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peated by the Angel to Zacharias, and applied to John the Baptist. In him, therefore, we assert they are completed, and in him we perceive that peculiar character which is described by Isaiah, and still more clearly by the later predictions of Malachi.
But an apparent objection arises 'in limine;' the express words of the prophecies are, "I will send unto you Elijah the prophet," and their literal meaning contradicts our assertion. The weight of this difficulty, however, vanishes before two considerations :—in the first place, nothing is more usual than to designate persons by the name of those, to whom they bear a striking resemblance in situation or character1; and secondly, this idiom is frequently employed by the sacred prophetic writers2, and that, too, in passages, which neither admit, nor have suffered a different construction.
But it appears from Josephus, that the Pharisees had embraced the philosophical doctrine of Metempsychosis, and believed that the soul was removed from one body into another in infinite succession5. This opinion was generally, received by the people4; and to its prevalence we must ascribe their misinterpretation of the predictions of Malachi. It is evident, however, from Jewish
"'H yap Ttji iro\iTeias <rvyyeveta Kat Tqv Koivwviav Twv ovopaTwv voteT."—Chrysost. Op. Tom. iii. So in Virgil.
Alter erit turn Tiphys, et altera quae vehat Argo
Delectos heroas: erunt etiam altera bella,
Atque iterum ad Trojam magnus mittetur Achilles.—
Eel. iv. 34,
* Fr. Spanheim enumerates many instances. Evangel, yindiciae. Lib. 3. Loc. vii. Oper. Tom. iii. p. 471.
3 " ^"OP^* irao-av niv oHpdapTov, ueTafiaireiv Se eU eTepov <rwna Ttjv Twv dyaduiv flovr\v, Ttjv ie Tioi/ (pav\wv di&iu Tinapta
Ko\aXe<r6a," De Bell. Jud. lib. ii. c. 8. §.14.
"adava-rov Te i<ryyv TaTi \^tr£ai"s mVTn avToti ei'vui, Ka\ vVd ypoiHK otKaiaxreti Te Koa Tijuas oh dpeTiji if KaKias eiriTtjiev<ri i iv T«f> /3lw yeyove- Ka\ Ta7s piv elpypov dthov irpo<rTide<rdou, Tati Je pattTwvtjv Tov dvafiiovv." Alitiq. Jud. lib. xviii. C. 1. §. S. &c.
4 We find this notion alluded to in numerous passages of Scripture, and of the Jewish writings. The author of the Book of Wisdom says "That, being good, he came into a body undefiled*." So also in the Gospel of St. John, when the disciples saw a man who had been blind from his birth, they asked our Saviour, whether it were the sins of this man in a prior state of existence, which had brought upon him this punishment+. Hence too the conjectures of the Jews respecting Jesus; some supposed the soul of Elias animated him,—others, that it was the soul of Jeremiah,—others, that of John the Baptist, and others said, "One of the old prophets is risen again j."—See Just. Lips. Physiol. Stoic.
lib. iii. Diss. XII Vossius de Orig. et Progr. Fdol.it. lib. i.
c. 10—Cudworth's Intellect. Syst. Jerome says that heretics supposed that the same soul dwelt in Elias and in John.— The opinion is still professed by the Jews in the present day. "The revolution of souls from one body to another," says Menasseh, "is a matter of justifiable faith throughout our whole community."—Allen's Mod. Judaism, Chap. xi.—The wide diffusion of this doctrine is evident from Caesar de Bell. Gall. vi. c. 13.—Herodot. Euterp. c. 123. Diodor. Sicul. Biblioth. lib. v. This doctrine may, perhaps, be supposed to have originated from the principle adopted by Empedocles and other ancient philosophers, that all things have pre-existed and all things will continue to exist: that, in what is inanimate, nothing is produced or destroyed, because the forms are not real entities distinct from the substance, but only various compositions and modifications of it; and also in what is animate, nothing is produced or destroyed, because the soul,
* Chap. viii. 30. , f *'°'in '*,1—4i""
.r Matt. xvi. 14. Luke ix. 19.
writers, that there were some who entertained more correct views1.'
