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SERMON XVI.

JER. xxiii. 6.

This is the name whereby He shall be called, The

Lord our Righteousness.

THAT the Jewish Prophets were occasionally favoured with very clear and distinct communications from God's Holy Spirit, respecting the personal character and office of the Messiah, is evident from this and many other passages of the Old Testament. They foretold, not only the time, and place, and other circumstantial particulars of his coming, but also his Divinity, his Incarnation, his authority as a Lawgiver and King, his Priesthood, his suffering as an Atonement for sin, and every thing which marked him to be the Redeemer of mankind. So numerous are the testimonies of this description, as to excite our astonishment that the very people to whom the sacred oracles were committed should not only overlook their most obvious signification, but even persecute and destroy the very

Person in whom, and in whom alone, all these marvellous predictions were so signally accomplished.

Among the most prominent of these stands Jeremiah's declaration in the text; a message well adapted to awaken the loftiest expectations in those to whom it was immediately addressed; nor less so, to confirm the faith of Christian believers who, in these latter times, are still better able to appreciate its entire import and signification.

The Prophet having foretold in the preceding chapter severe judgments upon the Jewish nation and their rulers, proceeds to comfort them with an assurance of the coming of that promised seed, whom, from the earliest ages,

their forefathers had been taught to look to as their great Deliverer. “Be“ hold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I “ will raise unto David a righteous Branch; “ and a King shall reign and prosper, and “ shall execute judgment and justice in the “ earth. In his days Judah shall be saved, “ and Israel shall dwell safely.” Here are specified certain appropriate distinctions of the Messiah not easily to be misconceived ;

a Jer. xxiii. 5, 6.

his descent from David, his regal and judicial authority, and the participation of both Judah and Israel in the blessings of his kingdom ; when these two kingdoms should no longer be separated from each other, but acknowledge the same sovereign Ruler. But lest it should be imagined that in this illustrious Person they were to recognise a temporal deliverer, an earthly monarch, a mere human legislator or sovereign, the Prophet adds, “ And this is the name whereby he shall be “ called, The Lord our Righteousness ;” a name expressive of qualities which never could belong to any of the sinful race of man; but which necessarily required that all the preceding characteristics of this extraordinary Person should be interpreted in a sense not incompatible with this transcendent title. From this title, indeed, nothing less could reasonably be inferred than his essential divinity; the original word, Jehovah, here rendered Lord, being that which the sacred writers never apply to any created being, even of the highest order, but restrict it to the true and only God. When, therefore, the Prophet designates by this peculiar title the same Person of whom it was said in the preceding verse that he should be of the seed of David, and consequently appear “ in fashion

وو. b

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as a man,” the passage can only be rendered consistent with itself by supposing that in him the human nature was to be united with the divine; and that by virtue of this mysterious union he was to become “the Lord our “ Righteousness,” the Saviour of mankind, the Person through whom mankind should be accepted as righteous in the sight of God.

With reference, perhaps, to this remarkable expression, St. Paul speaks of Christ as being “ made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, “ and sanctification, and redemption b;" and St. John styles him “ Jesus Christ the Right

eouse.” Isaiah also prophesied, that his name should be called “EMMANUEL, or, God with

d;" which prophecy St. Matthew identifies with the angel's prophetic message to Joseph, “Thou shalt call his name Jesus, for “ he shall save his people from their sins e.” The identity (if we may so say) of the two appellations, appears to consist in the meaning of the name Jesus, which denotes a Saviour, and which was given him because he should“ save his people from their sins.” They were his people, not in his human character, or by any earthly authority he had over them; but by virtue of his divine chab1 Cor. i. 30.

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us

d Isa, vii. 14.14 e Matt. i. 21.

cl John ii. 1.

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racter, inasmuch as he was Jehovah, Emmanuel, their Creator as well as their Redeemer. In this sense alone he was, as the same Prophet had declared of him, "mighty to save:” and hence we may presume the Evangelist regarded the name Jesus to be in force and meaning equivalent to that of Emmanuel. Jeremiah's prophecy still more distinctly marks this connection between them ; since it unites in one and the same expression both the divinity of our Lord, and his atonement for sin, and the inseparability of these from each other. He was the Lord Jehovah, or “ God with us;" and he became “our Right“ eousness," as his name Jesus denoted, to

save us from our sins.” In this twofold character we acknowledge him as the Redeemer of mankind.

Thus briefly, yet not obscurely, does the Prophet in these words present to us a subject of the deepest interest that can occupy the mind of man; a subject, indeed, which it passes our finite understandings fully to comprehend; but of which, however inadequate our conceptions of it, we may yet discern enough to awaken our gratitude and love towards its divine Author, and to teach us to what end it should be applied.

The first step towards a right apprehension

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