John McQuirk.

Sermons and discourses (Volume 3) online

. (page 17 of 43)
Online LibraryJohn McQuirkSermons and discourses (Volume 3) → online text (page 17 of 43)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

waters. From the trunks of hollowed oaks, or from
the darkness and dampness of caves sunk in the
earth, they forsooth would prognosticate what would
be acceptable to those who consulted them. Princes,
usurpers, warriors, politicians working for their am-
bitious interests would cajole and delude the people,
and inspire them with confidence in their cause by
showing that the gods were on their side by predic-
tions purchased by bribes at Delphos or Apollo, or
some other places where they were to be found.
Sometimes the pseudo prediction might be discov-
ered by sagacity w^orking on known causes, or by
forecasting something on the point of happening.
They predicted so much that it would surpass won-
der if they did not strike upon something that would
come true; as the modern fortune teller. Often, not
to say always, their oracles would be so w^orded that
they could mean anything, even contradictions, or
anything that was wanted. For most part they con-
sisted of single phrases without completed meaning.

The persuasion that true knowledge of the future
could only come from God has always been among
the strongest convictions of men. The loftiest and
profoundest reason, and the intuitions of the human
heart, and the instinctive sense of mankind, have
ever recognized in true and Divine prophecy the
unerring argument of truth, the infallible authority
of God, and the very sign manual of Divinity. This
is summed up in the words of Isaiah xii, 23 : "Show
the things that are to come hereafter ; and we shall
know that ye are gods."

Such are the Divine prophecies which for more


than 2000 years, from the election of the Jewish
people in Abraham to Christ, extending through
chapters and books, which, while keeping
alive among men original revelation — the knowledge
of one God, eternal, all-mighty, all-wise, all just and
merciful, the punisher of the wicked, the rewarder
of the just — at the same time proclaimed the Re-
deemer promised to Adam, through Whom the
mercy and goodness of God would go forth to and
from His chosen people to all men and to the limits
of the earth and of time. The prophecies were as
clearly defined as if written after the events which
they predict ; so that Xenophon, describing the deso-
lation of Babylon by the Medes and Persians, seems
only to follow Isaiah and Jeremiah in their predic-

And these prophecies were uttered in spite of the
opposition and malignity of men — unbelieving and
perverse, who disregarded and disbelieved, and
laughed to scorn and persecuted the prophets while
living, and decorated their sepulchres after death,
when their predictions w^ere seen verified. "Woe to
you. Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, who build
the tombs of the prophets, and adorn the monuments
of the just and say: If we had been in the days of
our fathers, we would not have been partakers with
them in the blood of the prophets." — St. Matt, xxiii,
29-30. Hatred, prisons, tortures, death itself was
the lot of the prophets in their day and generation.
"Which of the prophets did not your fathers per-
secute? And they slew those who foretold of the
coming of the Just One, of whom ye have now
been betrayers and murderers," was the cutting re-


buke of the Protomartyr Stephen when stoned to

Such was the preparation which God had made for
the advent of the Messiah His Son into the world. A
score of prophets inspired by the Holy Ghost and
witnesses of the truth received from Him; martyrs
unto blood, their predictions the heritage of a chosen
people into whose consciousness it entered and whose
life it formed; so that they never lost faith in their
ultimate fulfillment, and even to-day after every
manner of suffering and degradation, with the visi-
ble malediction upon them of the blood which they
had imprecated Oii themselves and their children of
Him Whom they still look for. The whole life,
spiritual and natural, of the Jewish people was the
living embodiment and hope of these prophecies.

And when they rejected Him Who was sent, God
dispersed them abroad in every part of the world
and in every time, to bear witness to all men of the
prophecies that He had inspired, and that they might
judge for themselves whether they had been fulfilled,
and upon Whom in history, like so many streams
of light, they converged.

Hence these heaven-inspired predictions are to all,
even to the most unread and ignorant, the ever-
present and visible demonstration of a Messiah to
come, when they were uttered, and Who, as all can
see, has since come. They are a miracle to all —
a miracle recognized by all. As the Gospel was to
be announced to each and every man, it was neces-
sary that it should be proved to each and every man.
No ''sign from heaven" could be more luminous than
this sio^n which is continuallv before us: once he


knows the prophecy, every one can verify its fulfill-
ment; for it is before him. "If but one man had
made such a prophecy,'.' says Paschal, ''it would have
infinite force" ; but it is made bv a score and is
vouched for by a whole nation.


