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the Old Testament, those passages which to him ap-
peared to point to an extraordinary person ; and then
he would either apply every one singly, or all of
them collectively to Jesus, in order to judge how
far they were fulfilled in him. But we are provided
with much assistance in this examination. We are
directed, in our search of the Old Testament, by the
passages which our Lord and his apostles have quot-
ed, by the knowledge which men versant in Jewish
learning have diffused of the predictions marked in
the Jewish Targums, and by the labours of the an-
cient apologists for Christianity, and of many divines
since the Reformation, and more especially since the
beginning of the last century, who, with very sound
critical talents, and much historical information, have
devoted themselves to the elucidation of this subject.
There is no reason why we should not avail ourselves
of these helps. They abridge the labour of investi-
gation ; but they do not necessarily bias our judg-
ments. We may examine a prophecy which is point-
ed out to us, as strictly as if we ourselves had dis-
covered it to be a prophecy. We may even indulge
a certain degree of jealousy with regard to all the
prophecies which are suggested by the friends of
Christianity, and may fortify our minds with the reso-
lution that nothing but the most marked and striking
correspondence shall overcome this jealousy. It is
right for you to employ every fair precaution against
being deceived ; and then take into your hands any
of those books which serve as an index to the pre-
dictions in the Old Testament respecting the Mes-


siah. You have an excellent index in Clarke's Evi-
dences of Natural and Revealed Religion, which is,
upon the whole, one of the best elementary books for
a student in divinity, and which is rendered pecu-
liarly useful with regard to the prophecies, by a part
of Dr. Clarke's character that appears in all his theo-
logical writings — an intimate profound knowledge
of Scripture, and a faculty of bringing together, and
arranging in the most lucid order all the texts which
relate to a subject. You have another index in Bi-
shop Chandler's Defence of Christianity. Sherlock,
Newton, Jortin, Hurd, Halifax, Bagot, Macknight,
and other divines, have both given a full explication
of some particular predictions, and directed to the
solution of many others. The comparison of the
predictions in the Old Testament respecting the
Messiah, with the facts recorded in the New, is one
of the most essential parts of the education of a stu-
dent in divinity. Other Christians may not have
leisure for such an employment. But it is expected
from your profession, that you know the occasions
upon which the predictions were given, and that you
are able to defend the received interpretations of
them, and to state the order in which they succeeded
one another, and the manner in which they were
fulfilled. And if you either bring to this inquiry
critical sagacity, and historical information of your
own, or avail yourselves judiciously of the labours of
others, you will attain an enlightened and firm con-
viction that Jesus is not only a messenger from hea-
ven, but the Messiah of the Jews.

It is impossible for me to lead you through all the
particulars of this investigation. But I shall men-
tion, in a few words, the result to which men of the


soundest judgment have been conducted, and which
they have rendered it easy for us to teach ; and then
I shall give you a specimen of the exact fulfilment of
Jewish prophecy in Jesus.

Moses, by whom the most ancient predictions were
compiled, lived a thousand years before Malachi ;
and Malachi lived after the Jews had returned from
their captivity, above four hundred years before the
birth of our Saviour. During the long period that
intervened between the earliest and the latest pro-
phets, there are scattered through the books of the
Old Testament predictions of a dispensation of Pro-
vidence, to be executed in a future time by an extra-
ordinary personage. And all these predictions are
found to apply to the history of Jesus of Nazareth.
Although the predictions which point through such
a length of time to one dispensation, differ widely
from one another in clearness and imagery, not one
of them is inconsistent with the facts recorded in the
gospel. By the help of that interpretation which
the event gives to the prophecy, we can see an uni-
formity and continuity in the scheme. The more
general expressions of the ancient i)rophets, and the
more minute descriptions of the latter, illustrate one
another. Every prediction appears to stand in its
proper place, and every clause assumes importance
and significancy.

