Page images
PDF
EPUB

books of prophecies till now. Several of them wrote histories of the wonderful dispensations of God towards his church. This we have observed already of Samuel, who is supposed to have written Judges and Ruth, and part of the first of Samuel, if not the book of Joshua. And Nathan and Gad seem to have written the rest of the two books of Samuel: And Na. than, with Ahijah and Iddo, wrote the history of Solomon, which is probably that which we have in the first book of Kings. The history of Israel seems to have been further carried on by Iddo and Shemaiah : 2 Chron. xii. 15.“ Now the acts of Rehoboam, first and last, are they not written in the book of Shemaiah the prophet, and Iddo the seer, concerning genealogies?” And after that the history seems to have been further carried on by the prophet Jehu, the son of Hanani : 2 Chron. xx. 34. “ Now the rest of the acts of Jehoshaphat, first and last, behold they are written in the book of Je. hu, the son of Hanani, who is mentioned in the book of the kings of Israel," as we find him to be, 1 Kings xvi. 1, 7. And then it was further continued by the prophet Isaiah : 2 Chron. xxvi. 22. “ Now the rest of the acts of Uzziah, first and last, did Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amos, write." He probably did it as well in the second book of kings, as in the book of his prophecy. And the history was carried on and finished by other prophets after him.

Thus the prophets, even from Samuel's time, had from time to time, been adding to the canon of scripture by their historical writings. But now, in the days of Uzziah, did God first raise up a set of great prophets, not only to write histories, but to write books of their prophecies. The first of these is thought to be Hosea the son of Beeri, and therefore his prophecy, or the word of the Lord by him, is called the beginning of the word of the Lord ; as Hosea i. 2. « The bes ginning of the word of the Lord by Hosca ;" that is, the be. ginning, or the first part, of the written word of that kind, viz. that which is written in books of prophecy. He prophecied in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam, the son of Joash, king of Israel. There was many other witnesses ; for God

raised up about the same time to commit their prophecies to writing Isaiah, and Amos, and Jonah, and Micah, and Nahum, and probably some others ; and so from that time forward God seemed to continue a succession of writing prophets.

This was a great dispensation of Providence, and a great advance made in the affair of redemption, which appears, if we consider what was said before, that the main business of the prophets was to foreshew Christ, and his redemption. They were all forerunners of the great prophet. The main end why the spirit of prophecy was given them was, that they might give testimony to Jesus Christ, the great Redeemer, that was to come ; and therefore the testimony of Jesus, and the spirit of prophecy, are spoken of as the same thing : Rev. xix. 10. “ And I fell at his feet to worship him : And he said ụnto me, See thou do it not; I am thy fellow servant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus : Worship God: For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” And therefore we find, that the great and main thing that the most of the prophets in their written prophecies insist upon, is Christ and his redemption, and the glorious times of the gospel, which should be in the latter days, according to their manner of expression. And though many otheị things were spoken of in their prophecies, yet it seems to be only as introductory to their prophecy of these great things. Whatever they prophecy of, here their prophecies commonly terminate, as you may see by a careful perusal of their writings.

These prophets were set to writing their prophecies by the spirit of Christ that was in them, chiefly for that end, to foreshow and prepare the way for the coming of Christ, and the glory that should follow. And in what an exalted strain do they all speak of those things; many other things they speak of in men's usual language. But when they come upon this subject, what a joyful heavenly sublimity is there in the language they use about it! Some of them are very partcular and full in their predictions of these things, and above all the Prophet Isaiah, who is therefore deservedly called the evangelical prophet. He seems to teach the glorious doctrines of the gospel almost as plainly as the apostles did, who preach

VOL. II. R

ed after Christ was actually come. The Apostle Paul there. fore takes notice, that the Prophet Esaias is very bold, Rom. x. 20. i. e. as the meaning of the word, as used in the New Testament, is very plain, he speaks out very plainly and fully ; so being “very bold” is used, 2 Cor. i. 12, we use “ great plainness of speech,” or “ boldness," as it is in the margin.

