Robert Holmes.

On the prophecies and testimony of John the Baptist, and the parallel prophecies of Jesus Christ : eight sermons preached before the University of Oxford, in the year 1782 .. online

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Bampton lectures



On the Prophecies and Teftimony of John the
Eaptifl, and the parallel Prophecies of Jefus Chrift,






At the LECTURE founded by the


Rev. JOHN B A M P T O N, M. A.

late canon of SALISBURY.




printed for D. PRINCE AND J. COOKE, AND J, P, AND





ViccCan. Ox on.
'June 19. 17^2,









ExtraSi from the lafi Will and Tejla^
ment of the late Reverend JOHN
BAMPTON, Canon of Salifbury.

I give and bequeath my Lands

^^ and Eftates to the Chancellor, Mafters,
** and Scholars of the Univerfity of Oxford
" for ever, to have and to hold all and fin-
** gular the faid Lands or Eflates upon truft,

** and to the iiitcnty uuJ purpofca herein after-
" mentioned j that is to fay, I will and ap-
" point, that the Vice Chancellor of the
*' Univerfity of Oxford for the time being
** ihall take and receive all the rents, iffues,
** and profits thereof, and (after all taxes,
" reparations, and necefTary dedud:ions made)
*' that he pay all the remainder to the en-
** dowment of eight Divinity Lecfture Ser-^
** mons, to be eflablifhed for ever in the faid
** Univerfity, and to be performed In the
** manner following :

** I direcft and appoint, that, upon the firft
** Tuefday in Eafher Term, a Ledurer be
** yearly chofen by the Heads of Colleges
" only, and by no others, in the room ad-
«* joining to the Printing-Houfe, between
a 3 the

"* the hours of ten in the morning and two
«* in the afternoon, to preach eight Divinity
** Ledlure Sermons, the year following, at
" St. Mary's in Oxford, between the com-
*' mencement of the laft month in Lent
<* Term, and the end of the third week in
** Adt Term.

" Alfo I direct and appoint, that the eight
" Divinity Ledure Sermons fhall be preach-
** ed upon either of the following fubjecfts
«« — to confirm and eftablifh the Chriftian
** Faith, and to confute all heretics and fchif-
*' matics — upon the divine authority of the
*' Holy Scriptures — upon the authority of
** the writings of the primitive Fathers, as
<* to the faith and practice of the primitive
*' Church — upon the Divinity of our Lord
*' and Saviour Jefus Chrifl — upon the Divi-
*' nity of the Holy Ghofi: — upon the Articles
** of the Chriftian Faith, as comprehended
** in the Apoflles' and Nicene Creeds.

** Alfo I diredl, that thirty copies of thq
'* eight Divinity Led;ure Sermons fhall be
" always printed, within two months after
** they are preached, and one copy fliall be
** given to the Chancellor of the Univerfity,

«* and

'' and one copy to the Head of every Col-
** lege, and one copy to the Mayor of the
** City of Oxford, and one copy to be put
** into the Bodleian Library ; and the ex-
** pence of printing them fhall be paid out
" of the revenue of the Lands or Eftates
'* given for eftablifhing the Divinity Lefture
** Sermons ; and the Preacher fhall not be
" paid, nor be entitled to the revenue, before
** they are printed.

*' Alfo I direcft and appoint, that no perfon
'* fhall be qualified to preach the Divinity
** Ledture Sermons, unlefs he hath taken the
:* Degree of Mafter of Arts at leafl, in one
** of the Vnq Univerfities of Oxford or Cam-
** bridge j and that the fame perfon fhall
** never preach the Divinity Lediure Sermons
" twice."




HI. 3, 4,

^he word of the Lord came mito John, the Son
of Zacharias, in the wilder nefs ; and he came
into all the country about Jordan, preaching
the Baptifm of Repentance.

General defign, pag. 6. ^Subftance of the firft difcourfe,

ibid. — — I. The Jews admitted that John was a prophet, 7.
— — the account, given of him by Jofephus, correfpondent

to that by the Evangelifts, 8. • John called a prophet by

Jofippon, 9. believed to be a prophet, without any view

to the Mefliah, ib. — this Ihewn from the Gofpels, and Afts of

the Apoftles, ibid.- II. upon what evidence the prophetical

character of John could be acknowledged, without conneding

him with the Meffiah, 10. i. thp outward appearances of

a prophetical charafter in John, ibid. 2. his minillry of

Baptifm, and his call to Repentance, ibid. 3. the unl

verfal expedation of the Meffiah, 13.—— 4. miraculous cir-
cumftances attending the conception and infancy of John, ib.
■■ ■ from all thefe circumllances, arofe a juft prefumption,
tut not a certainty, that John was a prophet,! 5. — III. the true
criterion of his infpiration,i6. it was prophecy, with near-
ly prefent accompliihment, 19. illuftration of this point,

?o. ■ the connedion, between the Eaptill and the Meffiah,

fieceflary, 21. John, not a prophet, unlefs he was the

lyieffiah's forerunner, laft page.



