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Here then' are two diftin&t promises or prophecies. Both of them literal; and both of them in due time literally accomplished.
To thew that the prophet's own son was, most probably, in the latter prophecy, intended and pointed at; let it be observed, (1.) That here is the He emphatic, or demonftrative, prefixed to the word Nachar: and it is faid (Hanachar, This child). (2.) As much must be fupposed, in the interpretation of other passages of Scripture, as that of the prophet's laying his hand upon his lon, or pointing to him; or Thewing, by fonie action at the time of 1pcaking, that he meant his own fon. So, when our blessed Lord declared “ that one of his own disciples would betray him ;" Peter beckoned to John, to ask who it was? Then John, leaning near the bosom of Jefus, and speaking softly to him, faid, “ Lord, “ which of us is it?” Jesus replied, foftly and so as St. John alone might hear, “ He it is, to whom I shall give the fop, when I have
dipped it.” And presently, dipping the sop, he gave it openly to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon [John xiii. 21, &c.]. So again ; when our Lord had driven the buyers and sellers out of the temple, and cleansed that holy place, the Jews were displeased, and said, " What sign do you thew, that you do these things ?" What proof “ do you give of a prophetic, or extraordinary, miffion ; that
you “ take upon you to do such extraordinary things ?" By way of answer, our Lord is commonly and justly suppored to have pointed to his own body; or to have laid his hand in a solemn manner uponi his breast, to intimate that he was speaking of his own body; thoughi, in allusion to the temple, which he had just cleansed, he calls it this temple ;-using such an action (I say) our Lord answered, “ De
stroy this temple ; and, in three days, I will raise it up again." [John ii. 13, &c.]. (3.) Unless you suppose that lsaiah laid his hand upon his own little fon, or pointed to him, when he spoke to the king, the divine order for taking his son along with him (ver. 3.), will have no meaning; but be an idle and superfluous circumstance in the history of these remarkable prophecies.
After I had fixed upon this interpretation of the two prophecies, Ifai. vii. 14, &c. I found that Bishop Chandler had mentioned it, and said some very proper things in support of it. And [in his Defence of Christianity, p. 329.] he hath this marginal note. “ Since I writ this, I find the most learned Archbishop Usher, in “ his annal [A. M. 3262] to be in the laine cpinion ; viz. that the
prophet spoke of two children. And, when he passed from “ Emanuel to Shcar-jahub, he demonstrated him with his finger. “ Malvenda, also an interpreter of the first rank, applies what “ Isaiah has said (ver, 15, 16.) to Shear-jashub.”
Bithop Chandler goes on in the following manner : “ The original .“ word' Alma, as learned men have proved, signifies constantly 4 “ virgin untainted by inan*. The Greek tranllators before Chrift, . “ Alma, non folum puella, vel virgo, fed cum imitron virgo abscondita dicitur & " secreta, quæ nunquam virorum patuerit affe&ibus ; fed magna parenum diliger rii “ cuftodita Tuerit. Linguâ quoque Punica, que de Hebræorum fontibus emanare dicitur, « propriè virgo alma apellatur.” (Hieron. comment, ia 11. libIII. c. 7. F. Simoa's Critical Hift. of ihe New Testament, Part II. p. 43.)
" who were not interested in the controversy, and who knew better “ the signification of Hebrew words than any Jew since their last
dispersion, render alma so in this place. And the prophet must dis
appoint his hearers exceedingly, after so pompous an introduction, " and so important a name, to mean no more at last, by a virgin's.
conceiving, than that a young woman should be with child.
" What! doth Isaiah offer Ahaz a miracle in the heavens, or on " the grave? And, when he seems to tell them that God, of his “ own motion, would do a greater work than they could ask, does " he sink to a lign, that nature produces every day? Is that to be bi called a wonder (an uncommon, surprizing, supernatural event), " which happens constantly, by the ordinary laws of generation? " How little doth such a birth come up to the solemn preparation, “ which Isaiah uses, to raise their expectation of some great mat“ ter? - Hear ye, O house of David;---behold the Lord himself will give you a sign,' worthy of himself. Well, what is it?"
Why, “ a young married woman shall be with child !--Their patience " would not have lasted to have heard him out. They must have. “ thought that he came to insult their misery, rather than to com “ fort them under it.
“ From considering, therefore, the occasion and the importance “ of the message, the weight and the force of the words in which “ it was delivered, they and we ought to understand that the birth
here foretold did not relate to an ordinary child. St. Matthew, " after Jesus was fo born of a virgin, had good reason for writing, " that then this (remarkable) prophecy of Ilaiah was fulfilled.”
(4.) Some may suppose that another instance of double sentes may be found, Matth. ii. 15. Jesus Aed into Egypt, "6 until the “ death of Herod ; that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by “ the prophet, saying, “Out of Egypt have I called my son.” Which words are found, Hol. xi. 1. but there relate evidently to the nation of Israel, and are not a prediction of what was to come, but an historical account of what was past long ago.
