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the fall, to accomplish in this miserable world. The gospel sheds light upon the whole ancient testament of the Jews, and lifts the veil away from their wonderful institutions. (2 Cor. iii. 14-18.) It ought to be remembered, that the sum and substance of the entire bible is JESUS CHRIST CRUCIFIED TO SAVE A LOST WORLD; and that without this object in view as its grand End, the whole Jewish system of religion can have no meaning.
As we look backward many hundred years, and find the hope of the church in a redemption long since wrought out, so the Jew was taught to stretch his expectation forward and to found all hope toward God upon that same redemption to be revealed at a future time. What we learn from inspired history, was set before him by inspired prophecy and types: in his case indeed, compared with ours, the representation was shadowy and dark, yet altogether sufficient to lead the soul of the pious believer to confidence and peace.
Prophecy, though from its nature it could not but be wrapped to some extent in obscurity, was nevertheless very explicit in declaring the general truth, that a Great Salvation was to be disclosed in coming time, and an age of happy and glorious privilege unfolded, far surpassing all the previous state of the church. This testimony was strikingly confirmed by the great system of types, which God ordered for the help of faith. What was predicted in one case with words, was prefigured in the other by shadowy signs. A general belief, accordingly, was cherished by the whole nation, that a far more excellent and happy state than the one under which they lived was to be revealed at a future period. It was universally agreed, too, that this happy state was to be introduced by a powerful and glorious Deliverer, called emphatically by the prophet Daniel, the MESSIAH, or Anointed One, and spoken of repeatedly in other places under different names-such as the SEED of the woman, the SEED of Abraham, SHILOH, the BRANCH Out of Jesse's stem, IMMANUEL, &c. Hence they were accustomed to speak of the whole period of the world, as being divided into two great ages the first reaching from the beginning to the time when the Messiah should appear, and then yielding place to the second, which was to abound
with righteousness and peace. The first, in which they lived themselves, they styled This age, or The present age; the other was distinguished as The age to come.
Great error, however, came to mingle itself with this expectation which the nation cherished. The scripture representations were understood in a low and narrow sense. The descriptions of that coming age, the latter time, when the reign of the Messiah was to be established in glorious and happy triumph, had been set forth by the prophets under striking imagery of an earthly kind. The Great Deliverer was represented under the character of a Prince, clothed with highest majesty and power, coming to occupy the throne of David, completely overthrowing all the enemies of his people, reducing the world to subjection, and reigning with most wise, righteous, and beneficent autho rity, so as to make his dominion full of all blessedness and peace. His people, too, were spoken of as the Jewish kingdom, and called by the names of Israel, Jacob, &c. All this had a meaning far more lofty and excellent than was signified by the terms employed when taken in an earthly sense. The kingdom to be set up was spiritual; the deli. verance was redemption from sin; the triumphant glory was victory over death and hell; the blessings of the government were holiness and eternal life; the people crowned with such benefits was the church gathered out of all nations-the true Israel comprehending all in every place that embrace the promises of God by faith. A serious consideration of the whole revelation of prophecy on this point, should have led to such a spiritual interpretation of the worldly imagery used in many cases in relation to it, But a worldly temper perverted it into an occasion of error. The notion of an earthly and temporal kingdom dazzled the imagination. The Messiah, it came to be expected, would appear with irresistible power to restore the Jewish nation to glory-to raise it far above even its most triumphant state in the days of Solomon-to introduce and esta. blish a long reign of liberty, virtue, and happiness. As the nation sunk under the pressure of foreign power, the expectation and hope of such a deliverer was indulged with more and more fondness.
There were always, however, some who entertained VOL. II.
more correct ideas on this subject. Taught by the Holy Spirit, they directed their faith toward a higher end. They looked for spiritual blessings, as the most desirable in the promises of God concerning the Messiah. Such were old Simeon, who waited for the consolation of Israel, and pious 、 Anna, and others in Jerusalem that looked for redemption, to whom she spake of Christ when he was yet an infant. (Luke ii. 25-38.) Yet even such appear, for the most part, to have entertained the notion that the benefits of the Messiah's kingdom were to be enjoyed especially by the Jews, and that the Gentiles, in order to have part in them, would be required to unite themselves, as proselytes, with the Israelitish church. The imagination of a wordly dominion too, so generally indulged by others, was ever apt to creep in and mingle itself to some extent with their best conceptions. How this imagination cleaved to the minds of Christ's disciples for a long time, may be learned from Matt. xvi. 22. xviii. 1. xx. 20-28. Mark xix. 33-35. Luke xix. 11. xxii. 24. Our Saviour repeatedly corrected the error, declaring that he was shortly to die a violent death, and that all who became his true followers must expect no earthly victories and distinctions, but persecution and tribulation; that the blessings of his kingdom were to be secured only by giving up all the expectations of worldly happiness which men naturally cherish, and that they far excelled all that the Jews imagined concerning the reign of the Messiah, being spiritual altogether and heavenly in their nature. Still, so strong was the general notion in their minds of a kingdom to be set up on earth, that as long as he lived it was not relinquished. Accordingly, after his death, we hear them sorrowfully saying, we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel; and with his resurrection, we find the expectation revived in all its strengthLord, they said, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? (Luke xxiv. 21. Acts i. 6.) The Holy Ghost, however, in a short time, guided them into a knowledge of the truth. They learned to conceive with wider and loftier views of Christ's kingdom. Their former impressions were swallowed up in the discovery of its moral glory-its divine grandeur-its eternal blessedness.
