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and God takes occasion from that to renew his promise, and, for his more abundant consolation, to confirm it with an oath. To ascertain the full import of this glorious prophecy, it will be proper to enquire
I. Who is the seed here spoken of
It is not to all the natural descendants, or to that part of them that composed the Jewish nation, or even to the spiritual seed of Abraham, that these words refer: they speak of one particular individual, the Lord Jesus Christ.
1. To him all the types direct our attention
[The temple with all its utensils, the priests with all their habits and services, the sacrifices and oblations of every kind, all shadowed forth his work and offices. The principal events in the Jewish history, together with the great persons engaged in them, their lawgiver, their commanders, judges, kings, and prophets, prefigured him in different points of view, and, as so many lines, meet in him as their common centre. On this account we have reason to think that the prophecy before us relates to him.]
2. In him all the prophecies receive their accomplish
[However some of the prophecies might be partially fulfilled in Solomon or others, it is certain that all of them together were never accomplished in any one but Jesus. They were intended to designate HIM, that, when he should arrive, there might be no doubt of his being the very person foreordained of God to be the Saviour of the world. The minute description of the promised Messiah, together with the marvellous combination of circumstances that marked Jesus as the person foretold, lead us further to believe that the text had particular respect to him.]
3. To him exclusively the text is applied by God himself
[St. Paul tells us that the blessing of Abraham was to come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; and that the words of the text related, not to others, but to Christ alone ".]
This point being ascertained, let us enquire
II. In what respect all nations are blessed in him
The full accomplishment of the text will not take place till that glorious period when the knowledge of the Lord shall
shall cover the earth, as the waters cover the sea. Yet, in a limited sense, all nations have experienced the truth of this prophecy already
1. They are reconciled to God through him
[Christ died not for one nation only; he was a propitiation for the sins of the whole world. Many of all nations have already believed in his name, and rejoiced in his salvation : and in every place they who believe in him shall find acceptance with their God .]
2. They are united in one body in him
[He has broken down the middle wall of partition that divided the Jewish and Gentile world, and, having reconciled both unto God in one body by the cross, he has slain the enmity thereby . All mankind are now brought into one family, and are taught to regard each other as brethren: and in proportion as the religion of Jesus gains the ascendant over our hearts, we are united in love to every member of his mystical body.]
3. They are blessed with all spiritual blessings
[There is not any thing that can conduce to our present or future happiness which Jesus will not bestow on his believing people. Adoption into his family, peace in our consciences, holiness in our hearts, and an eternity of glory in the Father's presence, are the certain portion of all his faithful followers. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile; all are admitted to the same privileges, and all shall participate the same enjoyments.]
1. The antiquity of the gospel
[The sum and substance of the gospel is, that Christ is the only source of all spiritual and eternal blessings. Wherever this truth is strongly urged, men are ready to cry out against it as a new doctrine. But we can trace it, not only to the reformers of our church, but to the apostles, yea to Abraham also for St. Paul declares, that when God spake the words to Abraham, he "preached the gospel to him," even that very gospel, whereby he and all the nations of the earth must be saved. Let this truth then no longer be reviled as novel, but be received as the one ground of all our hopes.]
2. The importance of faith
[Abraham's faith in this gospel was imputed to him for righteousness; and by believing the same divine record we also must be justified. No doctrine whatever is more explicitly
explicitly declared in scripture than this. Let us then acknowledge the necessity of faith, and look to the Lord Jesus Christ as that promised seed, through whom alone the blessings of Abraham can flow down upon us.]
3. The connexion between faith and works
[Faith was that principle which produced in Abraham such exemplary obedience: and the same root will bear similar fruits wheresoever it exists. Indeed the pardon of past sins would be utterly insufficient to make us happy, if it were not accompanied with the renovation of our natures. To this effect St. Peter expounded, as it were, the very words of the text, declaring to the Jews, that conversion from sin was one of the first blessings which the Lord Jesus was sent to bestowk. Let us then not consider faith and works as opposed to each other, but as possessing distinct offices, the one to justify our souls, the other to honour God, and to manifest the sincerity of our faith.]
h Heb. xi. 17.
i Acts xv. 9.
* Acts iii. 25, 26.
CXLIX. CHRIST THE TRUE SHILOH.
Gen. xlix. 10. The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come: and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.
