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the family of Abraham, the law of Moses, and the land of promise, operated likewise with regard to the Messiah. This was but a natural and necessary consequence.
For if they had fixed their thoughts on their national privileges, their ceremonies, and the inheritance of Canaan, the Messiah, by them desired, must needs be one, who would defend and preserve them in the enjoyment of those privileges, those ceremonies, and that inheritance. Accordingly, the notion current among the Jews when our Lord was upon earth, and which, we find, stuck fast to his disciples even after his resurrection, was, that Messiah, when he came, should “restore again the
kingdom to Israel .” And the grand argument insisted on in the Talmud, and by the Rabbins, is, that he did not subdue the nations by the force and terror of his arms. He overcaine not the Gentiles, say they, with martial power; he loaded us not with their spoils : he neither enlarged our dominion nor increased our power'.
Now the Scriptures do undoubtedly describe Messiah, as one who should deliver his people from their enemies, and reign over them in glorious majesty. The Jews construed those passages of a tem, poral deliverance from the Roman yoke, and a temporal reign in Palestine.
But did they construe them aright? Do not the same Scriptures unfold the design of his coming, and the process of the redemption by him, in the fullest and most particular manner? Surely they do. How many passages are there, always allowed by the ancient, and not now denied by the modern Jews, to belong to Messiah, which describe him as poor, lowly, despised, afflicted, oppressed, dying, dead! Would you now compose a man's character, without accounting for the contrarieties in it? Can you be said to have composed that of the Messiah, while you leave out one half of it? Are you not bound to find a person, in whom all the seemingly contradictory particulars are reconciled ? They are easily, they are completely reconciled in the person of Jesus, as set forth, by us Christians, in his twofold nature, as God and man. They never were, they never will, they never can, be reconciled in any other : and the Jews, by their modern fiction of two different Messiahs, to answer the purpose, have at once justified us, and given sentence against themselves.
• Acts, i. 6.
b See Pascual, p. 170.
But that the force of the prophetical testiinony in favour of the Messiahship of Jesus may appear at one view, permit me, in a concise and summary way, to recall the several particulars of it to your remembrance, as I find them collected by a very learned and eminent writer.
The prophets speak of a new and second covenant which God would make with his people: they mention, not once or twice, but very often, the conversion of the Gentiles from superstition and idolatry to the worship of the true God: they speak of four successive empires, the last of which was the Roman empire; and under this last empire, they say, that a new and everlasting kingdom should be established, by one to whom God should give absolute power and
dominion. A great person was to come, who should be Immanuel, or God with us, the Son of God and the Son of man, the seed of Abraham and of David; born of a virgin, poor and obscure, and yet one whom David calls his Lord; the Lord to whom the temple belonged, the inighty God, a great King, and everlasting Priest, though not of the tribe of Levi; born at Bethlehem; a prophet like unto Moses, but greater than Moses ; a prophet who should preach to the poor and meek, and proclaim liberty to the captives and comfort to the mourners, and heal the broken-hearted; who should proclaim his Gospel, first and principally, in the land of Zebulon and Napthali, in Galilee of the Gentiles; who should have a forerunner in the spirit of Elias, crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord; who should instruct in a mild and peaceable manner, without wrath and contention, before the destruction of the temple, in which temple he should be seen and heard; who should enter into Jerusalem meek and humble, and riding on an ass; who should work miracles more than Moses and all the prophets, and miracles of the merciful and beneficent kind, open the eyes
of the blind and the ears of the deaf, and make the dumb to praise God, and the lame to leap as an hart; who, notwithstanding all his power and goodness, should be rejected by the greater part of the nation, to whom he should be a stumbling-block; who should be despised and afflicted, a man of sorrow, and cut off from the land of the living; who should have enemies numerous, powerful, crafty, and wicked; who should be accused by false witnesses, betrayed by an intimate and particular friend, sold for thirty pieces of silver, and the money given for a potter's field, when it had been flung away by the traitor, who should not live long after his crime, and whose office should be filled up by another ; that the enemies of this blessed person should use him contumeliously, buffet him and spit upon him, while he should be led like a lamb to the slaughter, not opening his mouth, but to intercede for the transgressors; that his enemies should strip him of his raiment, divide it among themselves, and cast lots upon it, surround him, pierce his hands and his feet, mock him, and shake their heads at him, give him gall to eat and vinegar to drink; that he should be reduced to so weak and languishing a condition, that his bones might all be counted, his heart should melt within him, and his tongue cleave to the roof of his mouth; that he should be brought to the dust of death; that he should be pierced, and yet not one of his bones be broken ; that he should be laid in the sepulchre of a rich and honourable man, none of his enemies bindering it; that he should rise again, before he had seen corruption, and subdue his enemies, and ascend into heaven, and sit at God's right hand, and be crowned with honour and glory, and see his seed, and prosper, and justify many, and be adored by kings and princes; that then Jerusalem should be made desolate, and the Jews dispersed in all lands, and the Gentiles should be converted, and flow into the church. In the application of a single prophecy, especially c Dr. Jortin's Remarks on Eccles. Hist. vol. i. p. 112.
if it be a figurative one, interest and ingenuity may raise many doubts and difficulties; but against the accumulated weight of evidence, καθ' υπερβολην εις υπερβολης, afforded by so many plain literal predictions, all pointing to one person, all punctually and exactly fulfilled in Jesus Christ, and in him alone, no tolerably plausible objection can ever be made. Let candour and integrity, reason and common sense, be judges in the cause, and they must determine—they have already determined by the virtuous Nathanael -“ Rabbi, thou art the Son of God, thou art the King of Israel."
Such, then, is the case of the Jews, such the evidence they rejected, and such the cause of their rejecting it. Having fixed their eyes and their hopes upon the shadow, they set at naught the substance, though appearing at the time and in the manner described by their own prophets. Having rejected their God, they have been rejected by him; and the fatal errors, which occasioned their infidelity, have received a final and tremendous refutation, by the divine judgements inflicted upon them.
To demonstrate, that, as the seed of Abraham, they had no exclusive and indefeasible right to the favours of Heaven, those favours have been withdrawn from them, and conferred on the Gentiles.
To show that the law of Moses was not in itself efficacious, or designed to be perpetual, they are put under an absolute incapacity of observing it any more. They have no altar, no priest, no temple.
To reprove the fond notion, that Canaan was the end of the promises, they have been driven out of it,