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In a Psalm, which will shortly be more fully shewn to be a prediction of the Messiah, he is introduced as saying; "I am a worm, and no "man; a reproach of men, and despised of the "people. All 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, seeing he "delighted m him." * The subsequent parts of the Psalm 2 could not be spoken by David, or by any other man, in those days, concerning himself: and nothing in the preceding part of the Psalm had been spoken of the gentiles: so that the reception of the Messiah by Israel is most undeniably predicted; "the sufferings of the Messiah "and the glory which should follow."—Several other Psalms relate to the same subject; but do (not so obviously and expressly state it.3
Thus again, Isaiah; "Sanctify the Lord of "hosts himself: and let him be your fear, and let "him be your dread. And he shall be for a sanc"tuary: but for a stone of stumbling, and for a "rock of offence, to both the houses of Israel: for "a gin and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jeru"salem: and many of them shall stumble, and fall} "and be broken, and be snared, and be taken."4 Who is here spoken of, except Immanuel, just before mentioned ? ft Or, when did Israel so stumble and fall, in respect of " Jkhovah of hosts," as in the rejection of Immanuel?
However the prophecy be interpreted, it stands indelibly on the face of it, that what should have been a sanctuary, would prove " a stone of stum"bling, and a rock of offence, to both the houses "of Israel, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem." If Jesus was the promised Messiah, the fulfilment is known to all men: otherwise what events are predicted?
1 Psalm xxii. 5—8. 'Psalm xxii. 12—18.
'Psalm ii. 1—5. lxix. 4 Is. viii. 13—15. 'Is. viii. 8.
"The same stone, which the builders rejected, "is become the head-stone of the corner: this is "the Lord's doing; it is marvellous in our eyes." 1 I do not refer to the New Testament, as authority to Jews; but can they answer, as an argument, the application of this text by our Lord and his apostles ?2 What other so evident a fulfilment of it has ever taken place?
Again, one speaks by Zechariah; "Three "shepherds also I cut off in one month; and my "soul loathed them, and their soul also abhorred "me." "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 to the potter; "a goodly price that I was prized at by them." 3 If the Messiah be not here spoken of: what events are narrated or predicted? If he be ; then he, even Jehovah, would be "despised" and "abhorred by the shepherds of Israel * in the manner recorded by the evangelists.
Enough has been said to shew, that it might previously have been expected, that the Messiah would be received with contempt and aversion by a large proportion of the people to whom it was sent, and especially by their rulers and teachers: but our next inquiry,
1 Ps. cxviii. 22, 23. 'Matt. xxi. 42. Actsiv. 10, 11.
'Zech. xi. 8—13. Matt, xxvii. 3—10.
II. Concerning the death by which, according to the prophets, the Messiah would be cut off, will bring before us much more proof of this particular also.
Even the first promise of a Redeemer implied the idea that he would be a sufferer, "I will put "enmity between thee and the woman, and be"tween thy seed and her Seed: it shall bruise "thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel."l "The "sufferings of Christ and the glory which fol"lowed," in the triumphs of Christianity over idolatry and wickedness, or the cause of Satan, constitute the best, and the only satisfactory comment on this original promise of a Messiah: yet the more complete fulfilment of the clause, " It shall "bruise thy head," is still future; as the clearest exposition of the clause, " Thou shalt bruise his "heel," is furnished by the crucifixion of Christ, and the persecutions of his people, by those very persons to whom he said, "Ye are of your father "the devil; and the lusts of your father ye will "do: he was a murderer from the beginning." 2
But it would far exceed my limits to adduce, and comment on, all the prophecies respecting this subject in the Old Testament. "The Son of "man must suffer these things, and be rejected of "the chief priests, and scribes, and be slain, and "be raised up the third day." "Ought not Christ "to have suffered these things, and to enter into "his glory ?" >
1 Gen. iii. 15. * John viii, 44.
The portion of scripture, of which part was before considered, must now be proceeded with. When any man attentively reads the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah; the question almost irresistibly forces itself upon him: "Of whom speaketh the "prophet this ? of himself, or of some other man ?"2 I do not know that the prophet was ever supposed to have spoken of himself: so it is needless to dwell on the absurdity of such a supposition. Nor does it appear that any individual has been pointed out in whom the prophecy was, or will be, fulfilled.
Extracts are given by Dr. Whitby, on the eighth chapter of Acts, from ancient Jewish writers, maintaining, that the prophecy relates to the Messiah: but modern Jews do not admit this, and cannot be supposed to do it. We only request to know, of whom, or of what company, or of what transactions, it is either a prediction or a history? As a part of " the oracles of God committed to" the Jewish people, and owned by them to be ' the 'word of God;' it must have some important meaning, and we would gladly be informed what they suppose that meaning to be? When this is fairly and clearly stated, I trust learned Christians will give it a candid and impartial consideration. But we do not live in an age, in which silence and imposed restraints, on such a subject, will produce any other effect than a conclusion in the minds of men in general, that the Jews are conscious of being totally unable to disprove the Christian interpretation of the prophecy? though determined not to accede to it.
1 Luke ix.22. xxiv. 25—27. 44—47. * Acts viii. 34.
Some writers, as I recollect, have, in a general and indefinite way, asserted that the nation of Israel was intended, and not any individual: but it is almost self-evident that this interpretation cannot be maintained, or even rendered plausible, by any genius or learning of man. Let us, however, proceed to examine some parts of it.— "Surely he hath "borne our griefs, and carried "our sorrows; yet we did esteem him stricken, "smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was "wounded for our transgressions; he was bruised "for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace "was upon him, and with his stripes we are healed. "All we, like sheep, have gone astray; we have "turned every one to his own way, and the Lord "hath laid" (or, caused to meet) upon him the "iniquities of us all."1 It is undeniable that in these verses the writer speaks of many sinning, and exposed to suffering, and of one as suffering for their sins; and that, by his suffering the punishment which they had deserved, they are delivered and healed. Now, if the nation of Israel be the sufferer, considered as one person; who are they for whose transgressions Israel was wounded and bruised? Such language can never mean, that Israel suffered for his own sins; nor, that one generation of Israel suffered for the sins of other
1 Is. liii. 4—6.