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was to come.
who consulted his oracles, dubious and hovering in what sense to understand them. God alone could instruct the prophets to foretell things at such a distance, especially considering some of them are supernatural, and others contingent from the wavering of second causes.
Now the several prophecies of Jesus Christ, if united together, make such an entire description of him, that they seem rather historical narratives of what is past, than predictions of what
According to the prophecies, he was born of a virgin, a branch of the almost extinguished family of David, born in Bethlehem, ushered in by a forerunner, meek, lowly, just, and a worker of miracles. Therefore, when John the Baptist sent some of his disciples to inquire, whether he was the Messiah that should come, our Saviour gave no direct answer in words, but referred them to his works, that gave a full and real testimony concerning him, “ Go tell John the things which ye do hear and see; the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them:" that comparing his miraculous operations for the recovery of human bodies, with the prophecies, there being a perfect agreement between them, and both undoubtedly from God, they might, by that clear and certain character, acknowledge him to be the promised Messiah. It is an observation of St. Austin, that the Son of God, foreseeing the perverse interpretations that his enemies would make use of to darken the lustre of his miracles, accusing him as a solemn magician that wrought by the force of enchantment, that such a false persuasion might not
prevail, sent the prophets before his coming into the world. From hence he argues, to repress those impious calumnies--if by magical arts he did such wonders as to conciliate divine honour to him, even since his death, was he a magician before he was born ?
And did he know the succession of all things in his life before he lived, that by an impossible miracle he predicted them to Moses, David, Isaiah, Daniel, and others ? Having thus argued, St. Austin turns himself to those infidels, as Christ to the “ Pharisees, looking round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts,” and said, “ O dead wretch, hear the prophets."
But above all, his death and passion (the substance of the Gospel) is most exquisitely drawn with the lines of his own blood. Daniel foretells the time, Dan. ix. 26. Zechariah, as if present at the execrable contract between Judas and the highpriests, tells us exactly the price of the treason, Zech. xi. 12. and then, as if transported to Calvary, he saw his side opened with the spear, and notes it in these words: “ They shall look on him whom they have pierced.” David, as if he stood at the foot of the cross in the hour of his suffering, relates the manner of them, in the person of our crucified Redeemer, Psalm xxii. “ They pierced my hands and my feet:" then the disjointing of his parts by the torture, “ I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me:" his hanging naked on the cross,
They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture:” the bitter draught they offered him, “ They gave me also gall for my meat, and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink :" the blas
phemous derision of the priests and people, the spectators of his death, “ All that see me, laugh me to scorn; they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, He trusted in the Lord that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him :" his words spoken in the height of his distress, " My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me ?” The prophet Isaiah represents the ignominy and torments of his passion, Isa. I. lii. liii. “ I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair ; I hid not my face from shame and spitting:" and by the eyes of his mind saw him crucified between two thieves, “ He was numbered with transgressors :” and as present at his most affectionate dying prayer for his enemies, “ Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do ;" observes, 6 that he made intercession for transgressors. Thus as several painters that would draw divers copies from the same excellent original, are intent to view its various aspects, some directly, some on this and the other side: so the prophets, as if they had been the spectators of his cruel sufferings, copied from the life, every one that part which the Holy Spirit assigned to them. Now, how was it possible, if not instructed by Omniscience, that being so distant in time and place, and so long before the accomplishment, they should concur in such an exact description of what should befal the Messiah ? Men are not prophets by the light of reason : nature is not subjected to their power to work miracles, neither is futurity open to their view, to compo a history of things to come.
The death of Christ depended on several causes: men, devils, and God
himself concurred for divers ends in the same event. The two prime conspirators against his life, Lucifer and Caiaphas, were moved both from reasons of state to secure their own. The devil, to maintain his cruel empire, which for so many ages he bad usurped in the world. For our Saviour having, with authority, cast out legions of his evil spirits from those who were miserably possessed by them, he was in fear of losing his power.
Besides, he foresaw that if Christ were the Son of God, the killing of him would bring such a crimson guilt upon the Jews, that no less punishment than their rejection would follow; and so God should lose his peculiar people. Caiaphas excited the council to devote him as a sacrifice to preserve their nation from ruin; for their safety depending ou their homage to the Romans, to prevent the jealousies that might arise by the fame of his mighty works, and by the people's attendance on him, that were fed by bis miracles, they concluded on it as a necessary expedient, that Christ should die, and all suspicions be removed with him. Thus men and devils were the instruments, but God appointed that great event. The storm fell from
him for our sins. It is, therefore, expressly said, “ he was delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God;" who overruled the train of disorders, the work of their cruel malice, for contrary ends than were designed by them; for the devils were cast out of their kingdom, the Jews deprived of their liberty, and the kingdom of Christ established for ever. Now, who could read in the mind of God his free decrees? Even the angels of light, that always see his face, cannot, without a re
velation of them. Nove " but the Spirit, that searches the deep things of God,” could make the discovery? And who could foresee that the Messiah, so often promised to the Jews, so impatiently expected, and ardently desired, should be so fiercely rejected by them? That his death should be the effect of his own love, so of their hatred ? None but God, to whom all the periods of time are equally present, and who is more intimate with the counsels and passions of men than their own souls are, could predict it.
He communicated some rays of his prescience to holy men, who foretold that obscurest contingency. From hence it follows, that the clear testimonies of the prophets, exactly fulfilled in Jesus Christ, are an unanswerable demonstration, that he was the expected Deliverer to restore the world.
2. The universal and irreparable destruction of the state of the Jews, foretold as the just punishment of their rejecting the Messiah, is another illustrious proof of the divinity of his person and doctrine.
The first desolation by the Chaldeans, so compassionately recorded by Jeremiah, was not comparable, in the degrees and continuance, to this second by the Romans, of which Christ himself was the chief mourner, and made lamentation. were transported together, and not to a very rigorous nor perpetual servitude in Babylon. After seventy years they recovered their liberty, and were restored to their native land. But in the last, the captives were dispersed among divers people; a sad prognostic that they should never be joined again in one society. The ruins of the nation were so