« ZurückWeiter »
heaven is at hand. For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, the voice of one crying in the wil. derness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. And the same John had his raiment of camel's hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey.” Almost the same account we have in Mark, 1:1-7, and Luke, 3:1-6.
5. The Lord Jesus Christ himself hath twice testified it. When the messengers sent by John the Baptist had departed, “ Jesus began to say to the multitudes concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness to see ?-a prophet ? yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet. For this is he of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. Verily I say unto you, among them that are born of women, there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist : notwithstanding, he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come.” Matt. 11:7-14. On another oc. casion, when the disciples of Jesus asked him, saying, "Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come ?'' "Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things. But I say unto you, that Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them. Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist.” Matt. 17:10-13.
11. II. From the exact fulfillment of the prophetic description of the harbinger, in John the Baptist; before I proceed, it will be necessary to remove the objection frequently urged, "that John himself declared that he was not Elijah, and that therefore the Messiah is not yet come; and that Jesus, in direct opposition to John the Baptist, declared that he was the Elijah that should first come.” In answer, I would observe that Elijah is nowhere called Elijah the prophet, either in the Old or New Testament, but always Elijah the Tishbile. The prediction therefore contains simply a promise of a prophet, and calls him Elijah merely with respect of similarity of character and disposition. That this is the meaning, is evident from the exposition given of it by the angel Gabriel, in the words already quoted, viz. " that he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah.” Nor is it an unfrequent thing for a person to be called by another man's name merely because of similarity of character or conduct. Thus the Messiah is frequently called David; Hosea, 3 : 5. Ezek. 34 : 23. 37: 24; not because he was David personally, or his Son, but because David was an eminent type of him. Thus also Phinechas is often called Elijah, and Elijah is called Phinechas, because of the similarity of their zeal for the Lord of hosts. See Kimchi 1 Chron. 9:20. Targum Jonathan, Exod. 6:18. Baal Hat. Numb. 25: 12. Pocok. Not. Port. Mos. page 219. Some of our Rabbins acknowledge that no one can determine whether the messenger and harbinger is to be Elijah personally, or only like to him in degree as a prophet, and in disposition for zeal and piety, and that the event only can determine it. See R. Tanchuma in loco. Maimonides Tract. Melachii Cap. ult. Port. Mosis Notes, c. 6, p. 219. Hence when John the Baptist was asked whether he was Elijah, he answered in the negative, i. e. not Elijah in person; but being asked again, Who art thou then ?” he declared in the affirma: sive;" I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness," &c. &c. Nor did our Lord mean that John the Baptist was Elijah personally, for he calls him more than a prophet, Matt. 11:9; but like unto him, as the antitype is not only like, but far superior to the type. Having made these observations, I hope my dear Benjamin is prepared to receive the evidence that the prediction concerning the harbinger has been fulfilled in John the Baptist.
$ 12. 1. As it respects the similarity between him and Elijah. This might be shown at considerable length, but, to avoid prolixity, I will only observe that there was a strik
ing similarity in their manner of dress; in their austere way of living; in their temper and disposition; in their piety and holiness; in their courage and integrity; in reproving vice; and in their zeal and usefulness in the cause of God and religion.
$ 13. 2. As it respects his office. 1. “ To prepare the way of the Lord;" alluding to a common and well known custom, that when a great man or potentate traveled, a runner went before him, to see that the way be prepared. This John did, as foretold, by lifting up his voice in the wilderness, preaching repentance, directing to Jesus, as "the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world.” John, 1: 29. His labors were most extensive and useful; for in the space of six months, before Christ came, he traveled and preached throughout the country round about Jordan, Luke, 3: 3. 2. “To turn the hearts of the fathers to," or rather with “ the children," as Kimchi observes ; Al for Im, i. abundance of people, both fathers and children; and thus we read “that Jerusalem, and all Judea, and all the region round about Jordan went after him.” Matt. 3 : 5. 3. “ Lest I come and smite the earth with a curse;" i. e. those that would not believe in the Lord, whose way
§ 14. The prophet proceeds to predict the calamities which should follow. Mal. 4: 5. “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.” There can be no doubt that this great and dreadful day is a prediction of the awful calamities which befell our nation at the destruction of Jerusalem. For if we examine the histories of the former times ever so mi. nutely, we shall not be able to find any national afflictions or miseries whatsoever to be compared with those which our people suffered at that time. To this dreadful day, John the Baptist alluded in his address to the Pharisees, in Matt. 3:2, 7, 10, 12. But the Lord Jesus Christ has more fully predicted those calamities, which have been most punctually accomplished. See Matt. 24: 15–21. Mark, 13 : 19. Luke, 21: 20–24. compare Dan. 9: 26, 27,
Ø 15. The reader might naturally have expected, in this place, a discussion on the nature, design, subjects and mode of John's baptism; but having done this in my Essays on Baptism, the reader is referred to that work.
Having thus shown that the predictions concerning the harbinger have been fulfilled in John the Baptist, and John having declared that he was preparing the way for the Lord Jesus Christ, it follows that Jesus Christ is the promised Messiah. The miracles which Jesus wrought, form another of the credentials of his Messiahship, and will be the subject of my next letter. For the present, I bid thee
Dear Brother Benjamin,
I have endeavored, in my last letter, to prove that Jesus Christ is the promised Messiah, from the credentials with which he was furnished, viz. the peculiar unction of the Holy Ghost; the voice from heaven, declaring him to be the Son of God, with whom the Father is well pleased ; and the testimony of John the Baptist, the promised harbinger; and I also promised to consider, in this letter, the miracles which Jesus wrought, as another of the credentials of his Messiahship. To this subject, therefore, I now solicit your most serious attention.
When I say that Christ wrought miracles, I mean that he performed such acts as were contrary to the usual course of nature, and evidently surpassed all human power.
§ 1. That miracles, when properly attested, are sufficient evidence of a divine mission, is generally admitted, especially by our nation. Hence, when Moses asked the Lord by what means he should convince Pharaoh and the Israelites that the Lord had sent him, Jehovah replied that he would work miracles by him, which would be sufficient credentials. Hence our Savior considered his miracles a stronger evidence of his Messiahship, than even the testimony of John.“ I have greater witness than that of John ; for the works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Fa. ther hath sent me." John, 5 : 36.
Ø 2. I. That the Messiah was to work miracles, is, evident, 1. From the Scriptures of the Old Testament. Moses tells us, Deut. 18 : 15–18, “that the Lord would raise up a pror het like unto himself.” That this prophet was to be the Messiah, we shall show hereafter. Now, if that prophet was to be like unto Moses, he must, like him, perform miracles, to confirm his mission. The prophet Isaiah foretold that, in the days of the Messiah, “the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped; then shall the lame leap as a hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing: for, in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert.” Isa. 35 : 5, 6. 42:7.
3.2. It is also evident, from the testimony of our nation. In our Lord's time they expected it. On several occasions they asked for a sign from heaven. Matt. 12:38. Luke, 11:16. “And many believed in his name when they saw the miracles which he did." John, 2: 23. Those who had witnessed his miracles in feeding thousands with five loaves and two small fishes, said, “ This is, of a truth, that prophet that should come into the world.” John, 6:14. And on another occasion they said, "When Christ cometh, will he