When Ifrael was. a child, then I loved him, and " called my son out of Egypt;" '-they facrificed unto Baalin, and burned incense to graven
images, &c.' Now, it may be thought by some that " calling our “ Saviour out of Egypt” was the mystical, spiritual meaning of these words, intended by the prophet Hofea, or by the Spirit of God which inspired him; though the literal sense referred to the nation of Israel.
But, if they are no prophecy in Hofea, St Matthew's quoting the words cannot make them a prophecy. Nor is there any reason to think that St. Matthew understood them as a prediction.
Whoever is acquainted with the Jewish phraseology, or manner of quotation, knows very well, that they sometimes decla:ed " such or * such a saying to'be fulfilled,” when the words were mere accoinmodations, or could properly express their meaning
It is true; that manner of speaking sounds oddly in our language. But we must remember that they did not write in Englith; and that every nation Vol. IV. Kk
has its own idioms, phrafes, and forms of exprellion. (See Dr. Sykes's Essay upon the tfuth of the Christian Religion, p. 206, &c.]
There were four ways, in which the Jews used this or the like expreffion [“ such a prophet's words, or fuch and fach texts of • Scripture, are fulfilled"]. (1.) They Sometimes meant by it, that the prediction of a prophet was literally accomplishad. (2.) That the cases were parallet, or a fimiles event happened; or that there was a remarkable agreement, in several circumstances, between former and later things. (3.) That a general rule, or saying, was applicable to a particular cale. Just as we say, upon several occafions,“ The old proverb is made good.” Or, " the old faying is veri"fied.” (4.) The Jews often used fuch expreffions, when they meant no more than “ that the words of Holy Scripture, or of “ fome ancient prophet, might be aptly accommodated to the case " in hand; or were very proper to express their prefent meaning." Passages from Jewifh authors might be alledged to confirm this, And the rule for us to examine any such text by is plain and obvious. " Go to the place referred to. Examine it according to " the rules of grammar or thetoric, and as it ftands in connection. * From thence we may gather its original meaning in the Old “ Teftament; and cahly see how it is quoted in the New Testa
From fuch an examination it plainly appears, that the words of Hosea, as quoted by St. Matthew, are a mere accommodation ; and alledged only to express the present event. And there cau be no reason mentioned why St. Matthew, who was a Jew, might not express himself in their usual forms.--Bui that need not lead us inte any difficulty; nor is this passage any proof of a double sense of Holy Scripture. The expreffion had but one fenfe in Holea; and it has only one sense, as made ute of, by the evangelift St. Matthew.
(5.) Our Lord's celebrated prophecy i Matth. xxiv. 1-35.] does not relate to the day of judgemaent; but to the dettruction of Jerus falem; and to that alone.
The reason why it has been fuppofe that our Lord is there speaking, at all, of the day of judgement, is what is said, ver. 27
" that the sun shall be darkened, and the moon not give her ** light, and the stars fall from breaven, and the powers of beaveti « shall be shaken. Then shall appear the sign of the son of man & in hcaven : and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn. " And they shall see the son of man coming in the clouds of heaver * with power and great glory. And he thall send his angels with
a great sound of a trumpet; and they shall gather together bis “ elect, from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the * other.”
“ The coming of the son of man” does, indeed, very often fignify his coming to the judgement of the latt day. But, by " the coming 6 of the Lord" is, in fome texts of Scripture, meant his coming to inflict any great and remarkable judgement, either immediately, or by any of his creatures (See on james v. 8.]. And “ his com
* ing, in the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory,” is a plain allufion to Dan. vii. 13, 14. which bishop Chandler judiciously app:ies to our Saviour's, receiving the investiture in his new dignity at the hands of God, or the entering upon the exercise of his universal and everlasting kingdom. Clouds are a knowni • symbol of heaven, and of divine power and majesty. And the * afcribing this fymbol to one like the son of man is a declaration • of " the supreme magnificence, and authority, which God thall * give that lon- of man, the Messiah :” saith that eminent Jew,
Saadiahi Gaon. (See Bishop Chandler's Defence of Christianity, p. 128, &ć. Pearfon on the Creed, Art. 7. p. 293. Mr. Lowmali on Rev. i. 7.]. Sir Isaac Newton likewise [in his Chapter of the Prophetic Language) says, ' The heavens, and the things therein,
fignify thrones and dignities. And riding on the clouds is put ' for reigning over much people. Our Saviour, therefore, in prophetic language, foretells that all power should be given unto him, both in heaven and upon earth ; and, when destruction was coming upon his enemies and murtherers, then should all the tribes of the land mourn, and see evident signs of Jesus's being invested with great power and glory; which he would make use of, to take yene geance on his enemies, and to deliver his own people out of their diftreffes.
