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PROPHETICAL PROOFS OF JESUS CHRIST.
PROPHETICAL PROOFS OF JESUS CHRIST.
THE most powerful evidence in favour of Jesus Christ, is the prophecies; and to them also God appears to have had the most special regard ; for the occurrence of those events which fulfil them, is a miracle which has subsisted from the beginning of the church to the end. God raised up a succession of prophets, during a period of 1600 years, and during four subsequent centuries, he scattered these prophecies, with the Jews who possessed them, throughout all parts of the world. Such, then, was the preparation for the birth of Christ ; for as his gospel was to be believed by all the world, it required not only that there should be prophecies to render it credible, but that these prophecies should be diffused throughout the world, in order that all the world might believe.
If one individual only had written a volume of predictions respecting Jesus Christ, and the time and manner of his coming, and then Jesus Christ had come, in accordance to these predictions, the proof would be infinitely powerful. But we have more than this. In this case there is a series of men for 4000 years, who constantly and without discrepancy foretel successively the same advent. He is announced by a whole people, who subsist for 4000 years, to yield a successive cumulative testimony to their certain expectation of his coming ; and from which neither threat nor persecution could turn them. This is much ampler proof.
2. The appointed period was predicted by the state of the Jews, by the state of the heathen, by the state of the temple, and by the precise number of years.
The prophets having given several signs which should happen at the coming of Messiah, it follows that all these signs should occur at the same time; and hence it followed, that the fourth monarchy should be come, at the expiration of the seventy weeks of Daniel ; that the sceptre should then depart from Judah; and that then Messiah should come. At that very crisis, Jesus Christ came, and declared himself the Messiah.
It is predicted, that during the fourth monarchy, before the destruction of the second temple, before the dominion of the Jews had ceased, and in the seventieth week of Daniel, the heathen should be instructed and led to the knowledge of that God, whom the Jews worshipped, and that they who loved him, should be delivered from their enemies, and filled with his love and his fear.
And it did happen, that during the fourth monarchy, and before the destruction of the second temple, multitudes of the heathen worshipped God, and lived a heavenly life ; women devoted to God their virginity, and their whole life ; men renounced a life of pleasure; and that which Plato could not accomplish with a few chosen and well disciplined individuals, was now effected by a secret influence, operating through a few words, on hundreds of thousands of illiterate men.
And what is all this? It is that which has been foretold long before. I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh. All men were lying in wretchedness and unbelief. Now the whole earth kindles into love. Princes laid aside their splendour: the wealthy parted with their abundance: girls submitted to martyrdom: children forsook their homes to live in the deserts. Whence is this energy ? It is that Messiah is come. This is the effect and the proof of his arrival.
For 2000 years the God of the Jews was unknown to the countless multitudes of the hen; but, at the time predicted, the heathen rushed in crowds to worship this only God.
The temples are thrown down; and kings themselves bend before the cross. Whence comes this? The Spirit of God has been poured out upon the earth.
It was foretold that Messiah should come to establish a new covenant, which should cause them to forget their departure from Egypt. Jer. xxiii. 7. That he should write his law, not on an exterior tablet, but on their hearts, Isaiah li. 7.; and put his fear, which, till then, had been only superficial, in their hearts also. Jer. xxxi. 33. That the Jews should reject Christ, and that they should be rejected of God, because the chosen vine brought forth wild grapes only. Isaiah v. That the chosen people should be faithless, ungrateful, and incredulous,-an unbelieving and gainsaying people. Isaiah lxv. e. That God should smite them with blindness, and that they should stumble like blind men at noon-day. Deut. xxviii. That the church should be small at its commencement, and increase gradually. Ezek. xlvii.
It was foretold that then idolatry should be overthrown; that Messiah should overturn all the idols, and bring men to the worship of the true God. Ezek. xxx. 13.
That the temples and the images should be caused to cease, and in every place a pure offering should be offered, and not the blood of beasts. Mal. i. 11.
That he should teach men the perfect way. Isa. ii. 3. Micah iv. 2. That he should be the king, both of Jews
and Gentiles. Psalm ii. 6-8. Psalm lxxi. And never has there come either before Jesus Christ, or since, any man who has taught any thing like this.
And at length, after so many individuals have predicted this advent, Jesus Christ appeared and said, I am he, and the time is fulfil He came to teach men that they had no enemies but themselves; that their sinful inclinations separate them from God; that he came to deliver them, to give them grace, and to gather all men into one holy church; to unite in this church both Jews and Gentiles; and to destroy the idols of the one, and the superstitions of the other.
“What the prophets have foretold, my apostles," said he, "will shortly accomplish. The Jews shall be rejected ; Jerusalem will soon be destroyed; the Gentiles shall come to the knowledge of God; and when you shall have slain the heir of the vineyard, my apostles shall turn from you to them.”
Afterwards we find the apostles saying to the Jews: a curse is coming upon you; and to the Gentiles, you shall know the Lord,
To this dispensation all men were adverse, owing to the natural antipathy of their sinfulness. This king of both Jews and Gentiles, was oppressed by both, who conspired to kill him. All that was mighty in the world, the learned, the wise, the powerful, all confederated against this nascent religion. Some wrote, some censured, and others shed blood. But notwithstanding all opposition, in a short time, we see Jesus Christ reigning over both,-destroying the Jewish worship in Jerusalem, which was its centre and erecting there his first church; and destroya ing the worship of idols, at Rome, where idolatry centred, and establishing in it his principal church.
The apostles and the primitive Christians, a simple and powerless people, resisted all the powers of the earth; overcame monarchs, philosophers, and sages, and destroyed an established idolatry. And all this was wrought by the alone energy of that word which had foretold it.
The Jews, by slaying Christ, that they might not ace knowledge him as Messiah, have completed the proof of his Messiahship. Their perseverance in denying him, makes them irrefragable witnesses in his behalf. And both by their killing him, and persisting to reject him, they have fulfilled the prophecy.
Who does not recognize Jesus Christ in a great variety of particulars predicted of the Messiah ? For it is said,
That he should have a forerunner. Mal. iii. 1. That he should be born as an infant. Isaiah ix. 6. That he should be born in Bethlehem. Micah v. 2. That he should spring from the family of Judah and of David: that he should appear chiefly in Jerusalem. Mal. iii. 1. Hag. ii. 10. That he should hide these things from the wise and prudent, and reveal them to the poor and to babes. That he should open the eyes of the blind, should heal the sick, Isaiah xxxv. and lead those who languished in darkness, into light. Isaiah xlii. 8, 9.
That he should teach a perfect way, and be the instructor of the Gentiles. Isaiah lv. 4.
That he should be the victim offered for the sins of the world. Isaiah liii.
That he should be the precious foundation stone. Isaiah xxviii. 26.
That he should be a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, Isaiah viii. 14.
That the inhabitants of Jerusalem shall fall on it. Isaiah viii. 15.