It remains, therefore, only to shew, that John the Baptist really went before the Lord in the spirit and power of Elias, and it will follow, as our Saviour declared to his disciples, that " Elias is indeed come9."—
It is allowed, that whether the prophet were Elias himself, or some one who bore a resemblance to him in character and conduct, he was unquestionably to precede the Messiah, and that the Messiah himself was to come, before the sceptre should depart from Judah3;—before the destruction of the second temple4;—and seventy weeks (of years, that is, four hundred and ninety years,) after the edict of Artaxerxes for the rebuilding of Jerusalem5. Now all these events are past: the sceptre has departed, and the tribe of Judah is confounded with the other tribes;—the second temple has been destroyed more than seventeen centuries ago;—yet, if we deny that John the Baptist, who appeared some years before the ruin of Jerusalem, and during the existence of the temple, and who exactly corresponded with the description of the forerunner, was that "Elias which was for to come6;"—no Elias, and no forerunner have yet appeared. It is certain, therefore, that no objection can be made to our interpretation of the prophecy from the period when the Baptist lived. Let us now examine in what respects his conduct agrees with the prediction, and resembles the peculiar manner of Elias.
though a real entity, distinct from matter, existed before the generation of the body, and will exist after its death.
"@vtj<TK€i o ovoev
Twv yivopevwv ZiaKpivopevov
Euripid. Chrysip. frag. This was the opinion of Pythagoras. "Nil perit in tanto quicquam ( mihi credite ) mundo; Sed variat, faciemque novat: &c."—Ovid. Met. lib. xv. 21. Thence he probably proceeded to assert the transmigration of souls.
"Omnia mutantur: nihil interit: errat et illinc,
See also Diog. Laert—Plato de Leg. X Minuc. Felix Octav.
c. xxxiv, &c.
1 Berriman's Sermon at the Boyle Lectures.—See PoCock, Comm. &c. "Quidquid sit, veniet Precursor aliquis, qui animos hominum flectat, ac probe disponat, ne terra anathemate percutiatur. Menasseth Ben-Israel, de Resur. 1. iii. c. 7- §, 3. "Tov lwavytjv HAi'ai/ eKd\eaev o Xpio-ros, ovK fVeiB»; \V\Uit Sjv d lwuvvtj<:, a'XX €7TEiSi) iv WVevjUtTi KOL ovvapeA q\dev Hai'oi/."
S. Chrysost. Oper. Tom. III. Hence John the Baptist is called by Gregory Nazianzen, "I/£os Hxi'as."—Orat. xxxix. * Mark ix. 13.
He came in the spirit of Elias7.—Both were remarkable for extreme holiness, both lived in an age of extreme depravity and corruption. In the days of Elijah, the Jews followed false gods; in the time of John, they mistook the character of the true God:—in the former period, the temple was a theatre of idolatry; in the latter, it was converted into a seat of traffic:—in the first, they abandoned the law; in the second, they perverted it by quibbles and sophistry.—Elijah called them from their distrust in the God of Abraham; John from their blind confidence in his exclusive attachment to his descendants.—Their manner of living, their education, their garb, their deportment were similar. Elijah hid himself " by the brook Cheritb, that is before Jordan," and was fed by ravens, and "drank of the brook1;" John retired into the wilderness, "and his meat Was locusts and wild honey*;"—Elijah was "girt with a leathern girdle round his loins," and the same garb was assumed by John.—Both were conspicuous for the same plainness, the same mortified austerity, the same boldness and zeal, the same perseverance and firmness.—Both were the censors of kings, both the terror of dangerous sects, both the intrepid resisters of surrounding iniquity. Elijah stood against the rushing torrent of profaneness, though greatness and power directed it; John, trampling under
3 Gen. xlix. 10. 4 Hagg. ii. 7—9. Mal.iii. 1.
5 Dan. ix. 24. 27- 6 Matt. xi. 14.
7 "Ideo fortasse in spiritu et virtute Eliae, quia sanctus Elias et virtutem magnam habuit et gratiam: virtutera, ut ad fidem animos populorum a perfidia revocaret, virtutem abstinentiae atque patientise et spiritum prophetandi. In deserto Elias, in deserto Joannes. Ille corvis pascebatur, hie dumis et calcatst omni voluptatis illecebra, parsimoniam prsetulit, luxumque contempsit. Ille Achab regis gratiam non qusesivit, hie sprevit Herodis. Ille Jordanem divisit, hie ad lavacrum salutare convertit. Hie cum domino versatur in terris, ille cum Domino apparet in gloria." Ambrosius. Comm. Lib. 1, in Luc. i. "Conversatione
"Conversatione prorsus simillima, ambo deserta secuti, victu fVugi, vestitu inculti, cinctu sunt despecti. Ambo Regis et Reginae vesaniam tolerant." Beda. See J. Maldonat. Comment, in Evang. T. II. p. 27. Theophylact in Lucam Comment. Franks on the Baptism of Jqhn. Lightfoot's Harmony of the Four Evangelists. Whitby on the New Testament.
1 1 Kings xvii. 5, 6. * Matt. iii. 4.