« PreviousContinue »
But what interpretation soever be followed here, it is plain that he was to be an everlasting priest. The Lord sware, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever.' This promise is introduced with great solemnity, and con. firmed with an oath, and it is of a singular kind, since no such promise is made in the Old Testament to any other person. According to the system of the Gospel
, it was accomplished in Christ, who is our everlasting Redeemer and Intercessor.
The consequences of this promise were, that the Messias must live for ever, and not be subject to the dominion of death, else he could not be an everlasting priest; and that he could have no successor in the priesthood, since it would never be vacant; and that the Jewish priesthood and the ceremonial law must be abolished, and give place to an. other institution and covenant, and that the priesthood must be changed, and pass from the family of Aaron and the tribe of Levi to the family of David, and to the tribe of Judah, whence this Messias was to spring.
6. “The Lord shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion : rule thou in the midst of thine enemies.'
When the Gospel of Christ, first preached at Jerusalem, and thence spreading itself through the world, had been received by a multitude of Jews and Gentiles, this predice tion began to be accomplished, and it was further fulfilled when Christianity was established in the Roman empire.
7. In this Psalm it is plainly and expressly foretold that the Messias should be a victorious king, that he should have kings and rulers for his enemies, and that they should be overthrown and perish. This, as we have showed, remarkably fulfilled in Christ.
8. In the sixth verse, “He shall wound the heads over many countries,' may be translated, he shall crush the head (that ruled) over many countries.' · Confodiet caput quod multis terris præerat.'
Clericus. 9. In the seventh verse, "He shall drink of the brook in the way; therefore shall' he lift up his head.' That is
, says Le Clerc, 'He (who was head over many shall drink of the brook in the way; therefore he (the conqueror) shall lift up his head; Maxentius and his host
shall be drowned in the Tiber, and lay his head there, and Constantine shall lift up his head, and triumph over him.' This Le Clerc proposes, but modestly and with diffidence. The thought is ingenious, and to drink of the brook may mean to be drowned, as in Homer, Odyss. A. 511.
«Ως ο μεν ένθ' απόλωλεν, επεί πίεν αλμυρόν ύδωρ. Ovid Epist. vii. 62.
Neu bibat æquorcas naufragus hostis aquas.' But perhaps it would be more natural to understand it thus of the same person : ' As a pursuing conqueror takes a hasty draught at the first fountain in the way, and loses no time in refreshing himself,—so God, or the Messias, shall speedily subdue his enemies, and lift up his victorious head.' Soon after Diocletian began to persecute, the divine vengeance began to attack him and his wicked colleagues, and swept them off from the earth one after another.
We have showed the completion of these predictions in the establishment of Christianity, and in the destruction of those tyrants who rose up against it, and who became as the dung of the earth. It is no wonder that our Saviour and his apostles Y insisted so much on this Psalm, as on a prophecy, direct and plain, which, when it was accomplished, was so strong a proof of their divine mission, and of the authority both of the Old Testament and of the New.
The apostles have applied some parts of this Psalm to Christ, and they knew that the whole would be accomplished in him ; yet in their discourses and writings they avoided a particular mention of the destruction which should fall upon the persecuting princes, probably because they would not offend the Roman emperors, and give malicious men an opportunity of accusing the Christians as bad subjects, and as enemies to the government,
But we will not dissemble another interpretation which hath been given of this Psalm.
y Matt. xxii. 44. Mark xii. 36. Luke xx. 42. Acts ii. 34. i Cor. xy. 25. Hebr. i. 13. v. 6. vii. 17.
. It was made, say they, by David, for the use of the people, of his subjects, who were to rehearse it in the house of God, at the tabernacle.
* It relates in its primary sense to David, and the meaning of the first verse is, “ The Lord Jehovah hath said to my Lord (king David), Sit thou," &c. It is true that David was nó priest, but the word chohen is ambiguous, and
may mean either a priest, or an intimate friend of the king, who hath free admission to his presence, one of the great courtiers ; according to which sense the fourth verse may be interpreted, “ Thou art, of all the sons of men, my principal favourite, who hast free access to me.
• But then this Psalm, like many other prophecies, hath a double sense, and is applicable to the Messias, and is much more eminently accomplished in him than it ever was in David.'
This interpretation hath been proposed and adopted by Ruarus, and by some other Socinians. See Ruari Epist. t. ii. p. 116.