Matth. iii. 5, 6.

T^hen went out to him yerufakm, and all
Judcea, and all the region round about Jor^
dany and were baptized of him in Jordan,
confejjing their Jins,

John, fent to prepare the way of the Lord, pag. 24. — —
to be fhewn partly in this difcourfe, from the baptifmal doc-
trine, as it refpedled the kingdom of heaven, and the Jewifh
people, ibid. import of the notice, the kingdom of hea-
ven is at hand, 25. — Jewifh notions of that kingdom, ib.
the true notion of it implied in John's preaching the baptifm

of repentance, 27. a caution attributed to the Baptill

by Jofephus, with refpeft to his baptifm, 29. — — • the mi-
niftry of the Baptill proceeded upon principles, exclufive of

the Law, and entirely Evangelical, 32. hence he appears

an original prophet, 33. — — particular view of the claufes in
the baptifmal doftrine of John. 34. — — he predicted the de-

ftrudlion of Ifrael, 36. the original circumftances, in this

prophecy, fliewed him a real prophet, 37. — — he predidled
the rejedion of Ifrael, and the call of the Gentiles, 38. ■■
hence alfo he appeared an original prophet, 41.' his bap-

tifmal doftrine levelled againft the Jewilh corruptions of the

Scripture-fenfe, 43. he taught that the Mefliah's kingdom,

the true righteoufnefs, the promife, and the genuine fonlhip

to Abraham, were all fpiritual, 44. inference, that he was

a real prophet, to the end.


Mark i. 7.

There cometh One^ Mightier than /, after me.




Further view of the baptifmal doftrine, viz. as it related
direftly to the Melhah, pag. 48. the baptifmal doc-
trine, as it ftands in the text of Saint Matthew, refumed,
49. • the attribute of power, afcribed to the Meffiah,

by the Baptift, 50. that of baptizing with the Holy

Ghoft, ibid. ■ that of tranfcendcnt dignity, 51. .

John afcribed thefe attributes to the Mefliah, by divine

revelation vouchfafed to himfelf, 52. evidences of

this, from his additions to the prophecies relating to the per-

fon of the Mefliah, 53. the Baptift rcprefents the Melliah

as the judge of all the world, 58. fummary view of the

baptifmal doftrijie, 63. Ihewn to have been delivered,

while the Meffiah remained unknown to the Eaptiil, 64. ■

the words, 'f 1 knew him not," confidered, 66, to the end,


John i. 6, 7.

^here was a 7nan, fent from God, whofe nafue
was 'John — the fame came for a wiinefs —

Of the teftimonies of John, after he knew, who was the

Meffiah, 74, of the baptifm of Jefus by him, ibid.

upon this John ceafed to be fimply the forerunner, and be-
came a witnefs, 75. the affertion, *' I knew him not,"

may be extended, as far as this interview, but not beyond it,

ibid. the Meffiah notified to the Baptift by immediate

revelation, 76. inftances fimilar to this, ibid. proofs

in the condufl of John, at Jordan, that he knew Jefus was the
Meffiah, 77. — fome particulars, not revealed to the Baptift, be-
fore this interview, 79. obfervations, on this tranfaftion,

purfued, 80. the clefcent of the Spirit upon Jefus, 81.

— — the Voice of the Father from heaven, 82. The firfi;

tellimony of John, after his baptizing Jefus, This was he, kc.
and obfervations upon it, 84.-— — rhe attribute of precxiftence

row firft affigned, Z^. appears grounded on the direft

interpretation of the title. Son of God, ibid. Deputation

of priefts and Levites to John, and the extent and import of

his anfwer to their enquiries, 87. Jefus, returned from

jhe temptation, prefcnts himfelf agai.". to John, S9, ob-



fervations on the chara£ler, Lamb of God, then applied to

him by the Baptift, ibid. illuftration of John i. 30, and

the fubfequent verfes, g2, • inferences from the preceding

obfervations, pag. 98.


John i. 7.

T! he fame came for a witnefs, to bear wltnefs of
the light, that all men through him might

Illuflrations of the doftrine of John, as a witnefs,
continued, 99. ■ on the chara^ler. Son of God, 100,

■ in what fenfe John applied it to Jefus, loi. ■

the capital teftimony of the Baptift, John iii. 26, &c. confi-

dered, ib. the whole charafter of the Mefliah difplayed

by the Baptift in this teftimony, in more magnificent terms,
than he had employed before, 107. ■ they were confonant

to the fenfe of ancient Scripture, but unknown in Ifrael, 108.