"Ye search the Scriptures, for in them ye think
ye have hfe everlasting; and the same are they
which testify concerning Me." — St. John V; 39.

The Jews are the standing evidence of the truth
of Christianity, the memorial scattered throughout
the earth, which God's providence has erected to
authenticate the mission of His only begotten Son.
He made them His chosen people, and revealed to
them prophecies whose fulfillment is clear proof that
Jesus Christ is the Messiah.

Carefully considered there can be no more certain
seal of divinity than that which the fulfillment of
prophecy presents. To prophecy is of the power of
God ; to fulfill prophecy is the ordering of Divine
providence. To foresee the future one must be
enlightened by God; no human agency can divine
what is yet future. With God there is no future;
all things are present; nothing is past.

Prophecy is a miracle, and it is a miracle in-
telligible to all. Everyone knowing a prophecy can
discern its accomplishment. Contemplating the
prophecies made to the Jews regarding the Messiah,
all can see whether they have been fulfilled in Christ
Jesus, or whether they yet remain to be fulfilled.



On the very day on which our race fell, Almighty
God promised a Redeemer, and that woman fallen
through Satan would yet undo his work and crush
his head, and thus become the instrument of man's
restoration. "I will put enmity between thee and
the woman, and between thy seed and her seed :
she shall crush thy head, and thou wilt lie in wait
for her heel." Gen. III.

Here the Messiah is proclaimed by whom the race
shall be rescued from the bondage of Satan and re-
stored to God. This primitive revelation passed
into tradition; it became a fundamental principle of
all the religions of the world. It is found in all
races and nations, civilized and uncivilized. Chal-
deans, Egyptians, Greeks, Japanese, Chinese and
even our American Indians all bear testimony to
having in some way received this original revelation
of some one to come who should restore alienated
man to his Creator. Philosophers, poets and his-
torians referred to the tradition as found prevalent
everywhere and at all times. Nor was it confined
to the Jewish nation and to those who because of
their proximity, moral or physical, might be believed
to have received it from them. God can speak
through pagan oracle no less than Hebrew prophet ;
the Jewish David and pagan sybil united in pre-
announcing Him who was to come. This belief thus
kept alive, even in paganism, never perished from
the minds, and always found a consoling lodgment
in the hearts of men. With the lapse of ages, and
the fuller and more distinct teachings of the
prophets, it became clearer and more assured.

From the words of God addressed to our first


parents, it is obvious that the Messiah thus solemnly
foreordained can be no ordinary personage, must
be one who will be possessed of more than human
power, indeed nothing short of divine; for nothing
less will be equal to the office assigned Him : of
crushing the head of Satan and restoring har-
monious relations between the Creator and His
creatures. Not only this; but the evil plotted by
Satan is to recoil upon his own head : he is to be
crushed by the new hostility to be placed between
himself and the woman, between his seed and her
seed. It is as obvious as anything can be in the
absence of so many words that the Messiah is to be
divine. Two thousand years later and midway be-
tween Adam and Christ, the same promise is made
to Abraham. In him God establishes a great people
to be the repository of His predictions, the special
instrument of His providence and from which the
Messiah shall be born. He commanded Abraham
to go forth from Canaan into the land that He
would give him. He tried his faith by commanding
him to sacrifice his only begotten son, a child given
to him in his old age from Sarah, also well on in
years, and already barren. Abraham was on the
point of doing what he was commanded when the
Lord appeared to him saying: ^'Because thou hast
done this thing, hold thy hand." In this sacrifice
of Isaac by his father, we find the figure of the
eternal sacrifice of the Messiah, which was to save
the world.