THERE was a series of predictions relative to the Messiah from the very beginning of the world; and, as the time for the accomplishment of the prophecies drew near, the predictions concerning him were more particular and minute. About seventeen hundred years before his appearance, the time of his coming was fixed with great accuracy and precision. At the very first moment that the sons of Jacob were made heads of many different tribes, it was foretold, that the continuance of Judah's power should extend beyond that of the tribes, and that the Messiah should arrive before its expiration. In explaining this prophecy we shall of necessity be led to speak of
I. The time of his advent
This, according to the text, was to precede the departure of Judah's sceptre
[Judah is here represented as a lion gorged with his prey, VOL. II.
and couching in his den with a sceptre between his feet; a sceptre, which none should ever wrest from him, until he should come, whose right it was ". "The sceptre" does not import dominion over the other tribes, but only the same kind of separate and independent jurisdiction, which was vested in Dan, and in all the other tribes". Nor does the term lawgiver" mean a person who should enact laws; but rather, one who should execute and enforce them. Moses was the only lawgiver of the Jews; and even the kings were required to write a copy of his law, and to obey it in all things. Now it was here foretold, that this particular power should remain with Judah after that, the other tribes should have been deprived of theirs; and that it should continue vested in persons belonging to that tribe till the Messiah should come. The precise import of the term "Shiloh" is not certainly known; but it is thought by most to mean, The Peace-maker. All however are agreed that, it is a name for the Messiah, whose advent was to precede the dissolution of the Jewish polity.]
The event exactly corresponded with the prediction
[The ten tribes were spoiled of their power when they were carried captive to Assyria. But the tribe of Judah retained both their ecclesiastical and civil polity even in Babylon. If they did not exercise it to the same extent as before, they had by no means wholly lost it. As they had possessed it in Egypt, and retained it the whole time of their Egyptian. bondage, so they still nominated their priests and elders, yea and appointed fasts and feasts, while they were oppressed with the-Chaldæan yoke. Their bondage in Babylon was indeed, on the whole, exceeding heavy; but many of them were suffered to build houses and plant gardens, and to live rather as a colony than as slaves. On their return from Babylon, their own chiefs and elders were appointed to superintend the execution of Cyrus' decree; and, after that period, they continued to enjoy their privileges till the time of our Lord's advent. Soon after that, they were reduced to the state of a Roman province; but still exercised the same powers, only in a more limited manner. But, forty years after the death of Christ, when his gospel had been fully preached, and people of all nations had been gathered to him, their city and temple were utterly destroyed; and they themselves were dispersed into all lands. From that time their sceptre has utterly
Exod. xxxiv. 31, 32.
& See Sherlock's 3d Dissertation, p. 346. 6th edition.
e Jer. xxix. 5, 7.
Compare John xviii. 3, and 31.
f Ezra i. 5, 8.
utterly departed from them; nor can the smallest vestige of their former power be traced. They are therefore living proofs throughout the whole world that their Messiah is indeed come.]
The time of Christ's advent being thus clearly ascertained, let us consider
II. The consequences of it
The last clause of the text is by some applied to Judah, to whom the tribe of Benjamin was attached, and the few of the other ten tribes, who returned after their dispersion by the Assyrians, were gathered". But the sense of that clause is both more clear, and infinitely more important, as applied to Shiloh. And, if it be understood, may well be, as a further limitation of the time beyond which Judah should not retain this power, it will mark, with most astonishing accuracy, the precise period at which his sceptre was to depart.
But, taking it according to its general acceptation, it declares the calling of the Gentiles to the knowledge of Christ
[The scriptures speak much upon this glorious subject. Without noticing the innumerable passages that declare God's intention to convert the Gentiles, we will confine our attention to two or three that speak of it almost in the very same terms as those in the text. Isaiah, representing Christ as standing for an ensign to the people, says, " to him shall the Gentiles seek, and his rest shall be glorious ." There was a remarkable prophecy to the same effect unwittingly uttered by Caiaphas the high-priest. While he designed nothing more than to instigate the Jews to destroy Jesus, God overruled his mind to declare that Jesus should die for the whole world, and should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad. Our Lord himself also foretelling the same glorious event, said, " I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto me1." Nor is only the mere circumstance of their conversion declared in the text; the manner also of their coming to him is strongly intimated. They" shall be a willing people in the day of God's power," and as the prophet describes at large, shall fly to him as a cloud, or as doves to their windowsm.]
This part of the prediction also has received, and is daily receiving, its accomplishment
* John xi. 52.