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second, and not a third. 5. Our modern Rabbins tell us that the Messiah himself shall build the third temple; but the prophet here saith that the temple which they had already commenced, was to be completed, and then the Desire of all nations should come unto it.
6. That the prophet spake of the second, and not of a third temple, is acknowledged by the most ancient and most learned of our Rabbins. Zohar Ex. fol. 431. R. Azaria Meor Enayim. Yarchi, Aben Ezra, and Kimchi, and Targum Jonathan in loco. Lastly, it is confirmed by a similar prediction delivered by the prophet Malachi, chap. 3 : 1, which I shall presently notice more particularly.
3. I will now proceed to show, that by the desire of all nations, is meant the Messiah. This is indeed acknowledged by some of the ancient Jewish writers. Sanhedrim, fol. 97, 2; but the modern Rabbins, to evade the argument in favor of the opinion that the Messiah must have come already, will persuade us, that by the "desire of all nations,” is meant the " desirable things," such as gold and silver, as presents, to be brought into this temple. This opinion scarcely deserves our notice. I will, however, observe, that it is contrary to the grammatical construction of the text; foreign to the design of the prediction; utterly unworthy of the solemn expression “thus saith the Lord of hosts,” repeated so often in the text; far too low for the circumstances mentioned, to usher in the coming of the Messiah, as shaking the heavens and the earth, &c. &c.; it is an opinion contrary to facts, for far greater presents were brought to Solomon's temple than to this; It is in direct opposition to the intimation of Jehovah, that the glory should not consist in gold or silver; it is beyond all contradiction that this temple fell far short of the glory of the former temple, in all that the world would call great and glorious, as well as in matters of religion and worship; as our Rabbins themselves confess that five things were wanted in the se. cond temple, viz. the ark with the propitiation and cheru.
bims; the fire from heaven; the Holy Spirit, or spirit of prophecy; the presence or glory of Jehovah; and the Urim and Thummim; lastly, the description given in this predic. tion, and in the paralleled one of Malachi, perfectly suits and agrees with the Messiah. It was promised that in him should all the families of the earth be blessed; and again, that to him should be the expectation or desire, the gathering or obedience of the people; and the prince, the pattern, and procurer of peace. Now, my dear Benjamin, after this plain and brief statement, am I not justified in concluding that the Messiah must have come long since; for it is evi. dent he was to appear in the second temple, and to be its glory, excelling the glory of the former temple; but the se. cond temple was destroyed nearly 1800 years ago, therefore the Messiah must have come, or the prediction is false; to say the latter, would be to make God a liar, to believe the former, is my duty and my happiness.
4. I have already hinted that the prediction of Haggai is strengthened by a parallel prophecy of Malachi, chap. 3: 1, which needs but a moment's consideration. It is expressed thus: Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the
way before me: and Jehovah, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the Lord of hosts.” In this prediction the coming of the Messiah is again promised; with the addition, that he shall have an harbinger to prepare his way; and that his coming would be an awful judgment to the wicked, and great joy and consolation to the righteous. This promise of the coming of the Messiah was occasioned by the scoffing, wicked, and blasphemous inquiry with which the preceding chapter closed, viz. “Where is the God of judgment ?'' In answer to it the prophet declares, “ he shall suddenly come to his temple :" which some of the Rabbins thus explain : "God will raise up a righteous king to set things in order, even the king Messiah.” On the present oecasion, I
shall not take notice of the harbinger, (which must be con: sidered in a future letter,) nor of the effects of Messiah's coming, but observe,
5. First, That by " Jehovah who should come" and "the messenger of the covenant," is meant the Messiah. Most of our learned Rabbins agree that Jehovah and the messenger is one and the same person; and Kimchi, Ben Melech, and Ber. Rab. 16, f. 219, c. 4, and others, acknowledge that the messenger of the covenant is the Messiah; yea, R. Tanchum saith, "without doubt it is the Messiah.” The titles well agree with him, who is frequently called " Jehovah," and the "angel Jehovah,” and is promised as a "covenant to the people." Isa. 42:6. 49: 8. The description given of him as the person "sought after," and " delighted in," also agrees best with the Messiah; as we have seen already that he was to be “the desire of all nations," and that such a desire existed especially about the time of the coming of Jesus Christ.
$ 6. I observe, secondly, that the Messiah shall come "to his temple,"—the temple built in the days of Malachi, the second temple; peculiarly his temple, for he was to ap. pear in it to be its glory, and the substance of all it was de. signed to shadow forth by all its rites and ceremonies. To this temple he should come "suddenly," i. e. immediately, after his harbinger had appeared to prepare the way before him. Thus, my dear Benjamin, it is evident, from the united testimony of the prophets Haggai and Malachi, that the Messiah was to appear during the existence of the second temple; but the second temple has been utterly destroyed more than seventeen hundred years ago, and therefore tho Messiah niust have come long since.
$7. But as this subject is the hinge of the whole religious controversy between Jews and Christians, as has al. ready been observed, and is therefore of so much greater importance to be well established, I shall produce another proof that the Messiah must have come long ago, for he was to appear before the sacrifices and oblations ceased. This will clearly appear, if we consider the very remarkable prophecy contained in the ninth chapter of Daniel, from the 24th to the 27th verse: "Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people, and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the Most Holy. Know therefore, and understand, that from lhe going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem, unto the Messiah the Prince, shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city, and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.”
$ 8. The pious and learned Dr. Pye Smith, of London, hath made some judicious and important alterations in his translation of this passage. “Seventy weeks are determined on with regard to the holy city, to restrain the rebellion, and to put a complete end to sin, and to make atonement for iniquity, and to introduce a righteousness (which shall be for) ages, and to put a complete end to vision and prophecy, and to constitute the most Holy One the Messiah. Know thou, and deeply consider, (that) from the going forth of the (Divine) word for the return and for the rebuilding of Jerusalem, to the Messiah, the Leader, shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks. Thou shalt return, and it shall be rebuilt, both the street and the ruined wall, even in distressful times
And after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah shall be cut off ; but not for himself. And the people of a leader to come shall destroy both the city and the sanctuary; and its end shall be with an invasion, and to the end of the war desola. tions are determined. Also, one week shall confirm the covenant with many; and half a week shall cause sacrifice and offering to cease. And upon the pinnacle shall be the abominations of desolation; and yet he will pour out the consolation determined upon the desolate."
$ 9. The occasion of this important prophecy seems to have been this: the prophet Daniel, having understood by books, especially the prophecy of Jeremiah, that it would be a seventy years' captivity, fell into a very great concern of mind for his people, the city of Jerusalem, and the temple, and therefore set apart some time in fasting and prayer to God. His prayer was very quickly heard, and a gracious answer returned. Even at the beginning of his supplication, the commandment came forth, orders were given, and Gabriel was despatched as a messenger, informing Daniel that there would be a royal edict in favor of the Jews to rebuild Jerusalem; and that after a certain period of time, here specified, the Messiah, the Prince, would be cut off; and quickly after that the city and the temple would be destroyed, and the Jewish nation dispersed. In a word, in this prediction we have a summary of the Old Testament, the substance of all temple-service or institution, the centre of all promises, and a brief but most comprehensive description of the whole work of the Messiah.
10. Two inquiries, if properly answered, will make this important prediction plain and conclusive. We must first inquire into the period of time, how many years it contains, and when it commenced; and secondly, into the events that were to take place during this period. This will be the subject of my next letter. Meanwhile, my beloved brother,