There are two circumstances which every false
prophet is careful to avoid, or at least to express in
ambiguous terms, Imt which were precisely marked,
and literally accomplished with regard to the Mes-
siah. The circumstances are, time and place. It was
foretold in a succession of limiting prophecies, that
that seed of the woman which was to bruise the head


of the serpent, should arise out of the family of Abra-
ham, out of the children of Israel, out of the tribe of
Judah, out of the house of David, and out of the
town of Bethlehem, where David was born. It is
said in the book of Chronicles, " Judah prevailed
above his brethren, and of him came the chief
ruler." * And to satisfy us that this prophecy was
not exhausted by the rulers that had formerly come
of Judah, we read in Micah, who lived in the reign
of King Hezekiah, " But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah,
though thou be little among the thousands of Judah,
yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me, that is
to be ruler in Israel ; whose goings forth have been
from of old, from everlasting." f Here is the place, an
obscure village in Judea, so fixed by prophecy, seven
hundred years before the event, that the ancient
Jews expected the Messiah was to be born there ;
and some of the modern Jews have said that he was
born before Bethlehem was desolated, and lies hid-
den in the ruins. The time is also fixed. Daniel
numbered seventy weeks, that is according to the
prophetic style, in which a day stands for a year,
four hundred and ninety years, as the interval be-
tween the commandment to rebuild Jerusalem, and
the establishment of the Messiah's kingdom. t This
interpretation of the weeks of Daniel, which learned
men have, I think, incontrovertibly established, is
confirmed by other predictions still more clear, which
declare that the extraordinary personage was to arise
out of Judea, while it remained a distinct tribe, pos-
sessing some authority, and while its temple stood ;

* Chron. v. 2. t Micah v. 2. X Daniel ix. 24-, 25.


and that he was to arise during the fourth kingdom,
after the Romans became masters of the world. The
four successive kingdoms are described in the inter-
pretation of the vision in the seventh chapter of Da-
niel, and so described, that any person versant in
history cannot mistake the Babylonian, Persian, Ma-
cedonian, and Roman. The Romans had successive-
ly conquered the three other branches of the Mace-
donian empire. But Egypt still existed as an inde-
pendent kingdom, till the unfortunate Cleopatra end-
ed her days at the battle of Actium, thirty years be-
fore the birth of our Saviour ; the next year Egypt
was made tributary to Rome ; and then, first, says
the historian Dion Cassius, did Caesar alone possess
all power. The city and temple of Jerusalem were
destroyed, and the constitution of the Jewish state
annihilated about seventy years after the birth of our
Saviour. Thus the establishment of the universal
empire of Rome, and the desolation of Jerusalem,
are two limits marked by ancient prophecy. The
Messiah was to be born after the first, and before the
last. They contain between them a space of about
a hundred years, within which space the Messiah
was to be born ; but at such a distance from the last
of the two limits, as to allow time for his preaching
to the Jews, for his being rejected by them, and for
their suffering upon account of that rejection ; all
which events were also foretold. Within the space
of a hundred years the different divisions of Daniel's
seventy weeks had their end ; and within this space
Jesus was born. According to every method, then,
in which the time of the Messiah's birth can be com-
puted from ancient predictions, it was fulfilled in


Jesus ; and this fulfilment of the time brought about,
by a wonderful concurrence of circumstances, a ful-
filment with regard to the place also of the Messiah's
birth. After the Romans, in the progress of their
conquests, had subdued Syria, and the other parts of
the Macedonian empire adjoining to Judea, that state,
standing alone, could not long remain independent.
Its form of government was for some time preserved
by the indulgence of the Romans. But, about forty
years before the birth of our Saviour, an act of the
senate set aside the succession of the Asmonean
princes, and conferred the crown of Judea upon
Herod the Great. Although Herod was king of Ju-
dea, he held his kingdom as a prince dependent upon
Rome ; and, in token of his vassalage, an order was
issued by Augustus, before his death, that there
should be a general enrolment of the inhabitants of
Palestine ; that is, the Roman census, by which the
state acquired a knowledge of the numbers, the
wealth, and the condition of its subjects, was extend-
ed to this appendage of the Roman empire. In con-
formity to the Jewish method of classing the people
by tribes and families, every inhabitant of Palestine
was ordered to have his name enrolled, not in the
city where he happened to reside, but in that to
which the founder of his house had belonged, and
which, in the language of the Jews, was the city of
his people. By this order, which was totally inde-
pendent of the will of Jose})h and Mary, and which
involved in it a decree of the Roman emperor then
for the first time issued concerning Judea, and a re-
solution of the king of Judea to adopt a particular
mode of executing that decree, Joseph and Mary are
brought from a distant corner of Palestine to Beth-



