« PreviousContinue »
spirit of prophecy is universally the testimony of Jesus.”
Indeed, our Lord himself appeals to the spirit of prophecy as bearing witness to his person and dispensation: Search the Scriptures, he said to the Jews, for in them ye think ye have eternal life, and they are they which testify of me': and, in that memorable discourse which he held with his disciples after his resurrection, he gave convincing proofs to how great an extent He was himself the subject of all the preceding revelations of God, when beginning at Moses and all the prophets he expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself". And the Apostles, both in their public discourses to the people, and in their writings, are frequent and explicit in their appeals to the prophecies of the Old Testament, and in their assertions, that the Redeemer and his everlasting kingdom constitute the spirit of prophecy, and the great and
. Ib. p. 31. “To speak of prophecy (Bishop Hurd observes) under the idea of a testimony to, or concerning Jesus, is conforming to the true scriptural idea of that gift. Thus we are told that—to him (i. e. to Jesus) give all the prophets witness-TOÚTW πάντες προφήται μαρτυρούσιν, Acts X. 43. Prophecy, therefore, being the thing here spoken of, is rightly called the testimony, or witness, to, or concerning Jesus.” “And the construction (as the learned Prelate further observes) is fully justified, 1, by oh. serving, that the genitive case (as here Incoû) is frequently used in Scripture, not actively, but passively. See a variety of instances in Mede, Works, p. 771, where he explains òiòaokaliai daljoviwv: and 2, by referring the reader to the following passages of St Paul, where the very expression of the text is So used, μη ούν επαισχυνθης το μαρ
τύριον του Κυρίου ημων-clearly, be not ashamed of bearing testimony to our Lord, 2 Tim.i. 8; and to Rev. i. 9, where the Apostle tells us, he was in the isle of Patmos, – δια τον λόγον του θεού, και δια την μαρτυρίαν Ιησού Xplotoū—on account of having been faithful in preaching the word of God, and in bearing testimony to Jesus Christ; and still more plainly, Rev. xii. 17.-των τηρούντων τας εντολάς του θεού, και την μαρτυρίαν του Ιησού Χριστου: where the persons who are described as being the objects of the dragon's fury are the WITNESSES, those faithful servants of truth, who suffered for the courageous and persevering testimony they gave, in evil times, to Jesus Christ, and to his pure religion.” Note, Serm. II. pp. 31 –34.
3 John v. 39.
prominent subject of all the preceding revelations of God.
This is evident from considering the state of prophecy,
1. First, before the Law;
2. And, Secondly, under the Law. 1. This was the subject of the first promise made to Adam after the fall. “Man was not excluded from Paradise till God had sent him forth with some pledge of hope and consolation? :" and the traces of this promise, and the glorious hopes which it inspired, are to be perceived in the few revelations to the Patriarchs and holy men of old, which are recorded in the Scriptures; and in the triumphant declarations of trust and confidence in God, and the animated avowals of a glorious and heavenly hope, which were uttered by them under various circumstances of affliction and distress. We behold it in the faith of Enoch, who spake so clearly with regard to the coming of the Redeemer to judgment’: and if his faith was so clear with regard to his coming to judgment, why not with regard to his advent of redemption? We behold it in Job, who derived, amidst his unparalleled sufferings, the most triumphant joy and consolation from the assurance of his faith, which taught him to look forward to that blessed day when he should behold his Redeemer upon earth: “I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth; and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God, whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another,” where, as Bishop Pearson has admirably observed, “the title which he gives to him on whom he depends, the Redeemer, sheweth that he understands it of Christ; the time expressed denotes the futurition at the latter day; the description of that Redeemer, standing on the earth, representeth the Judge of the quick and the dead; and seeing God with his eyes, declares his belief in the incarnation"." We behold it in Abraham, with regard to whom, in whatever light we may regard the promises which were made to him by God, as having been fulfilled in any degree of temporal greatness, which was vouch safed to him and to his posterity, they can only be understood, in their true sense and their complete fulfilment, with reference to that Redeemer, whose day, in the ardency of his faith, he desired to see, and he saw it, and was glad ; and in whom all the nations of the earth were to be blessed? And the spiritual character of Abraham's expectation is proved by the manner in which the Almighty, in the promise of temporal blessings to Ishmael, expressly contrasts them with the spiritual blessings of which he promised to make Isaac the channel to his posterity: “ And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him. And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly: twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation : BUT MY COVENANT WILL I ESTABLISH WITH ISAAC+.” Indeed no measure of temporal greatness, which was ever vouchsafed either to Isaac or Jacob”, can justify the application of the divine promises to them in a temporal view: and Jacob himself gave proof of his own view of the peculiar nature of the distinguished blessings which God had promised to his posterity, when,amidst the various prophecies relating to the different tribes, some of which were accompanied with the promise of distinguished temporal blessings—he expressly pointed out that tribe, from which the Redeemer of mankind was to descend.
1 Compare Acts iii, 18. 24. x. 43. 2 Davison's Lectures on Prophecy, 1 Pet. i, 10, &c.
3 Jude 14,
5 Pearson On the Creed, Art. XI. p. 337. Ed. 1741.
7 Gen, xii. 3, &c.
4 Job xix. 25–27. 6 John viii, 56.
2. If we consider the state of prophecy under the Law, we shall find that it was directed to the same great object,—to prepare the Jewish people and the world in general, for the coming of the promised Redeemer. The Redeemer and his everlasting kingdom was not only made the subject of direct prophecy; but this subject pervades the whole scheme of ancient prophecy, as constituting the great subject of the divine revelations, the ultimate end of the dispensations of God.
The fortunes indeed of the Jewish people—the punishments which God denounced upon them for their rebellion and ingratitude—the promises of mercy to be vouchsafed to them on their repentance and amendment—and the judgments of God on the neighbouring nations,—constitute a constant subject of prophecy. But “ prophecy having been, in the first instance, directed to the subject of the promised redemption, could in after times be directed
1 Gen. xvii. 19_21. 3 Gen. L. 8-12.
2 Sherlock On Prophecy, Disc, v. pp. 116_122.
to nothing greater* :” and, amidst the various topics which constitute the theme of ancient prophecy, the prophets continually dwell upon that, which was the great subject of prophecy from the beginning and the great object of the divine dispensations,—the Redeemer and his everlasting kingdom.
Such, therefore, appears to have been the great scope and object of prophecy under the former dispensations.
It is evident that these facts ought always to be kept in view, in forming our opinion with respect to the intention of prophecy under that more perfect and spiritual dispensation; of which the great end and object was the complete accomplishment of that redemption, which planned in the counsels of infinite wisdom from the foundation of the world.
II. But there are other points, of which the consideration is necessary, in order that we may arrive at just conclusions with regard to the true object and intent of ancient prophecy; and that we may be the better enabled to understand the principles, on which our investigation of the great end and object of prophecy under the new dispensation ought to be conducted.
1. And, in the first place, with regard to the Person, who appears to have been the great Agent of prophecy under the former dispensations.
It is the doctrine of the New Testament and of the Christian Church from the beginning, that the Agent in those divine manifestations, which were vouchsafed to the patriarchs and prophets of old, was not the Eternal Father himself, but the Second Person of the ever-blessed Trinity, the Divine