How plainly and fully does the prophet Isaiah describe tho manner and circumstances, the nature and end of the suffering and sacrifice of Christ, in the 53d chapter of his prophecy. There is scarce a chapter in the New Testament itself which is more full on it! And how much, and in what a glorious strain, does the same prophet speak from time to time of the glorious benefits of Christ, the unspeakable blessings which shall redound to his church through his redemption Jesus Christ, the person that this prophet spoke so much of, once appeared to Isaiah in the form of the human nature, the nature that he should afterwards take

apon

him. We have art account of it in the 6th chapter of his prophecy at the beginning ; « I saw also the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lift-, ed

up, and his train filled the temple,” &c. This was Christ that Isaiah now saw, as we are expressly told in the New Tesa tament. See John xii. 39, 40, 41.

And if we consider the abundant prophecies of this and the other prophets, what a great increase is there of the light of the gospel, which had been growing from the fall of man to this day? How plentiful are the revelations and prophecies of Christ now, to what they were in the first period of the Old Testament, from Adam to Noah? Or to what they were in the second, from Noah to Abraham ? Or to what they were before Moses, or in the time of Moses, Joshua, and the Judg. es? This dispensation that we are now speaking of, was also a glorious advance of the work of redemption by the great additions that were made to the canon of scripturę. Great part of the Old Testament was written now, from the days of Uza, ziah to the captivity into Babylon. And how excellent are those portions of it? What a precious treasure have those prophets committed to the church of God, tending greatly to

confirm the gospel of Christ ? And which has been of great

) comfort and benefit to God's church in all ages since, and doubtless will be to the end of the world.

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

PART VL

de the

From the Babylonish Captivity to the Coming of

Christ,

[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

I COME now to the last period of the Old Testament, viz that which begins with the Babylonish Captivity, and ex., tends to the coming of Christ, being the greatest part of six hundred years, to shew how the work of redemption was carried on through this period.

But before I' enter' upon particulars, I would obserye,in three things, wherein this period is distinguished from the preceding periods of the times of the Old Testament.

1. Though we have no account of a great part of this period in the scripture history, yet the events of this period are moro the subject of scripture prophecy, than any of the preceding periods. There are two ways wherein the scriptures give account of the events by which the work of redemption is carried on; one is by history, and anotheris by prophecy: And in one or the other of these ways we have contained in the scriptures an account how the work of redemption is carried on from the beginning to the end. Although the scriptures do not contain a proper history of the whole, yet there is contained the whole chain of great events by which this affair hath been carried on from the foundation, soon after the fall of man, to the finishing of it at the end of the world, either in history or prophecy. And it is to be observed, that where the scripture is wanting in one of these ways, it is made up in the other. Where scripture history fails, there prophecy takes place; so that the account is still carried on, and the chain is not broken, till we come to the very last link of it in 'the consummation of all things.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

And accordingly it is observable of this period or space of time that we are upon, that though it is so much less the cubject of scripture history, than most of the preceding periods, so that there is above four hundred years of it that the scriptures give us no history of; yet the events of this period are more the subject of scripture prophecy, than the events of all the preceding periods put together.

Most of those remarkable prophecies of the book of Daniel do refer to events that were accomplished in this period: So most of those prophecies in Isaiah, and Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, against Babylon, and Tyrus, and against Egypt, and many other nations, were fulfilled in this period.

So that the reason why the scriptures give us no history of so great a part of this period, is not because the events of this period were not so important, or less worthy to be taken notice of, than the events of the foregoing periods; for I shall hereafter show how great and distinguishedly remarkable the events of this period were. But there are several other reasons which may be given of it. One is that it was the will of God that the spirit of prophecy should cease in this period, (for reasons that may be given hereafter ;) so that there were no prophets to write the history of these times ; and there, fore God, designing this, took care that the great events of this period should not be without mention in his word ; and so ordered it, that the prophecies of scripture should be more full here, than in the preceding periods. It is observable, that that set of writing prophets that God raised up in Israel, were raised up at the latter end of the foregoing period, and at the beginning of this ; which it is likely was partly for that reason, that the time was now approaching, of which the spirit of prophecy having ceased, there was to be no scripture history, and therefore no other scripture account but what was given in prophecy.

And another reason that may be given why there was so great a part of this period left without an historical account in scripture, is, that God in his providence took care, that there should be authentic and full accounts of the events of this period preserved in profane history. It is remarkable, and very

« PreviousContinue »