lehem. They are brought at a time when Mary-
would not have chosen such a journey : and Jesus,
to their great inconvenience and distress, is born in
a stable, and laid in a manger. It is not easy for
any person who attends to these circumstances, to re-
frain from acknowledging the hand of Providence,
connecting the time and the place of the birth of
Jesus, so as that, without the possibility of human
preparation, they should together fulfil the words of
ancient prophets.

I have selected these two necessary accompani-
ments of every action, because it was possible, with-
in a short compass, to give you a striking view of
the coincidence between the prediction and the event.
But the same coincidence extends through a multi-
tude of circumstances, which in the prophecies ap-
pear minute, unrelated, and sometimes contradictory,
and which cannot be applied to any one person who
ever lived upon earth, except to Jesus of Nazareth,
in whom they are united with perfect harmony, so
that every one has a meaning, and all together form
a consistent whole.

It would seem, then, that we are fully warranted
in saying that the circumstances in the appearance
of Jesus correspond to the predictions of the Old
Testament respecting the Messiah of the Jews, and
that the presumptive and the direct proof of his be-
ing a messenger of heaven, are entitled to all the sup-
port, which they can derive from the justness of his
claim to the character of Messiah.



But the adverearies of Christianity do not allow us
so readily to draw this conclusion : And there are ob-
jections to the argument from prophecy, the proper
answer to which well deserves your study. These
objections were brought forward, and stated with
much art and plausibility, in a book entitled, Grounds
and Reasons of the Christian Religion, written after
the beginning of the last century, by Mr. Collins.
Bishop Chandler's Defence of Christianity, from the
prophecies of the Old Testament, was an answer to
this book : and Mr. Collins published a reply, entit-
led. The Scheme of Literal Prophecy Considered. Bi-
shop Sherlock in his discourses on Prophecy, Warbur-
ton in his Divine Legation of Moses, and many mo-
dern divines, have combated with sound learning and
argument the positions of Mr. Collins ; so that any
student who applies to this important subject, may
receive very able assistance in forming his judgment.
I shall state to you the objections, with the an-
swers. The position of Mr. Collins' book is this ;
Christianity is founded on Judaism. Our Lord and
his apostles prove Christianity from the Old Testa-
ment. If the proofs which they draw from thence
are valid, Christianity is true : if they are not valid,
Christianity is false. But all the prophecies of the
Old Testament are applicable to Christ only in a
secondary, typical, allegorical sense. Such a sense,
being fanatical and chimerical, cannot be admitted
according to the scholastic rules of interpretation.
And thus Christianity, deriving no real support from
Judaism upon which it is professedly grounded, must
be false.


To this artful mis-statement of the subject, we
have two answers.

The first is, that there are in the Old Testament
direct prophecies of the Messiah, which, not in a ser
condary, but in their primary sense, apply to Jesus
of Nazareth. There is in the Pentateuch a promise
of a proi>het to be raised up from amongst the Jews
like unto Moses.* But none in all the succession of
Jewish prophets was like him in the free intercourse
which he had with the Almighty, the importance of
the commission which he bore, and the signs which
he did. And, therefore, that succession not only
kept alive the exj^ectation, but was itself a pledge of
the great prophet that should come. The writings
of the succession of prophets are full of predictions
concerning a new dispensation more glorious, more
general, more spiritual than the Jewish economy,
when " the sons of the stranger should join themselves
to the Lord ;" when " his house should be an house
of prayer for all people ;" when " the gods of the
earth should be famished," no more offerings being
presented to them, and " every one from his place,"
not at Jerusalem, but in his ordinary residence,
*' should worship Jehovah." " Behold the days come,
saith the Lord," by Jeremiah, who lived in the time
of the captivity, *' that I will make a new covenant
with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah,
not according to the covenant which I made with
their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand
to bring them out of the land of Egypt. But this
shall be the covenant that I will make with the house
of Israel ; after those days, saith the Lord, I will put
my law in their inward parts, and write it in their

