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HAVING thus taken a cursory view of the general declarations and predictions of the old Testament, with the detailed events foretold therein; and having given the promises, the types, the figures and the shadows of the first coming in the flesh of our divine Redeemer, when the fulness of time should come, fully held up therein, it is time to proceed further, in order to see how far those ideas are corroborated and fulfilled in the new.
Agreeably to the divine predictions, when the appointed time came, and the sixty-second week of Daniel's prophecy drew near, Jesus Christ the great end and anti-type, was born a babe at Bethlehem, an inconsiderable city in the tribe of Judah.
Before his birth, he was announced by an angel to his virgin mother, and in a dream to his reputed father Joseph.-At his birth, the angelic host appeared in glory to the shepherds, and revealed to them the stupendous event.-A star in the east, and the destruction of the children by Herod, both, in opposite ways, declared the fulfilment of the ancient
prophecies. True it is, that this mighty Prince and Saviour appeared in a state of the lowest humiliation and contrary to the universal expectation of the men of the world, who believing the predictions relating to the time of his appearance to be near their end, were in hopes of a temporal prince and conqueror, who should raise their dejected nation, now prostrate under the Roman yoke, to the height of opulence and power.
But if this had not been his state and circumstances, what would have become of the hopes and confidence of the true Israelite, who was like Simeon looking for the consolation of Israel, in the fulfilment of the divine predictions?-How could the babe of Bethlehem have otherwise grown up before Him, as a tender plant, and as a root out of dry ground?
How could he have answered the prophetic predictions of having no form or comeliness; and that they who saw him, should not perceive any beauty to make him desirable?-How could he otherwise have been despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief? How in any other circumstances could he have borne our griefs and carried our sorrows? or been esteemed stricken of God and afflicted?
It was only in this state of humiliation, that he could possibly have been wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities, or the chastisement by which our peace was effected, been laid upon him; or that by his stripes we could have been healed.
How, otherwise, could he have been taken from prison and from judgment, or been cut off out of the land of the living? In this manner, alone, could he have made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death. It was in this way, it pleased the Lord to bruise him and put him to grief, that as he voluntarily made his soul an offering for sin, he should see his seed, prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord should prosper in his hands-In this way, only, could he see the travail of his soul and be satis fied.
If all this is said to be so unnatural, so unexpected, and contrary to all human reasoning, is it not a greater evidence of the divinity and the truth of the doctrines, that notwithstanding it should be foreseen and expressly foretold by mere men, who assumed no particular wisdom or knowledge of future events, but as they received an explicit revelation of them from the God of Israel, who thereby showed to his church what would take place for thousands of years to come, in order that when they did happen, it should be known, that there was no other God beside him?
Let us then examine the life and declarations of Jesus Christ, who thus appears (to say no more in the present instance) to have come in fulfilment of these ancient prophecies, and to be clothed with a divine mission from the Father, and see if he has by himself and his Apostles, continued this well organized system, this regular thread of predictions and
events, pointing to the still greater object we have in view, his second coming in glory. Though the Old Testament is full to this purpose, yet if I have not greatly misapprehended it, the New Testament will furnish us with additional, if not clearer light on this interesting subject, and that from the many facts declared and foretold by Christ himself, by which this important end of his administration is to be accomplished.
If it is previously asked why so essential a doctrine of the christian faith, should not have been more explicitly taught and insisted upon by the great author of our holy religion and his apostles, without shadow or figure? I answer, it would be sufficient with every humble and christian spirit, thus was the will of that God who ruleth over all, and giveth not an account of his conduct to any man. But I hope before we have finished, to show that this doctrine is as clearly and explicitly taught by Christ and his apostles, as any doctrine of the gospel, and is insisted on, as the great sum and end of the christian's hope, and the ultimate reward of all his sufferings for Christ's sake, in as full a manner, as the nature of man and the then state of the world would admit of.
Is it not also obvious to the serious enquirer, that our Lord and master treated all men as rational creatures and free agents, accountable for all their conduct? He laid constraint on no man's actions.Had he openly declared the full extent of his kingdom, all the circumstances of his second coming in
glory, and the full meaning of all the intermediate events, so as to have been clearly understood by all men in their utmost consequences, in the first place, he would have left no opportunity to have proved the faith of his people and their reliance on his veracity and faithfulness-again, in all human probability, if we judge from what has already happened, he would have had no better success with an unbelieving world, than he already has had, with regard to those great principles and facts, which were necessary most explicitly to declare, that his divine mission and nature might be fully proved, so as to satisfy every one who was seriously desirous of knowing the truth.
Besides the natural consequences of unbelief and hardness of heart in men at large, he would have raised the whole opposition of the Roman government against his followers, as opposers of the then civil establishment of the empire, and would have unnecessarily increased the natural enmity of mankind against him and his doctrines; but even had it proved otherwise, and the greatest part of the world had been convinced by his more positive declarations, then opposers might have endeavored to avoid some things foretold by the prophets, and to have accomplished others, in a way destructive of the evidence provided by the whole plan and economy of revelation.-In short, the system established by divine prescience is in itself complete in all its parts from the beginning of the world, and will not admit of