« PreviousContinue »
from the doctrine of the prophets, concerning the chief intermediate causes of salvation; and particularly concerning the incarnation of a divine perfon, and his humiliation and sufferings, in order to the salvation of his people; which confirms the highest meaning of the prophetic expressions about the everlating continuance of that falvation; leeing, if it consisted only in the benefits of a momentary life, whether fpiritual or temporal, the effect in that case would bear no proportion to the greatness of the cause. And indeed many of the strongest proofs of the point in view, may be drawn from the joint confideration of the principal prophetic instructions concerning the Mefliah ; as particularly concerning the divine glory of his person, considered in his highest capacity; his mysterious condescension in his incarnation and sufferings; the relations he stands in to his people, as their father, their husband, their representative, which is implied in his fubftitution in their room in his sufferings; his resurrection, his ascension to the right hand of God, Pf.cx. and his living there for ever, Pf. xxi. xxii. Ixxii.; his being a high priest there for his people for ever; his incomprehensible love to them so clearly demonstrated by his sufferings for them; his continued intercession, manifesting the continuance of the same love that appeared in his oblation, on which his intercession is founded; all these things proving his eternal complacency in his people's hap. piness; of which it is said, that when he sees it, he sees the travail of his soul, and is satisfied.. Nothing can be more inconsistent with such mysterious mercy and love, than to suppose, that the objects of it should be for ever cut off in a little time, one after another, by annihilation.
Various other confirmations of the point in view may be gathered from the instructions of the Old Teitament, concerning the vanity of the enjoynients of this life; the impressions the ancient fervants of God had of it ; and their considering their present state in this world as a state of pilgrimage, Gen. xlvii. 9. Pf. cxix. Nor can any thing be more just than the reasonings in the epistle to the Hebrews on this head, Heb. xi.
A collection of the chief prophetic characters
of the Messiah; and general principles founding the chief reasonings from those characters.
N considering the prophecies concerning the
Melliah according to the order of time in which the events foretold happened, for shortening and strengthening the proofs, that the prophecies to be adduced are meant of the Messiah, it is useful to collect, in one view, the chief characters of the perfon, and of the times of the Messiah, and of the prophetic style concerning him, so far as these characters have been proved by passages already explained; and to class tliem under some general articles, to which proper
references may be made in subsequent reasonings.
1. As to historical characters, it has been proved, that the Meffiah was to descend of the house of David ; that he was to be born, and to reside, in Judea, during the subsistence of the Jewish polity and temple, in the time of the fourth or Roman empire ; that he was to live in a low station of life, to undergo great fufferings, and to be cut off by a violent death; that he was to enlighten the Gentile nations in the knowledge of the true God; and that though he was to be the light of the Gentiles, he would be rejected by the prevailing party among the Jews ;
who, who, after rejecting him, would be dispersed by an entire diffolution of their civil polity.
II. As to doctrinal characters, it was proved, that, according to the prophets, the Messiah would be as a divine person coming into the world, in a singular manner, condescending to a subordinate office; a divine person incarnate; the universal, the chief, the perpetual prophet, priest and king, of God's people, in all ages and nations ; particularly, that he would purchase and procure redemption from sin by his sacrifice and intercefsion; that thus he would be, in a singular and peculiar manner, the cause and author of the blessings of God's covenant and salvation; the fountain of spiritual light, life, healing, righteousness, peace, and holiness, incomparably fitted for his undertaking by the Spirit of God; and that all characters of incomparable glory, dignity, and exaltation, above all mere creatures, are both expressly appropriated to him, and connected with the primary characters which describe his person and offices.
Ill. As to the names and titles given him, it was proved, that he is oftener than once called by the name of David; a name that never belonged to any temporal prince in Israel after the Son of Jesse ; that he is sometimes called by the name of the Branch; that the titles of, The Son of God, The Son of Man, The Prince of Peace, and The Mellenger of the Covenant, are appropriated to him in a peculiar manner.
IV. As to characters of the times of the Messiah, they are suitable to those of the Mefliah himself, being described as the times of the enlightening of the Gentiles, and of the desolation of the unbelieving and impenitent Jews; the time of the coming of the Lor i in a fingular manner to the world and to his people; the time when there would be a fountain opened to take away fin; when God's church hould be exalted to higher degrees of spiritual pri
vileges, of light, peace, holiness, and joy; when God's righteousness and falvation should be revealed, or more clearly manifested, and the light of his glory arise and shine on Zion; when glad tidings hould be published to Zion, and spread from Zion to other places; and when such things should be done, as should make the day of the Messiah both a day of singular confolation and joy to God's people, and at the same time an awful or terrible day of righteous judgements against the incorrigible adverfaries of his kingdom, particularly the abettors of Heathenish idolatry and Jewish infidelity.
V. As to the most distinguishing characters of the prophetic style on the subject in view, it was proved, that it is usual with the prophets, in fpeaking of it, to break forth into very singular exclamations, calling on the several parts of the universe, particularly on Zion, and sometimes on the wilderness and the illes, to rejoice and fing; to express great revolutions that God was to bring about in the state of the world, and of the church, as to mens most important concerns, namely those of religion, by metaphors borrowed from the most extraordinary conceivable changes on visible things, and particularly to express the removal of great obstacles by levelling mountains; as also to express the Messiah's work, his qualifications for it, and his benefits, by metaphors borrowed from the office of thepherds, the sword and bow of conquerors, the beauty and benign influence of the light, and the various necessaries and valuable comforts of life, and pouring down of waters to fructify the ground. It is also observable, that the prophets sometimes speak of the Messiah as a person whom they suppose to be made known to God's people formerly, by characters proper to make him the object of their singular delight and desire.
It is useful also, for abridging and strengthening the reasonings in view, drawn from these and the
like characters, to join together some general principles, on which these reasonings are founded, and to which it will be needful to make frequent references.
1. As was observed in the introduction, a prophecy is proved to be meant of Christ, if it agree to him truly and peculiarly, and if the thing foretold could not be foreleen in a natural way. These things concurring, at once prove the divine inspiration of a prophecy, and the truth of the Chriftian incerpretation of it; which complex conclufiun is the scope of the reasonings in view.
II. When a prophecy contains a character of the Messiah, (or, in general, of an extraordinary perfon to come), that is absolutely fingular and distinguishing, and is at the same time an uncontested fact, applicable to the history of Jesus Christ, this of itself makes a proof of the conclusion in view, if the fact be a thing above human foresight. A char'eter is absolutely fingular and distinguishing, not only when it is of such a nature that it cannot, but when it is certain in fact that it does not, agree to any more persons or events than one. Thus, for init:nce, the conversion of Heathen nations, (as distinguished from that of particular profelytes), by a light from Judea, is an event of that kini; that it is not imposible in the nature of the thing but it miglit happen in different ages, but it is certain in fact, that it happened only in the ages after Christ's coming. On the other hand, that eminent charactor so often mentioned, the beginner, or first and principal founder of tie kingdom of God, or of the worship of the true God anong the Gentiles, is a character absolutely fingular in the strictest fense ; it is not postible it thould agree to many: and of this kind are several of the doctrinal characters of the Mefliah above mentioned.
III. Though doctrinal prophecies are not direct prouts against unbelievers, of the truth of the doc