> ■ fome of thefe charatlers imply in what fenfe he applied

the title. Son of G:d, ibid. — — fummary view of the whole

miniftry of John hitherto, 109. confidered as a witnefs,

in his imprifonment, 1 1 1 . • his fending the difciples to

Jefus illuftrated, 112. — ^—concluding inference that John
was Elias, 121.


John xiii. 19,

Now I tell you, before it come, that when it is
come to pafs, ye may believe that I am He.

The completion of the prophecy of John, as Forerunner, and
of his teftimony, as a Witnefs, to be ihewn, from prophecies



of Jefus, either [relating to charaflers afcribed to him by

John, or parallel to prophecies of the Baptift, 124.

prophecies, to be confidtred in this difcourfe, relate
to charafters, which John had afligned, ibid. — — ift Cha-
rafter, the attribute of po\ver to the Meffiah, " he that Com-
eth after me is mightier than I." 125. refleftions on the

reality of the miracles of Jefus, ibid. view of his miracles,

as admitting a prophetical application, or giving him imme-
diate occafion to deliver prophecies, i 29.- inferences from

the foregoing obfervations, 134. II. The charader, Lamb

of God, and the prophecies of Jefus, relating to it, ib.

predifts his paflion, and its circumftances, 135. ■ moft of
thefe prophecies original, 136.' • inferences from the fore-
going obfervations, 142. III, The charadler Son of God,

and the prophecy of his refurreflion, that related to it, 144.

• original circumftances in that prophecy, 145. from

thefe, Jefus appeared a prophet, 146. his promife to

rife again by his own power fhews him more than a prophet,

ibid. •^— ill uftration of that promife, 147. inference

from foregoing obfervations, 149. — IV. The prophecy which
Jefus gave of his own afcenfion, juftifies the teftimony of John,

that he came from above, 150. original circumftance, in

that prophecy, ibid. general inference from the fabftance

of this difcourfe, 152.


John xiii. 19.

Now I tellyouy before it come, that when it is
come to pafs, ye may believe that I am He.

Of the prophecies of Jefus, that were parallel to thofe of

John, I. Chrift fpoke of the reftoration of the Holy

Spirit, in the terms both of a prophecy and a promife, 154.
•— — he reprefented the Holy Spirit, as another divine
agent in the work of redemption, 155. — — inferences from

the parting addrefs of Jefus to the difciples, ibid. of the

terms, in which Jefus repeated the fame prophecy, after his
refurreftion, 157. — — parallel to the prophecy delivered by



John, " he fhall baptize you." &c. ibid. sad to the lan-
guage of the ancient prophets, yet original in Jefus, 158.

inferences from the foregoing remarks on this prophecy, i jg.
II. The prophecy of Jefus, of the converfion of the Gen-
tiles, parallel to the prophetical admonition of John, " think

not to fay within yourfelves, &c." 161. this prophecy

original in Jefus, 163. • fhewn firft, from comparing his

conduft, as a teacher ot Ifrael, with his prediction that the
Gentiles Ihould be converted, 164.— — 2dly, from his words,
*• Thou art Peter, and upon this rock, 1 will build my
church ;■" ** and, I will give unto thee the keys of the king-
dom of heaven,'' 172. III. The prophecy of Jefus, of the

deftruftion of Ifrael, parallel to the prophecy of John, " now

the axe is laid unto the root of the trees," 176. and to

thofe of ancient prophets, ibid. — — yet fhewn original in
Chrift, from fome new circumftances, which he interwove

with the prediction, 177. i. the completion of it limited

to a particular generation, and period of time, ibid. 2.

prophetical hiftory of the period between the delivery and the

accompliihment of the prophecy, 178. 3. That his eleft

Ihould be then the objeds of divine proteftion, 179, . 4.

the captivity of the Jews in all nations, and the prefent ftate
of Jerufalem, predicted, and the captivity of the one, and the
defolation of the other, limited to a particular period, i 80.—
Jewilli imprecation, " his blood be on us, and on our chil-
dren," thus literally fulfilled, 181. — this firft ad of
our Lord's judgement upon Ifraei, prefigures his laft univerfal
one over the world, 182.— —both called in Scripture his

coming, ibid. Jefus, in the fame prophecy. (Matth. xxiv.)

and the Baptift, in the claufe, " whofe fan is in his hand,
&c," fpeak primarily of the judgement of Ifrael, and ulti-
mately of the judgement of the world, 183. other pro-
phecies by Jefus of his univerfal judgement, 184. — — infe-
rences from the fubllance of this difcourfe, ibid.