The same promise is renewed to Isaac, son of
Abraham, to Jacob, son of Isaac. Jacob about to
die gathers around him his twelve children, and de-


clares to each one his personal trait or characteristic :
coming to Jiida, he says : Thou art a hon's whelp,
and that the royal power would not pass from him
nor his descendants until the Messiah should come.
"Juda, thee shall thy brethren praise-: thy hand shall
be on the necks of thy enemies : the sons of thy
father shall bow down to thee. Juda is a lion's
whelp: to the prey, my son, thou art gone up: rest-
ing thou hast couched as a lion, and as a lioness ;
who shall rouse him? The sceptre shall not be taken
away from Juda, nor a ruler from his loins till He
come Who is to be sent, and He shall be the expecta-
tion of nations. Or Hebraic, until Schiloh comes
and to him shall be the obedience of peoples."
Gen. XLIX.

Manifest reference is made in these words to the
Messiah. This is obvious from the meaning of the
word Schiloh ; such is also the traditional sense given
to it by the Jewish nation. It is obvious as well
from what is said of Him as the "One who is to be

Jacob in this prophecy declared the period when
the Messiah would come. He would come before
the Jewish monarchy would see its termination ; the
sceptre or power would not pass from the seed of
Jacob until superseded by that which w^as to be
established by Him who was the expectation of
nations ; the Jewish would give away to the Chris-
tian dispensation ; Jacob and his seed would yield
to Jesus Christ. The sceptre passed from Juda
when Jerusalem fell : the Messiah must have come
before that : Jesus Christ was the only one realizing
the expected one ; therefore He was the Messiah.


The Jews had become a mighty people when
Moses led them forth from Egypt into the land near
unto that from which Abraham, their great pro-
genitor, had four hundred years before gone forth.
On their march they were attacked by the Moabites,
who sent for their pagan oracle to curse the children
of Israel ; when the oracle Balaam came before them
he declared that he could not curse those whom God
had blessed, and blessed them three times. Seized
with the spirit of prophecy, and saying that "he
could not go beyond the word of the Lord his God,
to alter anything of his own head, either good or
evil; but whatever the Lord shall say, that he will
speak," exclaimed in prophecy : 'T see him, but not
now : I behold him, but not near. A star shall rise
out of Jacob, and a sceptre shall spring up from
Israel ; and shall strike the chiefs of Moab, and
shall destroy all the children of Seth." Here the
prophet, against his will, possessed of Divine im-
pulse, sees David, the conqueror of those and other
nations, himself being the forerunner and figure of
the Messiah.

Then came the period of the Jewish monarchy-,
the days of David and Solomon. The state had
reached the height of its prosperity and glory. The
psalms composed by David and sung by him are
replete with allusions and predictions of the Mes-
siah. In the second psalm, the Lord of Israel, the
God of heaven is made one with the Messiah. By
this union is declared the Divinity of the Messiah.
"The Lord said to my Lord : Sit thou at my right
hand : until I make thy enemies thy footstool."
Ps. C. IX. Here is evinced the Divinity of the Mes-


siah. It admits Him to the same power and honor
as Deity possesses. 'To which of the angels," asks
St. Paul, "said God at any time: Sit thou on my
right hand ?" And Jesus Himself, quoting ithe
psalm, asked the Jews: "li David then call Him
Lord, how is He his son?" Christ's Divine nature
solves the question, and shows why He shared the
honor of the Father; thus Christ proclaims His
Divinity, and His future success. His enemies being
made His footstool.

David and Solomon believed that their family
would never pass away, that it should possess the
throne of Israel forever; the Lord had declared that
of his family there should be no end on the throne
that He would give him; when they believed that
their power would never end, they must have be-
lieved that it was the Divine Messiah who would be
born of their family : no human generation could
suffice for this.

The psalms present the most affluent testimonies
to the coming and Divinity of the Messiah; His
graces. His appearance. His sufferings, His gifts to
men, their submission to Him, His Kingdom and its
character, its unbounded universality, its immortal
duration. He is declared God : "Thy throne, O God,
is forever and ever : the sceptre of Thy Kingdom is
a sceptre of uprightness. Thou lovest justice and
hatest iniquity; therefore God, Thy God hath
anointed Thee with the oil of gladness above Thy
fellows."— Ps. XLIV. These words the Psalmist
addresses to the Messiah : they evidently declare His
Divinity. St. Paul, quoting the same words, asks,
"For to which of the angels did He (God) ever say :


Thou art My Son, this day have I begotten Thee?
And again : I will be to Him a Father, and He shall
be to Me a Son ? And when He bringeth again the
first begotten into the world, He saith, and let all
angels of God adore Him. . . . But to the
Son : Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever : the
sceptre of Thy Kingdom is a sceptre of right. Thou
hast loved justice and hated iniquity: therefore God,
Thy God hath anointed Thee w^ith the oil of glad-
ness above Thy partners." — Heb. 1. In these words
Christ, because He alone was truly the Son of God,
is exalted above the angels ; His superiority to them
is proclaimed, because they are commanded to adore
Him; by the Apostle applying to Christ the words
of the psalm His Divinity is clearly evinced.

