Acts XXVIII. 23.

And when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into his

lodging, to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God; persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening.

The next prophecy, in the order and manner I have proposed to mention them, is from the ninth chapter of Daniel, and begins at the twentyfourth verse, as follows; Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the time spoken of, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most holy. Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem until Messiah the prince, shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks; and the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times; and after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself; and the people of the prince that shall come sball destroy the city and the sanctuary, and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined ; and he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week, and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined, shall be poured upon the desolate.'

Now in this prophecy, amongst some places that are dark and obscure, there are others which point out the coming and character of Jesus Christ in very plain words. I believe the best way of considering it will be first to lay out of the question that of the computation of the time, which forms a material part of the prophecy. Now, that for the present being omitted, it appears, I think, that at some future period, the most holy, the Messiah, the Saviour should appear, and that he should be cut off, that is, be put to death, but not for himself, and that some future and foreign nation should then destroy the city and the sanctuary.

I hardly need observe that, supposing Jesus Christ to be the person meant in this prophecy, all this was punctually fulfilled. I will repeat to you the former part of the prophecy, and you will judge whether it is not as plainly foretold. . From the going forth of this commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem until Messiah the prince, shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks; the street shall be built again, and the wall, in troublous times; and after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself; and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and sanctuary.'

The next thing to be represented is, from the description that is given of what was to come to pass at this appointed time, that it corresponds with the office and ministry of Christ.

Seventy weeks,' the prophecy begins, are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city ;' to do what? to finish transgression, to make an end of sin, to make a reconciliation for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up the vision of prophecy, and to anoint the most holy.' First ; at this time transgressions were to be finished, and sins made an end of.

The epistle to the Hebrews twice describes the christian scheme in words borrowed from the prophet Jeremiah, and which, in effect, say the same thing that is here foretold. · For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and iniquities I will remember no more. Secondly ; if this reconciliation was to be made for iniquity, or as it might better be rendered, iniquity to be expiated, who knows not that he is the propitiation for our sins ; ' that now, even at the end of the world, he hath appeared, to put away sins by the sacrifice of himself?' Again, everlasting righteousness was to be brought in ; . This is his name, the Lord our righteousness.' 'A sceptre of righteousness,' says the epistle to the Hebrews, is the sceptre of thy kingdom, that is, the doctrine of the gospel. The fifth chapter and thirteenth verse of the same epistle, it is emphatically called the word of righteousness.' It does not appear of these expressions were applied with a view to the prophecy of Daniel; nor do I think it material to the argument, whether they apply to Christ in a literal or figurative sense, because if these bear any sense so easy and natural as to lead his followers to apply these expressions to him afterwards, they might in the same sense, no doubt, be predicted of him before. The two remaining clauses of the verse, to seal up the vision of prophecy, and to anoint the most holy,' are commonly supposed to signify the accomplishing the vision and consummating the prophecy, both which were done by the death of Christ. Jesus knowing that all these things were now accomplished, that the scriptures might be fulfilled, said, “ I thirst ;” and when he received the vinegar, he said, “ It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up the ghost.' The great outlines of the prophecy generally, I think, must apply to Christ.

that any

We must now enter a little into the circumstances of the times, which were assigned with great precision, and compose a principal part of the whole prophecy. “Seventy weeks are determined upon thy holy city. This is afterwards spoken of under two distinct periods ; · From the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem, shall be seven weeks and threescore and two weeks.' Now I believe it is pretty generally allowed, both by Jews and Christians, that the weeks here meant are weeks, not of days, but of years; a week, that is, being seven years instead of seven days. This way of reckoning, which seems odd enough to us, had nothing in it unintelligible to a Jew. Every seventh year was with them like every seventh day, a year of rest for the land and husbandry, and called the sabbatical year. This made the periods of seven years a familiar division of time to them; and it is not unnatural to call it a week of years, as it consists, like the common weeks, of seven parts, and the seventh in both was a sabbath. But this is not all. A similar computation is used in their book, which they are best acquainted with, the book of the law. In the twentyfifth of Leviticus and the eighth verse, the observation of the jubilee is enjoined in the following terms; • And thou shalt number seven sabbaths of years unto thee, seven times seven years.' Sabbaths of years, you observe, is a plural very like the weeks of years spoken of in Daniel ; but, what is more, in the next chapter to this of Daniel, and about the beginning of it, there are the following remarkable words ; I ate no pleasant bread, neither came flesh nor wine in my mouth, neither did I anoint myself at all till three whole weeks were fulfilled.' Weeks of days it is in the original, though our translators have improperly rendered it three whole weeks. Now this expression, weeks of days,' is a plain indication that the weeks he had been speaking of before were not weeks of days. Reckoning then a week a week of years, or a term of seven years, it was to be seventy weeks, or four hundred and ninety years, from the going forth of the commandment to restore and build Jerusalem, unto Messiah the prince. And in fact in was so.

