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inconsiderable, compared with many other capital towns. This is what the prophet means by the expression, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah.' These districts were likewise sometimes called principalities ; on which account St Matthew quotes it thus ; . Though thou be little among the princes,' or principalities, of Judah,' without any alteration in the verses from the words as they are read in the book of Micah itself.

But the main thing to be observed, is, the description that is given of this extraordinary person, and the place he was to come out of; it was he that was to be ruler in Israel. Our Saviour assumed to himself the title and character of king of the Jews; that is, he whom his Father had appointed to give new laws to that nation, and to whose authority many of the Jews did, and all ought to have submitted themselves. Whose goings forth have been of old, and from everlasting ;' this is a most remarkable description. Who remembers not what is said of Christ, that he was in the beginning ;' that before Abraham was, he is; that he came forth from the Father; that he was before all things, the first born of every creature?' If what is related of Christ be true, he existed with his father before the foundations of the world ; so that in the strictest sense, it might be said that his goings forth were of old, and from everlasting. Thus much is certainly true; that Christ laid claim to this character, asserted that he had his existence with God before the creation ; nor is there any reason to suppose that he made this claim or assertion in order to bring himself within the scope and description of the prophecy, for this prophecy is never quoted by him or any of his disciples with that view, or for that purpose. There never appeared any other person, either in Bethlehem or any where else, of whom the same things can be said, even if you allow them every thing to which they pretend. No man ever pretended to have his existence with God previous to his being born into the world. Our Lord did; and to his character and pretensions the words of this prophecy clearly apply.

Nor is it inconsistent with Christ's character, what is said in the fifth verse, “This man shall be our peace, when the oppressor shall come into our land,' supposing, what the style of prophecy and some similar examples will warrant us in supposing, that the prophet describes the future enemies of the Jews under the denomination of the Assyrians, who were their enemies in his time. “Out of Bethlehem shall come forth he that is to be ruler in Israel, whose goings forth have been of old,



from everlasting. Out of Bethlehem never came any one that we have heard of, except Jesus Christ, to whom these words could belong in any sense, nor any persons of eminence at all. Bethlehem has for nearly seventeen hundred years been destroyed. It would be difficult, I suppose, to point out the place where it stood. It concerns the Jews therefore to show, if this prophecy did not receive its completion in Christ, how it was fulfilled, or is even possible to be fulfilled, at all. If you come to compute the power of chance, which some call in on every occasion, consider what the chance was, when one small town in a kingdom was pitched upon for the birth of an extraordinary person, that any extraordinary person at all should be born in it; much less one whose character and pretensions especially corresponded with so singular a description; "whose goings forth have been of old, and from everlasting.'

Nothing more remains of this prophecy, than just to observe by what curious and seemingly accidental means Divine Providence went about to fulfil its purpose. The parents of Jesus Christ were not inhabitants of Bethlehem; yet at Bethlehem, according to the prophets, was Christ to be born. It so felí out, or rather it was so ordered, that at that precise time a decree was published from the Roman emperor, that the inhabitants of Judea should be taxed. This was the only city to which his family belonged. Joseph and Mary, in pursuance of this decree, repaired to Bethlehem, the city of David, of whose lineage they were; and during the few days of their sojourning there, this illustrious event, the birth of Christ, took place.

I will next introduce to you a very celebrated passage of the prophet Haggai. The circumstances to be explained concerning it are these. Haggai lived after the return of the Jews from the seventy years' captivity in Babylon, just at the time of the building of the second temple of Jerusalem. The first temple, or the temple of Solomon, having been utterly destroyed by their enemies, the condition of the Jews did not allow them to erect a building equal by any means in magnificence to that of Solomon. The old men, who remembered the former temple in all its splendor, when they saw the very inferior plan and structure of the new edifice, were seized with that melancholy and concern which are always natural in such circumstances. This is described in the book of Ezra with much simplicity; ‘But many of the priests and Levites, and chief of the fathers, who were ancient men, that had seen the first house, when the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes, wept with a loud voice.' Now the prophet Haggai was


sent on this occasion to encourage those who were engaged in rebuilding the temple, that they might not be cast down by beholding the inferior condition of the new building, in comparison with the wealth and splendor of the old one ; and he addresses the governor, the high priests, and the people at large, in these words, second chapter, third verse; Who is left among you that saw this house in her first glory; and how do ye see it now! Is it not in your eyes in comparison as, nothing? yet be strong, O Zerubbabel, saith the Lord; and be strong,

Joshua, the son of Josedech, the high priest; and be strong, O ye people of the land, saith the Lord, and work, for I am with you, saith the Lord of Hosts; according to the word that I covenanted with you when ye came out of Egypt, so my spirit remaineth among you ; fear ye not. For thus saith the Lord of Hosts,' and here begins the prophecy we have been proposing to introduce, . Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake terribly the earth, and the sea, and the dry land; and I will shake all nations; and the desire of all nations shall come, and I will fill this house with glory, saith the Lord of Hosts. The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saith the Lord of Hosts; the glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, saith the Lord of Hosts; and in this place will I give peace, saith the Lord of Hosts.'

