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Psalm, which we know is also a prophecy of the Messiah “ Save me, O God, for the waters are come in unto my soul; I sink in deep mire where there is no standing. I am come into deep waters where the floods overflow me: I am weary of my crying, my throat is dried, mine eyes fail while I wait for my God.---Reproach hath broken my heart, and I am full of heaviness; and I looked for some to take pity, but there was none, and for comforters bụt I found none,” ver. 1---3, 19, 20.
It would be perfectly easy to multiply quotations from both the prophets and the book of Psalms, in proof of the doctrine under consideration, and to justify the fact that, in all these writings, the Messiah is uniformly held forth as a suffering person, and equally so that his sufferings were to issue in his death, and his death to be followed by his resurrection. But on the prophecies which respect his death and resurrection, though numerous, I must content myself with one or two instances.
The sixteenth Psalm, which Christians must admit to be a prophecy of the Messiah from the application which the apostle Peter has made of it in Acts ii., thus represents the Messiah as addressing his heavenly Father in the immediate prospect of his death : “My flesh shall rest in hope, for thou wilt not leave my soul in hades, neither wilt thou suffer thine holy one to see corruption. Thou wilt show me the path of life; in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore,” ver. 9-11. So also the prophet Isaiah, ch. liii. 11: “ It pleased the Lord to bruise him and put him to grief-when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hands-he shall see of the travail of his soul and shall be satisfied. I will divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he hath poured out his soul unto death,” &c. Now with such abundant evidence contained in their own Scriptures, respecting the suffering character of the Messiah, is it not strange, passing strange, that the descendants of Abraham should allow their prejudices against Jesus of Nazareth to prevail, to the fatal extent to which they have done in every age, resisting the light which beams forth from the holiness of his character-the sublime and heavenly doctrines which he delivered in his public
PAUL'S PREACHING AT THESSALONICA.
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ministry—the miracles by which those doctrines were attestedand especially the exact fulfilment of a train of prophecies-and, let me add, his resurrection from the dead upon the third day, with his exaltation to the throne of his glory in the heavens, whence he, on the day of Pentecost, poured out his Holy Spirit on his apostles, enabling them to work miracles also, to speak with tongues, and set up his kingdom in the world, agreeably to numerous prophecies, some of which are fulfilling eyen in our day. But we shall now return to the apostle Paul, in the synagogue of Thessalonica, and take a fresh view of his manner of propagating Christianity in that city.
The remarks which have been offered may enable you to enter into his method of “ reasoning with the Jews out of the Scriptures, opening and alleging that Christ must needs have suffered and risen again from the dead, and that this Jesus, whom he preached unto them, is Christ, or the Messiah.” In doing this, we may readily conceive how the apostle would press home upon them that the seventy weeks, which the prophet Daniel had fixed for the Messiah's appearance, were now completed—that the promised seed must have actually come, or their own Scriptures were false,—and that this Jesus whom he preached was the very Christ. And, now that we have the subject before us, let us briefly.collect into one view some of the chief incidents which are upon record in the prophetical writings concerning the Messiah. It is evident that he was to be of the seed of Abraham of the tribe of Judah-and of the family of David.* All which was true of Jesus of Nazareth. The place of his birth was pointed out; viz. Bethlehem Ephratah: he was to be born of a virgin, and to be preceded by a forerunner, in the spirit and power of Elias, which was fulfilled in the mission and ministry of John the Baptist. + The Messiah was to preach the glad tidings of salvation, and confirm his mission and doctrine by working miracles, I an evidence of the Messiahship of Jesus which his enemies were compelled to admit. He was to be rejected of his own countrymen, according to many prophetic intimations,* and how truly this has been verified I need not stop to point out to you. He was to be treacherously betrayed by one of his disciples, and even the sum which the traitor should receive was specified.t A vast variety of circumstances are on record concerning the treatment which the Messiah should receive from his enemies ; such as that he should be numbered with transgressors—that he should be mocked and reviled amidst his bitterest sufferings—that they should give him gall and vinegar to drink—that they should part his garments among them, and cast lots for his vesture—that he should be cut off from the land of the living by a violent death, yet not a bone of him should be broken. I He was to be laid in the tomb of a rich man, but his flesh was not to see corruption ; for he was to rise again from the dead, and ascend into the highest heavens, whence he would distribute blessings in rich abundance on the children of men. These are only a few of the many particulars foretold by the holy prophets concerning the Messiah ; and the evangelists and apostles direct us to their accomplishment in the things that happened in their day to Jesus of Nazareth. In him they were all circumstantially fulfilled, but never were they fulfilled in any other; and it is upon these premises that the apostle insisted, when reasoning with the Jews at Thessalonica—“ this Jesus whom I preach unto you is the Christ.”
* Gen. xxii. 18, ch. xlix. 10; 2 Sam. vii. 12—16; Isa. xi. 1. + Mic. v. 2; Isa. vii. 14, ch. xi. 3, 4; Mal. iii. 1, and ch. iv. 5. Isa. Ixi. 1, 2, ch. xxxv.