Now, if we should admit this double sense, yet it must be observed that Christ applied this Psalm to himself, that the apostles applied it to him, and that their interpretation was fully justified by a long train of various events, and by the accomplishment of the whole prediction in Christ, which is an irrefragable proof that they understood it rightly.
But there is no admitting this double meaning without adopting a precarious hypothesis, contradicting the general opinion of the Jews in the time of Christ, rejecting the version of the LXX, which translates chohen, lapsus, according to the usual sense of the word, and offering violence to some parts of the Psalm, which cannot be applied to David, unless in a sense very low and flat, “sensu valde diluto. David could not say of himself, “ The Lord said unto my Lord, nor did he sit at the right hand of God, exalted above men and angels, nor were all his enemies subdued under his feet, nor did they whom he conquered pay him a willing obedience, nor was he an everlasting priest, or an everlasting king, nor was his dominion extensive over the nations and the Gentiles.
** Davidis revera fuisse Psalmum testatur Christus, et Petrus. Uterque ostendit, vi verborum, de Christo agi, non de alio; qua in re non aptantur ei verba, quæ et alü convenire queant, ut interdum fit in vaticiniis ; sed statuuntur non aliter posse intelligi. Hoc unum non facile cuiquam concessero, hunc Psalmum non ad Jesum Christum solum et quidem directe referri oportere ; quod nec diffitebatur H. Grotius, qui ceteroquin insimulatur, quasi vix ullam prophetiam directe ad Christum solum pertinere fassus sit.Quod tamen immerito viro magno objicitur.' Clericus. See his Comment on this Psalm.
THE CONDITION of the Jews under Constantine should now be considered; but I shall take the subject from an earlier date, and offer a few remarks on the state of that people from the destruction of Jerusalem to this day.
• Howsoever unentertaining the History may seem to be which we have undertaken, yet it presents to the public view an object worthy of observation, and the greatest prodigy that can be imagined, namely, the preservation of the Jewish people in the midst of the miseries which they have undergone since seventeen hundred years. Religions depend on temporal prosperity ; they triumph under the protection of a conqueror; they languish and sink with sinking monarchies." Paganism, which once covered the face of the earth, is extinct. The Christian church, glorious in its martyrs, yet was considerably diminished by the persecutions to which it was exposed, nor was it easy to repair the breaches in it made by those acts of violence. But here we behold a church hated and persecuted for seventeen hundred ages, and yet sustaining itself, and widely extended. Kings have often employed the severity of edicts, and the hand of executioners, to ruin it. The seditious multitudes, by murders and massacres, have committed outrages against it still more violent and tragical, Princes and people, Pagans, Mahometans, Christians, disagreeing in so many things, have united in the design of exterminating it, and have not been able to succeed. The bush of Moses, surrounded with flames, ever burns, and is never consumed. The Jews have been expelled, in
different times, from every part of the world, which hath only served to spread them in all regions. From age to age they have been exposed to misery and persecution. Yet still they subsist, in spite of the ignominy and the hatred which hath pursued them in all places, whilst the greatest monarchies are fallen, and nothing remains of them besides the name.
• Their misery bears its peculiar characters. In their other captivities God marked out a time in which he would be propitious, and break the yoke of tyranny, and restore to them their lost liberty. The longest, which was the Ægyptian captivity, yet lasted only a few ages. After threescore and ten years they returned from Babylon, and the persecution of Antiochus was to cease after three years and ten days: but of their present evils God hath not fixed the expiration. God comforted them under their other distresses, by heroes, or by inspired men. Ezechiel prophesied at Babylon, and Daniel, long before the event, pointed out the Messias.
The Maccabees arose against the kings of Syria, and raised up the fallen glory of the nation, but hitherto none have appeared, besides false Messiahs, who, by their attempts to shake off the yoke from the people, have only increased its weight. The prophetic succession is extinct, and no sacred messenger arises to promise the end of miseries which have lasted so many ages.
• Even when God delivered them up to infidels, he preserved a body of the nation, by removing it to one place. It was entire in the vale of Goshen, when they were called out of Ægypt. Cyrus easily reunited the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, to send them back to Jerusalem. One of the nation inhabited the same cities, and the Israelites occupied the two borders of the river Chabor; but at the destruction of Jerusalem, and afterwards in Adrian's war, the nation, enfeebled by unparalleled massacres, was dispersed through all the provinces of the empire. The dispersion is as great as it ever was, and scarcely are to be found the remains of the ten tribes in the East, where for. merly they were numerous and considerable.
• The Romans, when they made themselves masters of Jud ea, left to its inhabitants a public worship, and the