Nine hundred years before Christ, Isaiah, the
greatest of the prophets, in language though pro-
phetic in character, reads in a manner as if historic.
He speaks of the Messiah with a profusion and ex-
actness equalled by none other, and which would
almost lead to believe that he spoke of past events,
although centuries had yet to pass before their oc-
currence. Every circumstance in the career, and
every personal trait of the Messiah is dwelt upon
much after the manner in which we might expect
St. John or St. Paul to have described the character
of Christ. 'Tor a child is born for us ; and a Son
is given to us ; and the government is upon His
shoulder; and His name shall be called Wonderful,
Counsellor, God the Mighty, the Father of the world
to come, the Prince of Peace. His empire
shall be spread abroad, and there shall be
no end of peace. He shall sit upon the


throne of David, and on his Kingdom; to estabhsh
it and strengthen it with judgment and with justice,
from henceforth and forever: the zeal of the Lord
of hosts will perform this/' Isaiah IX. The Jews
always accepted this prophecy as referring to the
Messiah. He is designated the Mighty God, the
Father of the world to come or the everlasting
Father. Such appellations can only belong
or be applied to the eternal God. These
two unparalleled epithets, together with the
others accumulated in this passage, and no
less significant and unequalled, because of their asso-
ciation with the former, manifest the Child, the Son
spoken of as Emmanuel, God with us, in the truest
and most absolute meaning.

David in the psalms, particularly in the 21st, and
Isaiah repeatedly, especially in the 53rd chapter, pro-
claims not only the greatness and glory of the Mes-
siah to come, but also reveals His humiliations, suf-
ferings and death. Not only all this, but they de-
clared that these humiliations and this death would
be the potent divine instruments for the accomplish-
ment of His mission and of drawing to Himself
and gaining the hearts and souls of men, and their
love and homage. The essential variance between a
suffering, dying Redeemer and His insufficiency
according to the measure of men, and one such as
human wisdom would desire or imagine, proclaims
the Divinity of such a Redeemer and the Divine
power upon which He relied.

Daniel, the prophet of the Jews, under the Per-
sian monarchy preannounced that from the issuance
of the decree to rebuild the Temple of Jerusalem



until the coming of Christ, seventy weeks of years,
or 490 years should pass; and that in the middle of
the last week, Christ would be slain, and the people
that were His should know Him no longer. "Sev-
enty weeks are shortened upon thy people, and upon
the Holy City, that transgressions may be finished,
and sin may have an end, and iniquity may be abol-
ished; and everlasting justice may be brought; and
vision and prophecy may be fulfilled : and the holy
of holies may be anointed. Know therefore and
take notice : that f rom. the going forth of the word
to build up Jerusalem again, unto Christ the Prince,
there shall be seven weeks, and sixty-two weeks ; and
the street shall be built again, and the walls in strait-
ness of times. And after sixty-two weeks Christ
shall be slain ; and the people that shall deny Him
shall not be His. And a people with their leader
that shall come, shall destroy the city and the sanc-
tuary; and the end thereof shall be waste; after the
end of the war the appointed desolation. And He
shall confirm the covenant with many, in one week :
and in the half of the week the victim and the sacri-
fice shall fail : and there shall be in the temple the
abomination of desolation : and the desolation shall
continue even to the consummation and to the
end." IX.

Daniel is always exact in fixing the times of the
events which he foresees. But never was the period
of a future event more clearly defined. He is even
mathematical in declaring from where and to when
the coming of the Messiah is restricted. What else
could be the motive of the extraordinary precision :
the seventy weeks being divided into seventy weeks.


sixty-two and one and then this subdivided? The
accuracy of Jeremiah in declaring that the Baby-
lonian Captivity would last seventy years is as near
an approach as can be found to the exactness of
Daniel in this prediction. Besides, it contains all
the prerogatives of the Messiah. The tradition of
the Jewish people and synagogue always referred it
to Him. To prevent the execution of the doom pre-
saged in its words was the animating motive of
those who sought to defend the city against the
Roman arms.