It was four hundred and ninety years betwixt the Jews being reincorporated into a people after their captivity, and a holy city, and the death of Christ.

There are two other parts of the prophecy which seem to answer according to this interpretation ; verse twentyninth, • Yet he shall confirm this covenant with me for one week.' For one week ; that is, for seven years. Now, in fact, it was for just seven years that the covenant was preached to the Jews, and confirmed with many of them; for seven years after the death of Christ was the first calling of the Gentiles, and from thence we may date the rejection of the Jews. And again, in the twentyseventh verse, ' In the middle of the week,' or, as it should be translated, in half a week, he shall cause the sacrifice and oblation to cease. Now the Roman army were three years and a half, about half a week of years, from their first invasion of Judea, to the final destruction of the city and temple, when sacrifice and the oblation of necessity ceased. At this distance of time, and with the disadvantages we are under, it is not to be wondered at if there should be some difficulty or some uncertainty in this computation ; but this single expression, Messiah shall be cut off, but not for himself, and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary,' so plainly and precisely agrees with the death of Christ, and the subsequent destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, that it can never, I think, be got over.

I have now laid before you all the prophecies I intended to produce; by no means, however, all the prophecies that are generally understood to relate to Christ, nor, as some perhaps may think, the clearest; but they are those which, in my judgment, carry upon the face of them the apparent application to Jesus Christ, and were the easiest to be explained. As a sequel to the short exposition, if such it can be deemed, it may not be unsuitable to the argument to collect, into one point, the various particulars concerning Christ, described and comprised in the prophecies we have quoted from the Old Testament.

First, then, I take it to be manifest that, according to these prophecies, some extraordinary person or other was to be expected to appear. I take this to be manifest, not only from the words and terms of the prophecies themselves, but because the Jews universally, upon the strength of these prophecies, did, in fact, expect such a person, and there was no difference of opinion at all upon this head. Those who received Christ, and those who rejected him, did all acknowledge that the Messiah, an extraordinary person, was to arrive amongst them. Christians and Jews are agreed also upon this head at this day. But the fact of an extraordinary person being foretold, and an extraordinary person appearing, would not alone be sufficient to build upon, unless some further and more appropriate circumstances be found in the prophecies to identify and describe him.

These circumstances may be reduced to the following heads; The time of his appearance, the place of his appearance, the circumstances of his birth, his nature, and his office. First, the time of his appearance.

It was to be whilst the sceptre continued with the tribe of Judah;' after it had departed from the other tribes, and when it was about also to depart from this; it was to be during the standing of the second temple, after violent civil commotions in the world; it was to be near the time that the people of the prince that should cone would destroy the temple and the sanctuary ;' it was to be, seventy weeks, or four hundred and ninety years,' from the going forth of the commandment to rebuild Jerusalem.' Exactly at such a time Christ did in fact appear. Secondly, the place of his appearance.

• He was to be of the seed of Abraham and of David, and to come out of Bethlehem of Judea.' Christ was a descendant of Abraham's and of the house of David, and was born at Bethlehem.

Thirdly, the circumstances of his birth. He was to be preceded by a forerunner, and to be born of a virgin.' Christ was preceded by John the Baptist, and as is related of him, born of a virgin.

Fourthly, his nature. • He was to be Immanuel, or God with us. His years, further, were of old and from everlasting. He was the anointed,' the prince, the most holy;' If we acknowledge his claims, he was all this, and in a sense that no other man ever pretended to.

Fifthly, his office. He was to be a blessing to all nations.' Unto him was the gathering of the people to be. He was to be ruler in Israel ;' he was to be the desire of all nations ;'

he was to excel in glory of a different kind from the splendor of gold and silver ;' he was to be the person whom they so earnestly expected, and from whom they promised themselves so great things; he was to give 'peace;' he was to be cut off, but not for himself;' he was to finish transgressions, to make an end of sin, to extirpate iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness.' How truly all these may be said of Jesus Christ, in a literal or scriptural sense, you must judge for yourselves. I think I have shown that these things were all, in fact, though in other words, said of him by his followers, who under

« VorigeDoorgaan »