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The historical documents adduced in this chapter, are sufficient vouchers for the authenticity of the sacred writings; but had no such attestations existed, their authority is fully confirmed, as we have seen by the completion of prophecies. They afford solid proofs of the supernatural origin of a religion whose truth they were intended to testify.
CONCERNING THE MESSIAH.
THE authenticity of the Scripture history, has been fully established in the foregoing chap
We shall in the first place notice the connection of the Old and New Testaments, in four very remarkable events; one of which was at the distance of nearly 2000 years from the other.
The promise first made to Abram was: "In thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed." As his son Isaac was to be eminently a type of Jesus, in suffering himself to be bound, and laid upon an altar to be sacrificed; so the annunciation of his birth was in a manner exactly corresponding with that of the immediate forerunner of Christ, as well as with that of the Messiah. The birth of Isaac was preternatural; and foretold by an angel of the Lord. The birth of John the Baptist was alike supernatural; and
the messenger of it, said unto Zacharias: "I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and show thee glad tidings."
It was the angel Gabriel that opened the vision to Daniel, of the time of the appearance of Messiah, the Prince. And the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, to foretell unto Mary the miraculous conception and birth of Christ.
This remarkable coincidence of marvellous circumstances attendant on events so remote from each other, is sufficient to show, they were all under the direction of Him, who seeth the end from the beginning; who is the same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever.
There is not any prediction of the prophets more literally fulfilled than that of Isaiah concerning John the Baptist; though it was 700 years before his birth. Isaiah terms the mission of John, "The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a high-way for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain. And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.”
And when the Jews sent Priests and Levites from Jerusalem, to ask John, who art thou? He immediately replied, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias."
Malachi prophesied 400 years before the birth of Christ: "Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before thee;" and again, "Behold I will send you Elijah the prophet."
As the Messiah was to be born in an obscure family, and to appear in a despicable state, when the Jews were expecting him in the splendour of a great king and conqueror; he was to be so clearly pointed out that no doubt might remain, either of the identity of his person, or of the time of his coming.
The Jews acknowledge, that the prophecy of Isaiah, which we have quoted, refers to the comfort the Messiah was to procure for his people; and that the voice mentioned, applies to those who were to proclaim his coming.-As the characters by which the forerunner of Christ is described in these two prophecies were much in the eye of the Jews, it was necessary for him to be notably distinguished, as was the prophet Elijah. And the annunciation of the birth of John, was attended with circumstances, which
had a tendency to spread the knowledge of them far and wide; for when Zacharias was struck dumb in the temple, the whole multitude of the people were praying without, at the time of incense. And the people waited for Zacharias, and marvelled that he tarried so long in the temple. And when he came out, and could not speak to them, they perceived he had seen a vision in the temple; for he beckoned unto them and remained speechless.
These were signs and wonders from the Lord of Hosts, to be spoken of, and had in remembrance. And there is not any period of the Jewish history more particularly identified, than that of the commencement of the ministry of John the Baptist: "Now, in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Cæsar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea, and of the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias the tetrarch of Abilene; Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests, the word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness. And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins." Luke iii. 1—3.
John being a Nazarite, lived in a solitary place, as the prophet Elijah had done. His preach