* Deut. xviii. 15, 18.


hearts ; and I will forgive their iniquity, and I will
remember their sin no more." * It is further to be
remarked, that the prophecy of this new spiritual
dispensation is connected throughout the Old Testa-
ment with the mention of a person by whom the dis-
pensation was to be introduced. If it is called a
covenant, we read of the Messenger of the Covenant.
If it is called a kingdom, set up by the God of hea-
ven, which should never be destroyed, we read of a
chief ruler to come out of Judah, of the Prince of
Peace who was to sit on the throne of his father Da-
vid, to establish it with justice and judgment for ever;
of one like the Son of man coming with the clouds of
heaven, to whom is given an universal and everlast-
ing dominion. If the new dispensation is represent-
ed as a more perfect mode of instruction, we read of
a j)rophet upon whom should rest the spirit of wis-
dom and understanding. If it is styled the deliver-
ance of captives, there is also a redeemer ; or victory,
there is also a leader ; or a sacrifice, there is al-
so an everlasting priest. The intimations of this
extraordinaiy personage, so closely connected with
the new dispensation, became more clear and point-
ed as the time of his coming approached : and there
are predictions in Malachi and the later prophets,
which in their direct primary sense can belong to no
other but the Messiah. " Behold," says God by Ma-
lachi, " I will send my messenger, and he shall pre-
pare the way before me ; and the Lord whom ye seek
shall suddenly come to his temple ; even the mes-
senger of the covenant whom ye delight in." And
again, " Behold I will send you Elijah the prophet^

* Jer. xxxi. 31 — 34.


before the great and dreadful day of the Lord."*
Even Grotius, whose principle it was, in his exposi-
tion of the Old Testament, to seek for the primary
sense of the prophecies in the Jewish affairs which
were immediately under the eye of the prophet, and
to consider their application to Jesus as a secondary
sense, and who has often been misled by this princi-
ple into very forced interpretations, has not been able
to assign any other meaning to these prophecies, with
which the Old Testament concludes, and with a re-
petition of which Mark begins his Gospel, than that
Malachi, with whom the prophetical spirit ceased,
gave notice that it should be resumed in John the
forerunner of the Messiah, who in the spirit and the
power of Elias, should prepare the way before the
messenger of the covenant.

The first answer then to Mr. Collins is, that
there are in the Old Testament direct prophecies
of the dispensation of the Gospel, and of the Mes-

The second answer is, that prophecies applicable
to Jesus only in a typical and secondary sense are
not fanatical or unscholastic.

We are taught by the Apostle Paul to consider
all the ceremonies of the law as types of the more
perfect and spiritual dispensation of the Gospel.
The meats, the drinks, the washings, the institution
of the Levitical priesthood, the paschal lamb, and
the other sacrifices, were figures for the time then
present, shadows of good things to come, a rough
draught, as the word type properly imports, of the
blessings of that better covenant which the law an-

* Malachi iii. 1, 4, 5.


iiounced. Many actions and incidents in the lives
of eminent persons under the law are held forth as
types of the Christ ; and by the application which
is made in the Gospels, the Acts, and the Epistles,
of various passages in the Old Testament, we are
led to consider many prophecies, which originally
had, both in the intention of the speaker and in the
sense of the hearers, a reference only to Jewish af-
fairs, and were then interpreted by that reference,
as receiving their full accomplishment in the events
of the Gospel. This is what we mean by the
double sense of prophecy. The seventy-second
psalm is an example. It is the paternal blessing
given by David in his dying moments to Solomon,
when with the complacency of an affectionate father
and a good prince, he looks forward to that happiness
which his people were to enjoy u.nder the peaceful
reign of his son. But while he contemplates this
great and pleasing object, he is led by the spirit to
look beyond it, to that illustrious descendant whose
birth he had been taught to expect, — that branch
which in the latter days was to spring out of the
root of Jesse. The two objects blend themselves
together in his imagination ; at least the words in
which he pours forth his conceptions, although sug-
gested by the promise concerning Solomon, are
much too exalted when applied to the occurrences
even of his distinguished reign, and were fulfilled
only in the nature and the extent of the blessings
conveyed by the Gospel. Had we no warrant from
authority upon other accounts respectable, to bring
this secondary sense out of some prophecies ; or
had we no prophecies of the Messiah in the Old
Testament of another kind, it would be unfair and


