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Behold, the former things are come to pass,
and new things do I declare : before they
spring forth, I tell you of them.. THE The preceding discourses were designed, to
E open the general idea of prophecy; and to en. force the general argument from it, in proof of our holy Religion.
The way being thus far cleared, we now advance a step farther, and take a nearer view of THE PROPHECIES THEMSELVES.
These prophecies may be considered under two heads. They either respect, the person and character' and office of the Messiah ; or, the fate and fortunes of that kingdom, which he came to establish in the world.
Divines call the former of these, Prophecies of his FIRST COMING; and the other, Prophecies of his SECOND. Only, it may
proper to observe, Tliat the second advent of the Messiah is not, like the first, confined to one single and precise period, but is gradual and successive. This distinction is founded in the reason of the thing. He could only come, in person, at one limited time. He comes, in his power and his providence, through all ages of the church. His first coming was then over, when he expired on the cross. cond, commenced with his 'resurrection, and will continue to the end of the world. So that this last coming of Jesus is to be understood of his spiritual kingdoin ; which is not one act of sovereignty, exerted at once; but'a state or constitution of government, subsisting through a long tract of time, unfolding itself by just degrees, and coming, as oft, as the conductor of it thinks fit to interpose by any signal acts of his administration. And in this sense, we are directed to pray, that his kingdom, though
SERMON long since set up, may come ; that is, may ad
vance through all its stages, till it arrive at that full state of glory, in which it shall shine out in the great day, as it is called, the day of judgment.
It will be seen, as we advance in the present inquiry, to what use this distinction serves.
The former set of prophecies are presumed to have had their completion, in the history of Jesus; The latter set, have had, or are to find, their accomplishment, in the history of his Religion ; And of these only, it is the purpose of this Lecture to speak.
But, though the prophecies of Christ's first coming (so largely and accurately considered by many great writers). be not the immediate subject of our inquiry, yet they must not be wholly overlooked by us. It will contribute very much to rectify and enlarge our ideas of the divine conduct, in this whole dis-, pensation of prophecy, and to make
for: that conviction, which the prophecies of Christ's second coming were intended to give, if we stop a while to contemplate the method and economy of that prophetic system, by
which the first advent of the Messiah was announced and prepared.
It is assumed, as a firsť principle on this subject, That Jesus was the ultimate end and object of all the prophecies a : which beginning from the foundation of the world , were, afterwards, occasionally delivered through many ages ; till at length this great purpose was prosecuted more intently, by a continued and closely-compacted chain of prophecy; as we see, first, in the patriarchal history, but, chiefly, in the history of the Jewish state. For, when this people were selected from the other nations, to answer many wise ends of providence,
, it pleased God to institute a form of government for them, which could not subsist without his frequent interposition ; manifested in such a way as might convince them, that they' were under the actual and immediate conduct of their divine sovereign. Hence, it became a part of this singular economy, to be administered in the way of Prophecy ; by which it would be seen that the hand of God was upon them in all their more important concerns.
a Serm. II. b 'Ad' aiôvos. Luke i. 70.
Upon this basis of an extraordinary providence, the Jewish government stood: and we are now to see in what manner the prophetic spirit, so essential to that polity, was employed.
1. First, we may observe, that, by means of this provision for their civil regimen, an apt and commodious way was opened for carrying on the divine councils, in regard to Jesus ; in whom, indeed, the Law itself was to be fulfilled. For, while the civil affairs of the Jewish people furnished the occasion and substance of their prophecies, the divine wisdom, (that inspired the prophets, so contrived, as that their religious concerns should; also, be expressed, or implied in them. The general theme of the prophet, was some temporal success or calamity of the Jewish state: the secret purpose of the
inspirer was, occasionally at least, and when he saw fit, to predict the spiritual kingdom of the Messiah
This use and intent of prophecy was seen, and admira ably expressed, by the great M. Fuscal "Les propheties
. “ sont mêlées de propheties particulieres, et de celles dų Messie, afin que les propheties du Messie ne fussent pas sans preures, et que les propheties particulieres ne fussent pas sans fruit." Pensées, p. 112.