« PoprzedniaDalej »
was that concerning the death of the Jewish king, Zedekiah. Jeremiah prophesied in Jerusalem, at the same time in which Ezekiel prophesied in Babylon, and concerning the same events. The prophecies of Jeremiah were sent to the captives in Babylon, and those of Ezekiel to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. In their prophecies concerning the captivity and death of Zedekiah, they embraced most minute circumstances in such a manner, that they were thought to contradict each other; by this seeming disparity, the attention of the multitude was excited to mark the fulfilment of their prophecies. Compare Jer. 34. 2-7. and Ezek. xii. 13. Jeremiah announced that he should see the king of Babylon, and be carried to Babylon: Ezekiel declared that he should not see Babylon Jeremiah announced that he should die in peace, and be buried after the manner of his ancestors : Ezekiel prophesied that he should die a captive in Babylon. Now these apparent discrepancies are all perfectly harmonized in the literal fulfilment of every particular part: for in the first place, Zedekiah saw the king of Babylon, who commanded that his eyes should be put out before he was carried to Babylon: In the next place, he died in Babylon, in peace, upon his bed, and was allowed the funeral solemnities which it had been customary to observe for the former kings of Judah. See Jer. xxxix. 4, 7. II. Kings xxv. 6, 7. Thus both their predictions, which before were thought to be at variance, were so fully and minutely fulfilled in every particular, that the Jews felt the strongest confidence that these prophets were both divinely inspired by the unerring wisdom of Heaven.
While the prophet Ezekiel was a captive in the land of the Chaldeans, he prophesied that those of his countrymen who were left in Judea should suffer the most severe chastisements for their wickedness: he announced that one third of them should die by pestilence and famine; that another third should fall by the sword, and that those who remained should be scattered to the four winds, and that even in their dispersion, a sword should follow them! And only a few years elapsed before all these evils overtook them, according to the literal import of the prediction, and were inflicted by the instrumentality of the Chal
deans. The evidence of these facts may be seen by consulting Ezekiel, 5th and 8th chapters, and Prideaux's Connexions, vol. i. pages 80-84, 8th edition.
The manner in which the Jewish temple should be profaned by Antiochus Epiphanes, as well as the death of that headstrong prince, together with a description of his temper, and even of the peculiar countenance by which he was distinguished, were clearly foretold by the prophet Daniel, more than 400 years before the prediction receiv ed its accomplishment; as may be seen by consulting the 8th chapter of his prophecy. Daniel likewise foretold, in the 9th chapter, 26th and 27th verses, of his prophecy, the destruction of the city of Jerusalem; the general desolation, not only of the city, but of all the land of Judea, together with the final cessation of the sacrifices and oblations of the Jews. The accomplishment of all these predictions is clearly and fully attested by the faithful pages of Roman and Jewish history. The prophet Hosea, who died before the Babylonish captivity, clearly pointed out the present condition of the Jewish nation, in the following remarkable words-remarkable, I say, because they apply so plainly and forcibly to their present stateThey shall be wanderers," says he, among the nations." See chapter ix. 17.
These are only a few predictions, out of about two hundred, which relate directly to the Jews and Israelites, together with other descendants of Abraham, and which constitute such an essential part of the Jewish records.— If these prophecies, and prophetical writings can be overthrown, the whole Jewish history must be consigned to oblivion. But they have defied the attacks of all ages, and are far better attested than the records of any ancient nation upon the face of the whole earth. Hence the truth of prophecy and inspiration defies the combined efforts of all its enemies, and instructs its faithful disciples to pity the deception, and pray for the enlightening of all its deluded and misguided opposers.
HEBREWS i. 1, 2.
"God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things."
Although the miraculous generation of Jesus Christ is most sincerely believed by your speaker, still it will not be the subject of minute and labored discussion in these lectures, since it is not a point on which the credibility of the history of the birth, ministry, miracles, labors, death and resurrection of the Saviour depends. That he is the Son of God, is acknowledged in the creeds of all who assume the name of Christians, or who profess to depend on the divine inspiration of the writings of the New Testament. It is therefore deemed unnecessary to call your attention to those parts of scripture history which are not absolutely susceptible of the most plain and positive proof; such as shall defy the arts and evasions of skepticism, and place the most prominent and important facts of the history of Christ beyond the power of reasonable and historical contradiction. The facts on which we are about to remark, were not removed to some remote corner of the earth, or to the limits of an empire which has long since been consigned to the shades of oblivion, or whose history has been lost in the rubbish of antique fable: But they are facts which transpired under the powerful sway of imperial Rome; when, in point of prosperity, she was at the very zenith of her glory, and when she held dominion over more than half of the whole globe.