Now the first reflection is, that as the second temple had been long since destroyed, if this prophecy be not already fulfilled, it never can be. The opening of the prophecy, “Yet a little while, and I will shake terribly the heavens and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land,' is generally understood to denote the fierce civil commotions which were to precede the coming of the Messiah. Wars and tumults are almost constantly described by the old prophets under the figure of earthquakes, as so many convulsions and discords in the course of nature. It is here also more plainly said in what is added, and I will shake all nations. When the prophet speaks of the earth, and all nations, it must, in common reason, be understood of those nations and that part of the earth in which the Jews, the persons to whom he spoke, were personally concerned. Now this prophecy, according to this interpretation of it, was fulfilled. The coming of Christ was, in fact, preceded by violent and dreadful civil disturbances. The kingdom of Judea, after suffering many combats between its own princes, was a little before this time subjected to the Roman yoke. The Roman empire itself, which comprehended at that time the greatest part of the known world, and in scripture sometimes comprehended

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the whole of it, was, from the death of Julius Cæsar to near the birth of Christ, torn and shaken with civil wars and contests for the supreme power. The silver and the gold is mine, saith the Lord ;' that is, I value not the splendor of silver and gold; just as in the fiftieth Psalm, God declares how little he values their sacrifices, by the same sort of expression ; · For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills. When God declares that he values not the splendor of silver and gold, in which the former house no doubt much excelled, he in effect intimates that the glory and dignity of this latter house should be of a totally different nature from this.

I will repeat to you the prophecy, with these two parts of it interpreted. After violent wars and tumults amongst the whole world, the desire of all nations shall come, and I will fill this house with glory, saith the Lord of Hosts. The glory of gold and silver, in which the former house so much excelled, I value not. The glory of this latter house, which must consequently be of a different nature, shall be greater than that of the former, saith the Lord of Hosts; and in this place will I give peace. Who sees not Jesus Christ pointed out in this prophecy? The desire of all nations shall come.' Who was the desire of all nations? He was a blessing to all, as in fact, he was expected by most; for the expectation of some extraordinary person being then about to appear in the world, was at that time almost universal. Of what other Jew can this, or any thing of this sort, be said ?

The second temple frequently received under its roof this divine person, and was the scene of his prodigious miracles. Thus was it filled with glory, and that of the greatest and highest kind; in this respect was the glory of the latter house

1 greater than that of the former.

· And in this place will I give peace,' saith the Lord. Hear St Paul ; · He is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken the middle wall of partition betwixt us, and that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby; and came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them which were nigh; for through him we both have access by one spirit unto the Father.' How exactly do the prophet and the apostle agree! The peace here meant is peace or reconciliation with God, which it was our Saviour's declared purpose to preach and to produce.

The last prophecy I will detain you with at present, is to be found in the third chapter of Malachi, and the first verse.

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way, and the

Here are these words; Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom ye seek shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in. What is to be observed of this prophecy lies in a very little compass. • Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me. Here is an exact description of the office and character of John the Baptist, who came expressly to prepare the way before Jesus Christ; that is, to announce his approach, and prepare mankind for his reception. And the Lord, whom ye

· seek, shall suddenly come to his temple ; even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in ;' that is, the Messiah himself, whom they so earnestly expected, and from whom they promised themselves so much, should suddenly appear. • Suddenly ;' that is, after the messenger that was to prepare his

way. This is a very explicit prophecy, and has no difficulty in it, if you take care not to be misled by the term, to suppose

the messenger that was to prepare the messenger of the covenant, to be the same; whereas, if you examine the prophecy with attention, you will soon see that the one means the Messiah himself, the other his forerunner. For the messenger is to prepare the way before whom? before nothing, unless the Lord whom ye seek, the messenger of the covenant, be a different person from him. So that two distinct persons are plainly foretold in the prophecy, who were to be associated in the same plan and commission; who were, that is, the one to be introduced to give notice of the approach of the other; both indeed called messengers from God, but of different degrees and denominations; the one the messenger to prepare the way, the other the messenger of the covenant; the one necessarily to precede the other; the second, or greater messenger, to appear soon, or immediately after his forerunner, to supersede his office, as being preparatory to his own. No Christian, it may be hoped, is so ill versed in the gospel history as not to perceive the correspondence of all the circumstances, as to the appearance and preaching of John the Baptist and of Jesus Christ. John the Baptist assumed nothing, delivered nothing, in his own name. "I am

am not he.' His preaching and functions all referred to another ; himself was the messenger of God, but only to prepare the way for a greater. That greater messenger suddenly followed, the messenger of the covenant, who came into the world to convey from the Father, and communicate to the whole race of man, the knowledge and the condition of eternal salvation.

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