It may be further observed, that at the last judgement the stars shall not literally fall from heaven, nor the general conflagration reach beyond this globe and its atmosphere. Dr. Clarke has very well paraphrased ver. 29. “ For, immediately after these fatal wars, and * the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, the whole Jewish
polity, government, laws, and religion, shall be utterly destroyed." And Sit Ifaac Newton, in his chapter of the prophetic language, confirms Dr. Clarke's interprctation. For he says, that, in facred • prophecy, the darkening, smiting, or setting of the fun, moon, • and stars, is put for the ceasing of a kingdom, or for the desola
tion thereof, proportional to the darkness. Darkening the sun, 4 turning the moon into blood, and falling of the stars, for the same.'
Ver. 30, 31. “And then it will become evident, that Jesus was " the true and only Meriah. And then shall all the tribes of the “ land [of Ifrael) lament and mourn, and be forced to acknow. “ ledge the power, and glory, and majesty, of Christ, who will send " forth his apostles into the world, who (as it were with the “ found of a trumpet) shall gather into one body all those that be*. lieve and obey his gospel from all the nations of the earth."
If Dr. Clarké had stopped here, I apprehend that his interpretar tion would have been jutt. But he then proceeds to apply the same passages to the day of judgement, notwithstanding our Saviour's express declarion, “ Verily I say unto you, This generation fhall not « pass away, till all these things are fulfilled.” As if he had said, “ All " that goes before relates to the destruction of Jerusalem, and the " desolation which is coming upon the nation of the Jews. I have
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"Ino regard, in all that I have hitherto said, to the general judge
ment of mankind at the last day; but to events which thall all come to pass before this generation Shall pass away.”
To take away the force of this argument, some have supposed that yereà finifies not an age, but a nation. [See Mr. Jofeph Mede's Works, p. 752. Brennii amica disputat. cum Jud. p. 90.]. And that, here, it denotes “ the Jewish nation, which thould not perish có till all these things were fulfilled.” But yeved signifies an age, in very many places of the Septuagint. So “one generation” signifies one age.
”Pfal. cix. 13. Ecclef. i. 4. Isai. xxxiv. 17. “Another “ generation" signifies “ another age,
" the children that should “ rise up after them.” Deut. xxix. 22. Jud. ii. 10. Psal. xlviii. 13. and lxxviii. 4. 6. and cii. 18. and cxlv. 4.
“ From generation to “ generation” signifies “ from age to age.” Ifa. li. 8. Lam. v. 19. Dan. iv. 34: Joel iii. 20.“ All the generation” signifies “ all the
men of that age.” Nunib. xxxii. 13. Deut. ii. 14. “ The fourth “ generation” signifies the fourth race, or succession of men, from as the time then present.” Gen. xv. 16. Job xlii. 16, “ The tenth “ generation” signifies " the tenth age, or race of men, from the " time then spoken of.” Deut. xxiii. 3. “A thousand generations” fignifies“ one thousand ages.”. Psal. cv. 8. “ Many generations” fignifies “ many ages.” Pfal. Ixi. 6. lfa. lviii. 12. and lx. 15. Joel ii. 2. “ All generations” fignifies " every age.”
every age.” Pfal, xlv. 17. and xlix. u. and lxxxv. 5. and lxxxix. 1. and xc. 1, and c. s. and cii. 12. 24. and cvi. 31. and cxix. 90. and cxxxv. 13. and cxlvi.
And this generation” significs this age,” or “ this present “ race of men.” Gen. vii. 5.--More such authorities might be collected from the Seventy,
In the New Testament, “ a generation" fignifies one age.” Matth. i.-17. Luke i. 48. 50. Aets xiii. 36. and xiv. 16. and xv. 21. Eph. iii. 5. Col. i. 26. And“ this generation" signifies " this
age.” Matth. xi. 16. and xii. 41, 42. 45. and xxiii. 36. Mark viji. 12. 38. Luke vii. 31. and xi. 29, 30, 31, 32. 50, 51. and xvii. 25.-- More such authorities might be collected from the New Testainent. Now, why thould not yeven (a generation] be taken in its usual signification in this place; especially as, in that fensc, it contains a plain aniwer to the question of the disciples ? But, if it be interpreted of the Jewith nation, it is no answer at all.
Our Lord had just been talking with some of his disciples con-cerning the demolishing of the buildings of the temple, which were strong and magnificent. And they aiked him, " When shall these “ things be? and what shall be the fign of thy coming, and of the ** end of the world?”
le is potible what the disciples might think that these events would Gome to pats at or near the same period of time. But, though they might be confuted in their notions concerning the time, and imagine that these events would happen together, or very foon after one another, our Lord appears to me to have confidered them as