The remotest parts of Asia had bowed before her standards; diadems were disposed according to the pleasure of her emperors; and her proud eagles had extended their wings even over the British Isles, which, in the familiar language of scripture, was designated as "the ends of the
earth." The most powerful and polished nations of the earth acknowledged her sovereignty, and trembled at the stern mandates of her power.
At a period, when a general impression prevailed throughout the eastern world, that some extraordinary personage would soon make his appearance among men, and establish a new and more happy form of government; we date the welcome birth and glorious entry of the "Prince of Peace" into our world.
That such were the anticipations of the whole Jewish nation, is too evident to admit of a single doubt. The patriarch Jacob, whose predictions Moses had long since recorded, taught them to expect that the Shiloh -should come, ere the sceptre departed from Judah, or a lawgiver from between his feet.
When the intelligence of the singular star, which was seen in the east, was communicated to Herod by the wise men, he called the chief priests and scribes of the Jews, and demanded of them where Christ should be born. This question, it appears, they readily answered, and informed him that it was evident that the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem of Judea. They were led to this conclusion by the prophecy of Micah, who lived more than 700 years before Christ; and who designated Bethlehem, as the place of the Saviour's birth. This fact will appear evident, by comparing Micah v. 2; with St. Matt. ii. 5, 6
Having settled the question, where the Saviour was to be born, according to prophetic authority, and shown that the Jewish doctors anticipated that the birth of the Messiah would be in Bethlehem, we shall now attend to the time of his birth, and show by prophetic authority that he was expected at about the period in which he made his appearance.
The Babylonian and Jerusalem Talmudists, in fixing the time of the Messiah's birth, place it about 4000 years from the creation. The Babylonian Doctors supposed that Messias would be born about four hundred years after the destruction of the first Temple, as may be seen by consulting the dissertation of Dr. Lightfoot on the time of Christ's birth. This calculation of the Babylonian Doctors, which placed the coming of Christ about one
hundred years earlier than the true period of his birth, will readily account for the general expectation which every where prevailed, for a considerable time before the event transpired. But the testimony on which the whole Jewish nation placed their principal reliance, was that which was contained in the prophecy of Daniel, 9th chap. concerning the seventy weeks, which, according to the custom of prophet reckoning, a day for a year, would fix the Messiah's birth at a distance of about four hundred and ninety years from the close of the Babylonish captivity.
This period arrived, and the whole nation was anxiously looking for the appearance of the illustrious Prince, by whom they anticipated a speedy and glorious deliverance from all their oppressions. The preaching of John the Baptist drew the attention of the doctors and public functionaries of the Jewish nation, and excited the inquiry, whether he were the Christ, or whether they should look for another-for they evidently esteemed John as a great prophet. These are not the only facts with which we are furnished in Scripture, in relation to this event. The appearance of a singular star, or luminous body, was alluded to by Balaam, more than fifteen hundred years before, when he beheld in prophetic vision, the future glory of the house of Jacob, under the triumphant reign of the Prince of Peace. The singular prophecy of Balaam seems to have been preserved by the Chaldeans, Persians, Mesopotamians and Idumeans; and from the best evidences which we can gather out of the ancient records and traditions, other nations, as well as the Jews, were looking for the appearance of an extraordinary person, or Ruler, among the descendants of Jacob.
I shall here notice a few evidences that such an expectation was not peculiar to the Jews. Seutonius, a Roman historian, says, that " an ancient and settled persuasion prevailed throughout the east, that the Fates had decreed some one to proceed from Judea, who should attain universal empire. This persuasion, which the event proved" (as this writer supposes,) "to respect the Roman Emperor, the Jews applied to themselves and therefore rebelled." But the inconsistency of applying this settled and