Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

the mere statement of which seems sufficient to ensure its rejection. But the adoption of this hypothesis by any who admit the Divine authority of the New Testament, as well as the Old, is still more extraordinary. The New Testament represents the law as preparatory to the Gospel, and the rites of Judaism as typical of Christianity. Hence it will follow, that if the law of Moses was a compliance with hea.; then notions and customs, the Gospel of Jesus Christ must be the same.

This inference is unavoidable. But that the system of the Gospel, in which Jehovah is declared to have " abounded in all wisdom and prudence,” which is described as an object of eternal decrees, and the consummation of preceding economies, which is represented as exciting the curiosity of angelic minds and affording them new discoveries of “the manifold wisdom of God;"—that this system was framed in compliance with the notions of erring heathens, who had “changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator,"'. is a notion equally repugnant to reason and dishonorable to revelation."

Excuse, my dear Benjamin, the length of this letter: read it over with meditation and prayer, and the God of our fathers give you an understanding mind and believing heart. Amen

Farewell.

Letter XIII.

THE VICARIOUS SUFFERINGS AND DEATH OF THE MES

SIAH PREDICTED AS WELL AS TYPIFIED.

Dear Brothet,

8 1. In describing the eternal covenant between the Father and the Son, it was shown that the Messiah voluntarily en

gaged to suffer and die in the place of his people. It has also been shown that this engagement was made known to our first parents in paradise, in the promise of a Messiah, and illustrated by the institution of sacrifices, and more fully typified under the Levitical priesthood. I will now endeavor to prove that it was also predicted by the prophets, not only. ihat the Messiah was to suffer before he entered into his glory, but that his sufferings and death were to be of a dicarious nature. The sufferings and death of the Messiah predicted in Dan. ch. 9th, have already been noticed, and will again be referred to hereafter. I shall confine myself more particularly to the predictions of David and Isaiah.

§ 2. It is very evident that the 22d Psalm speaks of the Messiah. It is plain from the whole of the Psalm, that one single individual person is spoken of; this person is distinguished from those called brethren, congregation of Israel, and those that feared the Lord. v. 22, 23. Hence the person suffering could not be the congregation of Israel, as Kimchi would have it. And though David met with much opposition, yet there are several circumstances mentioned which are by no means applicable to him. See ver. 14-18. Be. side, the happiness which was to flow from his sufferings, and the conversion of the Gentiles, which was to follow, show that the sufferer was none but the Messiah,“ in whom all the nations of the earth were to be blessed." The title of this Psalm, whether it signifies “the hind of the morning" or the morning star," or as the Targum, “the daily morning sacrifice," points out the Messiah, and has all been fulfilled, (as we shall show, God willing,) in Jesus of Nazareth, who from his birth, like a hind, was persecuted, is called the morning star, and is the antitype and fulfillment of all the sacrifices.

Several parts of this Psalm have been applied to the Messiah by our Rabbins. See Medrish Thillim in loco, and Yar chi in ver. 26.

Here we have a brief description of the outward sufferings of the Messiah, but we shall now consider the nature, design, and effects thereof, as foretold by the prophet Isaiah in 53d chapter.

$ 3. The prophecies of Isaiah contain the clearest reve. lations of the Messiah, and are written in the loftiest style of any part of the Old Testament; but this chapter is an emi. nent instance of both. It contains an exact description both of his sufferings and his glories, represented in bright and lively colors, and in a phrase exceeding lofty and sublime. The veil of the temple seemed to have been drawn aside, though not yet rent asunder, and the light of the Gospel shone forth with a brighter glory than ever it had appeared before. This chapter ought to commence with the last three verses of the preceding one, “Behold my servant.” Thus Abarbanel begins it, and hath divided the whole into three parts; the first comprises the last three verses of chap. 52, the second part from verse 1-9, and the third part contains the last three verses,

4. That the prophet does not speak of himself, is allowed on all hands; and that he spake of the Messiah, will appear from the following considerations.

1. From the beginning to the end of this prophecy, there is but one and the same person spoken of.

2. He is characterized as the righteous servant of Jeho, vah; as a most innocent, blameless, and holy person, who deserved no punishment on his own account. ch. 52 : 13; ch. 53: 11.9.

3. His condition, from his birth to his death, is described as lower than any of the sons of men. Thus he is represented as a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief; as wounded and bruised to death; as judicially condemned and cut off out of the land of the living, pouring out his soul unto death, and put in his grave.

4. His sufferings and death are ascribed to the purpose and immediate hand of God. “Jehovah hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” ver. 6. “ It pleased Jehovah to bruise him; He hath put him to grief.” ver. 10.

60

5. The design of God in thus dealing with the person, was to inflict upon him the punishment due to our sins, that thereby he might accomplish the work of redemption. This is such an important article, that the prophet mentions it repeatedly in a variety of expressions. Verse 4, “Surely he hath born our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted ;"' ver. 5. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities, the chastisement of our peace was upon him : and with his stripes we are healed.Again, verse 6, • The Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” Again, verse 8, “For the transgression of my people was he stricken." Again, verse 10, “When thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin.” Again, verse 11, “ He shall bear their iniquities." Again, verse 12, " He bare the sin of many."

6. This sufferer is described as voluntarily putting him. self in the place of the guilty, to suffer in their stead; and when actually engaged in the work, he endured his sufferings with unparalleled patience. For though he was oppressed and afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth.” ver. 7.

7. That because of his humble, mean, and suffering condition, many would conclude that he was a deceiver, and therefore reject him, but would afterwards acknowledge their error. “Who has believed our report ? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed ? For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground; he has no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has born our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.” ver. 1-4. Yet after this person "was cut off out of the land of the living, and his grave made with the wicked,” ver. 8, 9, he shall live again, "and shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high,"

ch. 52: 13; "shall sprinkle many nations; the kings shall shut their mouth at him,” ver. 15; "he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hands, and he shall justify many.” ch. 53 : 10, 11. g 5. From the whole it

appears that some eminent person is here described, under the title of the servant of the Lord, who should go through much undeserved shame and suffering, even unto death, for the sake and benefit of other people, who should endure all indignities with the greatest meekness and patience, even offering up himself, of his own accord; and at last should be highly honored and exalted, in reward of his obedience, and see the success of all his sufferings in the justification of those whose iniquities he had borne, and in their admission to divide the spoil of his enemies, and enjoy a state of glory and happiness with him. Now, my dear Benjamin, let me ask, who could the person be to whom all these characters belonged, without any

strain or violence put upon the words, without any breach or violation of that unity which the whole contexture of the passage requires ?

$ 6. Surely it is not applicable to King Josiah, notwithstanding his piety. The expedition in which he fell at Megiddo, was no advantage to his character. It was rashly undertaken, not only without just provocation, but against the express warning and command of God. His death therefore was manifestly the punishment of his own sin and temerity ; much less had it the virtue of an expiation or atonement; it averted not the divine vengeance from our people, but left them exposed to the ravages of the Chaldeans, who, a few years after, led them captive into Babylon.

§ 7. No more is it applicable to Jeremiah the prophet. He was indeed remarkable for piety, zeal and faithfulness, and on that account was much hated and persecuted; stil! he is very far from answering the character of this prediction. He relates of himself, that he bore his sufferings very

« ZurückWeiter »