Christ came about the end of the seventy weeks
of years, or 490 years. His public ministry took
place in the end of the sixty-ninth and in the begin-
ning of the seventieth. He was put to death in the
middle of the seventieth. He came at the time when
according to their own calculations the Messiah was
to come. He came before the visitations of Divine
wrath, consequent punishments, denounced by the
prophet were inflicted, which overtook them after
His death and in obedience to His own declaration.
At that time the temple was destroyed, Jerusalem
razed to the ground, sacrifices abolished, prophecy
ceased, the Jews have been scattered.

The prophet Agg^eus with his countrymen felt
humiliated with the abjectness of the second temple
as compared to the grandeur of the first;
he commiserated with them ; but consoles and
encourages them with the assured hope that insig-
nificant as it was in their eyes, yet it would be in-
comparably greater because of the glory to which it
was destined, because it would yet be standing when
He comes who is to be sent, that it shall be filled with


the glory of His power, and therefore, insignificant
in architecture, will be even more majestic than the
first. It was in this temple that Christ was to appear
to perform His priestly office: "Who is left among
you who saw this house in its first glory ? and how
do ye see it now? is it not as nothing in your eyes?
Yet now take courage Zorobabel, saith the Lord,
and take courage O Jesus the son of Josedec the
high priest, and take courage all ye people of the
Lord, saith the Lord of Hosts : and perform, for I
am with you, saith the Lord of Hosts. * * * For
thus saith the Lord of Hosts. Yet one little while
and I will move the heaven, and the earth, and the
sea and the dry land. And I will move all nations :
and the desired of all nations shall come : and I will
fill this house with glory, saith the Lord of Hosts.
The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saith the
Lord of Hosts. Great shall be the glory of this
last house more than the first, saith the Lord of
Hosts : and in this place I will give peace. * * *
AggDeus n.

To this may be added the prediction of Malachi
HI : "Behold I send my messenger, and he shall
prepare the way before My face. And presently the
Lord whom ye seek, and the messenger of the
covenant whom ye desire, shall come to His temple.
Behold He cometh, saith the Lord of Hosts."

Who is this "desired of all nations" ; "this Lord
whom the Jews sought" ; "this angel of the coven-
ant," whose coming will move heaven and earth,
whose presence will render the second temple inex-
pressibly more glorious than the first — who can it
be but the Messiah, the Redeemer of Israel and man-


When is He to come? It declares explicitly —
while the second temple is yet standing; it was not
to be destroyed before He would have come. It is
now two thousand years since that temple was de-
stroyed in the siege of Jerusalem. Therefore, ac-
cording to the prophecy the Messiah must have
long since come, and no other Messiah can ever
come. It was fulfilled when Jerusalem fell, and the
Jews then fought to hinder the fulfillment of the
prediction. The temple yet stood in the days of
Jesus ; in it He was presented by His mother ; it was
from it that He drove the money-changers; it was
the scene of His preaching, and the performance of
His priestly duties. It was from Him that the glory
came that was revealed to the prophet, and the vision
of which animated the prophet and his countrymen
to courage and sustained hope.

Every characteristic and circumstance that was
foretold of the Messiah was verified in the character,
life and death of Jesus Christ. The time of His
advent, His descent, family, mother, place of birth,
poor and humble life, the miracles that He should
work, the details of His passion, the manner of His
death, no less than the ofiices w^hich He was to dis-
charge. His self-imposed death. His voluntary suf-
ferings, the blamelessness and innocence of His life,
that He would die because of His assertion of His
Godhead ; that he would be challenged to come down
from the cross ; the unjust sentence passed upon by
the Jews; its savage execution — His whole life and
death was the fulfillment of what the prophets had
foretold, as it was the verification of His declara-


Daniel, as we have seen, had declared diat the
Jews would be scattered. Isaias had announced

Online LibraryJohn McQuirkSermons and discourses (Volume 3) → online text (page 17 of 43)