Should there be any of the house of Israel present this evening attending to this Lecture I would earnestly and affectionately entreat them, as they value the happiness of their immortal souls, to lay aside their prejudices, and as reasonable beings, who must shortly give account of themselves to God, to examine into these matters—search the Scriptures, in which they think they have eternal life, and see whether those Scriptures do not testify of Jesus of Nazareth. We know the source of all their prejudices : Jesus was an obscure character, in humble life ; but was it not predicted by their own prophet Isaiah that the Messiah 'should be such? But they rejoin that Jesus was crucified
* Isa. viii. 14, 15, ch. xxviii. 16, and liii. 3; Ps. cxviii. 22. + Ps. xli. 9; Zech. xi. 12; with Matt. xxvii. 3—10. Isa. liii. 12; Ps. xxii. 7, 8; lxix. 21; xxii. 18; Dan. ix. 26; Ps. xxxiv, 20; Zech. xii. 20 ; Isa. liii. 9; Ps. xvi. 10; ii, 11 ; lxviii. 18; Joel ii. 28.
THE MESSIAH FORETOLD AS A SUFFERING PERSON. 121
as a malefactor, and his crucifixion is a stumbling block to the whole nation, which looks for a mighty conqueror in their Messiah, who shall lead them back to their own land, and reinstate them in all their ancient privileges. Alas! this is the veil upon their hearts in the reading of Moses and the prophets Jesus was taken and by wicked hands crucified and slain; but we ask, was there not a necessity for this ? How, upon any other principle, could their own Scriptures be fulfilled ? Did not their own prophets foretel that this should be the case with the Messiah? What would they do with a Messiah who should want such credentials to his mission ? He might, indeed, gratify their fondness for worldly grandeur and glory ; but what would become of the credit of their prophets? They cannot deny that the prophetical writings held forth the Messiah as a suffering person; but some are probably at a loss to account for the fact that such things were foretold of him. If so, I will tell them how the Scriptures account for it—'tis because the Almighty Governor of the universe had determined and decreed that such things should happen to the Messiah. When Herod and Pontius Pilate and the Jews took him, and by wicked hands put him to death, they only fulfilled the purposes of heaven :-wicked as their conduct was, they only did what God's hand and council determined before should be done, Acts iv. 28. This may possibly increase their perplexity, and they may demand, why did the blessed God predetermine these things concerning the Messiah? Now I know of only one satisfactory answer that can be returned to the question, and that is, that all the sufferings which befel the Messiah were indispensably necessary to accomplish the salvation of mankind; and this is the account that is invariably given us of the matter in the New Testament: they were necessary to render the exercise of mercy consistent with the rightful claims of justice, and to vindicate the honour of the divine government in extending pardon to the guilty. “ It became him by whom are all things, and for whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the Captain of their Salvation perfect through sufferings :" In other words, it was a conduct every way worthy of the great God, the universal proprietor and Sovereign Lord of all. · Jesus died the Just for the unjust, that he might bring us unto God.” “Without shedding of blood there was no remission of sin,” even
under the law: but the blood of Christ was shed by covenant for the remission of the sins of many; and the Gospel testifies that we have redemption in his blood, even the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of the divine grace. This is the scriptural account of this mysterious matter, and it is the only solution of the mystery that could ever bear examination.
In fine, notwithstanding the violent prejudices raised by the unbelieving Jews against a suffering Messiah, the doctrine of Christ crucified is the centre of divine revelation ; and it is a doctrine of the highest practical import. For, viewing those sufferings as vicarious, they show us the inseparable connexion that exists between sin and death, in the divine economy. If in any case these could have been separated, it surely must have been when the Son of God himself, standing as the representative of his sinful people, supplicated his heavenly Father with tears to be saved from them ; but, even in this case, we see it was not possible. In these sufferings we may contemplate as in a mirror the infinite evil of sin, and its hatefulness in the sight of God. When we think of the divine dignity of the holy sufferer, his relation to the Father, and the delight which the latter had in him, it was natural to think that he would he spared—but even in him the justice of God pursued sin until all its claims were satisfied in his death. Moreover, in these sufferings we are taught how sin is punished to the utmost and yet the sinner saved." Though there is no loosing the connexion between sin and its wages, viz. death, yet the sufferings of Christ show us a method which infinite wisdom hath devised for freeing the sinner from the obligation to punishment, not by dispensing with it, but by transferring it from the person of the sinner to the person of a substitute, even God's own Son, and so punishing him for the sins of the guilty, according to 2 Cor. v. 22, Rom. viii. 3; Isa. liii. 5–8; 1 Pet. iii. 18. And from the whole we deduce another most important inference, which is, that in the sufferings of Christ we have the highest possible manifestation of the love of God towards a ruined world. For as nothing can give so striking a view of the divine hatred of sin as the sufferings of his Son, so no where else have we such an amazing display of his love and grace toward the sinner. The holy apostles always point us to this as the highest expression of it. Rom. v, 8–10; 1 John iii. 16, ch. iv. 9, 10; Rom. viii. 32.