imscholastical reasoning to infer that Jesus is the
Messiah, because some passages may be thus trans-
ferred to him. We rest the argument from prophecy
upon those predictions which expressly point to the
Messiah, and upon that authority which the mira-
cles of Jesus and his apostles gave to them as in-
terpreters of prophecy : and we say that when
their interpretation of those prophecies which were
originally applicable to other events, gives to every
expression in them a natural and complete sense,
and at the same time coincides with the spirit of
those predictions concerning the Gospel which are
direct, we have the best reason for receiving this
further meaning, not to the exclusion of the other,
but as the full exposition of the words of the

There is nothing in the nature of jn'ophecy, or
the general use of language, inconsistent with this
account of the matter. If you allow that prophecy
is a thing possible, you must admit that " it came
not by the will of man, but that holy men spake as
they were moved by the Holy Ghost." Prophecy
by its nature is distinguished from other kinds of
discourse. At other times, men utter sentiments
which they feel ; they relate facts which they
know ; they reason according to the measure of
their faculties. But when they prophesy, that is,
when they declare, by the inspiration of God, events
which are out of the reach of human foresight, they
speak not of themselves ; they are but the vehicles
for conveying the mind of another Being; they
pronounce the words which he puts into their
mouth ; and whether these words be intelligible or
not, or what their full meaning may be, depends


not upon them, but upon Him from whom the words
proceed. It is thus clearly deducible from the na-
ture of prophecy, that there might be in the pre-
dictions of the Old Testament, a further meaning
than that which was distinctly presented to the
minds of those who spake. And we may conceive,
that as the high priest Caiaphas was directed in the.
Jewish council to employ words which, although in
his eyes they contained only a political advice, were
really a prophecy of the benefits resulting from the
death of Christ, * so the spirit of God might intro-
duce into predictions, which to those who uttered
them seemed to respect only the present fortune of
their country, or the fate of some illustrious per-
sonage, expressions, in a certain sense indeed, appli-
cable to them, but pointing to a more imjwrtant
event, and a more glorious personage, in whom it
was to ap ear at a future period that they were li-
terally fulfilled.,

As there is nothing in the nature of prophecy in-
consistent with that account of types and secondary
senses which constitutes our second answer to the
objection of Mr. Collins, so this account is supported
by the general use of language. And any person
versant in that use, will not be disposed to call the
application of types and secondary prophecies un-
scholastic. The typical nature of the Jewish ritual
accords with that most ancient method of conversing
by actions, that kind of symbolical language, whichr
is adopted in early times from the scantiness of
words, which is retained in advanced periods of so-

* John xi. 4y.


ciety, in order to give energy and beauty to speech,
which abounds in the writings of the Jewish pro-
phets, and appears to have been in familiar and uni-
versal use through all the regions adjoining to Judea.
In like manner, prophecies which admit of two
senses, one immediate and obvious, the other remote
and hidden, are agreeable to that allegory which is
only the symbolical language appearing in an extend-
ed discourse. Both sacred and profane poets afford
beautiful examples of allegory. In the 14th Ode of
the first book of Horace, the poet, under a concern
for the safety of his friends at sea in a shattered
bark, contrives at the same time to convey his ap-
prehensions concerning the issue of the new civil
war. There is a finished allegory, in the 80th
Psalm. And Dr. Warburton has pointed out a
prophecy in the two first chapters of Joel, where the
prophet, he says, in his prediction of an approaching
ravage by locusts, foretels likewise, in the same
words, a succeeding desolation by the Assyrian army.

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