned by the Most High to announce the glad tidings of the promised redemption to his chosen people, the great Redeemer himself appears upon the scene, not only as the great subject of prophecy, but as the sender and inspirer of those prophets who were commanded to announce his coming! When the evangelical prophet was commissioned with his message to the rebellious people of Israel, and was admitted to the vision of “ the Lord sitting upon his throne,” amidst the adoration of the heavenly hosts,—“ Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Hosts, heaven and earth are full of thy glory 10,"—Who is it that was the great Agent in this mysterious scene? Who but the great Redeemer, who has himself testified that, in this mysterious vision, the “ prophet saw his glory and spake of him 11 !”
In like manner, when the prophet Ezekiel was sent to the captivity of the house of Israel, in that sublime and mysterious vision which is recorded in the beginning of his prophecy, he describes himself as having seen 66 above the firmament that was above the heads of the cherubims, the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire throne; and upon the likeness of the throne the likeness of the appearance of a man above upon ita.” In which vision, as is remarked by an excellent commentator, “ the form and shape of a man is directly represented to Ezekiel, as a præludium or figure of the Incarnation 13.” And the same mysterious vision,
10 Isai. vi. 1-3.
12 Ezek. i. 26-28.
accompanied by the same mysterious distinctions, was vouchsafed on another occasion to the same prophet?!
In like manner also, when the same Divine Person appeared to the prophet Daniel, the prophet describes himself as “ lifting up his eyes, and looking, and behold a certain man clothed in linen, whose loins were girded with fine gold of Uphaz; his body also was like the beryl, and his face as the appearance of lightning, and his eyes as lamps of fire, and his arms and his feet like in colour unto polished brass, and the voice of his words like the voice of a multitudea.” On this occasion, and on another occasion towards the close of the prophecy, did the same Divine Person appear, inspiring and directing the prophet, and comforting him with regard to the final glorious issue of the mysterious dispensations of God?!
But not only does this Divine Person appear upon the scene as the great sender and inspirer of his servants the prophets, and as carrying into effect his mysterious and wonderful predictions; but he sometimes vouchsafes clearer intimations of his incarnation, when he describes himself as “sending his messenger to prepare his way before him",” and as the Person who should be “pierced” for their sins ! Indeed, what a sublime and interesting view does it give us of the great mystery of our redemption, when we behold that Divine Person, who was made flesh for our sakes and suffered death upon the cross for our salvation, appearing in his pre-existent state, as the great Agent of this mysterious scheme,as inspiring his prophets, and overruling by his almighty
1 Ezek. x. I.
4 Mal. iii. 1.
power that wonderful course of events, which was destined to bring in the Redeemer and his everlasting kingdom.
2. Another point, which is necessary to be considered, relates to the peculiar characteristics of ancient prophecy.
(1) Some of the prophecies of the Old Testament point out with the greatest clearness and distinctness the most important subjects connected with the Christian dispensation. But, with regard to a considerable proportion of the prophecies of the Old Testament, they are clothed in language which is highly figurative and sublime; describing passing and future events, relating to God's peculiar people and the enemies of his Church, in terms-which, though they are in some degree applicable to these objects, evidently look to some higher fulfilment, in events which will be accomplished in some future stage of the divine dispensations.
Such a system of prophecy,—as it naturally arose out of the peculiar character of the former dispensation, which was only typical of that more perfect and spiritual dispensation which was to follow it,was peculiarly adapted to the condition and prospects of the people who lived under that dispensation; and was eminently calculated to perform the office for which it was especially designed by the Almighty,—which was to support faith rather than to gratify curiosity.
This double sense of prophecy', as it is called, runs through the principal part of the ancient prophecies: and, in the certainty of its application, derives a peculiar confirmation from our Redeemer himself;—who, in the prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem, which is contained in the twenty-fourth chapter of St Matthew's gospel, has described this awful event in terms, which,—though they have a plain and obvious reference to that great and stupendous event, which was the immediate subject of the prophecy,—are applicable only, in their full extent, to that more awful destruction of which it was the type; and which, we are led to believe in other parts of Scripture, will accompany the final dissolution of all things'.
6 With regard to these prophecies, Sermon xxii. pp. 379—381; and parsee Bp Hurd, Lectures on Prophecy, ticularly Bp Warburton, Divine Lega. Sermon III; Craven On the Jewish tion, Book vi. sect. 6; and Mr W. and Christian Dispensations, chap. xi; Lowth's Preface to Isaiah. Bp Van Mildert's Boyle's Lectures,
It is manifest that, although such a system of prophecy was peculiarly adapted to the Jewish dispensation, it is not equally adapted to the objects of prophecy under the Christian dispensation; which, having no succeeding dispensation in view, must necessarily be for the most part directed obscurely, it is true, considered with reference to the most distant events in the Christian Church, yet—immediately and directly to those great and important events, which are connected with the destinies of the Redeemer's kingdom until the great consummation of all things. But a due consideration of the spiritual character of these prophecies will often lead us to a more just view of the character of the prophecies of the New Testament, whose real scope and object have been greatly mistaken for want of sufficiently attending to these considerations. The writings of the ancient prophets are so full of this
1 The impossibility of separating in a more convincing manner than by the two great events, which are the considering the unsuccessful attempts subject of this prophecy, and of as- of Bishop Horsley to this effect. See signing to each its own particular por- Horsley's Sermons, Sermons II. III. tion in the prediction, cannot be shewn