Not only was the expectation of the Messiah universal
among the Jews, but there was likewise a general agreement about the period when he might be looked for. Ancient prophecy had pointed to the time, as well as the place, of his appearance. (Gen. xlix. 10. Dan. ix. 24-27.) It came to pass, accordingly, that in that very age in which our Saviour appeared on earth, the people were expecting the promised Deliverer as just at hand. The opinion prevailed, that the time was then come for all to look for the speedy accomplishment of the sure word of prophecy on this subject. Thus Simeon and Anna, and many more in Jerusalem, we are told, were waiting. The Samaritans united with the Jews in this hope, and seem on the whole to have formed juster notions than they had of the character of the Messiah. (John iv. 25, 29, 42.) Nor was the expectation confined to the land of Palestine. The Jews, being scattered at that time into many foreign countries, caused it to take root in other regions; so that there came to be a general idea through the east, that a great prince was about to rise out of Judea in its low estate, who should obtain supreme dominion in the world. This fact is mentioned by two of the most respectable heathen historians of those times. (Matt. ii. 1-12.)
It was foretold also by the Spirit, that the Messiah should have a forerunner, to come immediately before him, and prepare, as it were, the way for his manifestation. Great and powerful kings in the east were accustomed, when making a journey, to send such before them to have the road made ready all along for their approach: so it was represented, a voice should be heard in the wilderness of this world, when the heavenly King was about to appear, giving notice of his coming, and calling upon men to make the way ready for his presence. (Is. xl. 3—5.) What sort of office was signified by this figurative account of the forerunner, going before the Messiah, we learn from the history of the gospel. (Luke i. 76, 77. iii. 2—18.) In the close of the Old Testament, the name of Elijah the prophet, was applied to this forerunner. (Mal. iv. 5, 6.) Hence an opinion came to prevail, that Elijah himself would actually return from the other world, and make his appearance in this important character. It was a doctrine of the scribes, the great interpreters of scripture, that Elias in his own person
should come immediately before the Messiah. (Matt. xvii. 10-13.) The Jews accordingly put the question to John the Baptist when he appeared, after he had told them that he was not the Christ, Art thou Elias? They meaned by Elias no other than the ancient prophet of Israel himself: John therefore assured them, he was not that holy man. (John i. 21.) Yet he was the very person to whom that name had been applied in prophecy-the great forerunner of the Messiah: Jesus declared of him, This is Elias, which was for to come, (Matt. xi. 14.) But when he was called by that name, it was intimated only that he should resemble Elijah in holiness, self-denial, and faithful boldness-or, as an angel once explained it, that he should come to perform his ministry in the spirit and power of Elias. (Luke i. 17.) There were some who imagined Jesus himself to be Elias returned to the world. (Luke ix. 8-19.)
In the fulness of time, the long-expected Christ, the Son of the living God, came. But the nation knew him not; "he came to his own, and his own received him not." With the Jews the promise had been deposited, and they had given the world to understand their expectation of its glorious accomplishment; but the accomplishment itself they were not able to see, while others saw, and believed, and rejoiced in the unspeakable grace of God.
By this event, a new and far more glorious dispensation was introduced. The old one, having answered all its purpose, was commanded to pass away for ever. The ceremonial law lost all its obligation, having been imposed only till this time of reformation. (Heb. ix. 10.) The middle wall of partition, between the Jews and other nations of the world, was broken down: "the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances" was abolished. (Eph. iii. 14, 15.) All distinction between Jew and Gentile, as to any peculiar favour of heaven, was over. One was invited as freely as the other to join the family of God, and take part in the rich blessings of his grace. Peace was commanded to be preached to all-those that were far off as well as those that were nigh.
To those who had been trained up with the notions and feelings of Jews, this could not but seem a most wonderful