John xiii. 19.

Now I tell yotif before it come, that whe?i it is
come to pafs, ye may believe that I am be»



Of the prophecy, which Jefus delivered, of the prevalence

of his Gofpel, 187. the old prophets, the Baptift, and

Jefus himfelf, prophetically charafterized the unpromifing

rife, but final fulnefs of the Meffiah's kingdom, 188. .

the prevalence of the Gofpel, proves Chrift a prophet; but as
it mull be afcribed only to his own accomplilhment of his
promifes, it proves him, more than a prophet, 189, &c. ■ «
I. The Apodles, on Chrill's leaving them, had not fufiicient

knowledge for their office, 191. . nor fufficient fortitude,

ibid. fq. -Jefus foretold their fufferings and violent death,

191.—— reflexion on this prophecy, 193.— — notwithlland-
ing their deficiencies, the Apoftles adlually entered on their
miniftry, within a few days after their Lord's departure, 194.
— — hence neceflarily concluded, that their deficiencies were

previoufly remedied, 195. not by their own natural

powers, ibid.' but by the coming of the Holy Ghoft upon

them, 196. He brought the Gofpel down from heaven,

1 99. the Apoftles flood in need of further illumination

afterwards, ibid. II. The continuance of the Law, ano-
ther obftacle, 200. effeds of it on the minds of the Jews,

ibid. promife of Jefus to remove this obftacle, 202. ■

fulfilled in the fall of Jerufalem and the temple, and in the
difperfion of the Jews, 203. Jefus marked this accom-
plilhment of his denunciation of woe to Ifrael,as immediately
leading to the general eftablifhment of his Gofpel, 206. — under
Hadrian, the Jews endeavoured, in vain, to recover their holy
place, ibid. ■ Julian endeavoured, in vain, to rebuild it,
207. -— — III. Satan's kingdom another obftacle to the efta-
blifhment of the kingdom of Jefus, 208. ■ • he gave his

difciples power, and promifed them fupport from himfelf,

againft this enemy, 209. inferences from the fubftance of

this difcourfe, 210. General conclufions from all the dif-

courfes, 202. — — prophecies of Jefus afcribable only to the
divine Spirit ; and the exaft accompliftiment of them, as they
ftand in the Gofpels, afcribable only to the divine power,
216. • conclufion, that God fet his feal upon the Gofpel,

both as it was preached by Jefus, and as it was publilhed in
writing by the Evangelifts,

N I.

l!he word of the Lord came unto yobn, the Son
of Zacharias, in the nsjildernefs y and he came
into all the country about Jordan, preaching
the Baptifm of Repentance.

■^. H E hiilory of Chrift was admirably
adapted to give, the moft clear and
venerable reprefentation of Chriftia-
nlty, and, at the fame time, an obvious and
frequent * demonftration of its truth. For, as
the fyftem of duty, contained in his moral
and religious difcourfes, was in him vifibly
exemplified ; fo alfo, a confiderable part of
the evidence, that he came from God, arifes
from the feveral a<5ts and incidents of his
publick life. There are two queftions, that

^ An anfvver is given to the inquiry, why Chriftianity was
delivered, in the hiftory of our Saviour, in preference to any
other form, in a Commencement Sermon, Jeffcry's Trai^ts.
Vol. ii. at the end,

A , have

2 S E R M O N I.

have immediate reference to them ; the one,
concerning their real exigence, and the other,
refpedling the proofs, which they afford of a
divine atteftation.

It may be obferved, as to the reality of
thofe fads, in the life of Chrift, upon which
his Religion is founded, that the teflimony
of friends and adverfaries, has enabled us to
trace the profeffion of Chriftianity, through
all the intermediate ages, from our own
times ^ till it began. During that long in-
terval, it will be found invariably dillinguilli-
ed, with the obfervance of the fame ilated
day of worihip, and with the ufe of particular
Sacraments, either in exprefs memorial of
different a(5ls in the life of Chrift, or in pur-
fuance of his poUtive inftitution.

This '^ uninterrupted continuance of the
Chriftian profeffion, accompanied with thefe
characfteriftical obfervances, in all conjunctures
of things, and againft all obftacles, through
the feveral ages, between the prefent time and
that of Tiberius, evidently implies, that, in

** The prevalence of it, in Trajan's time, is attcfted by
Plin. Ep. 97. Lib. 10. See alio Daubuz pro teJlimonio Jofephi.
— ^Tacit. Annal. Lib. 15. cap. 44. — Sueton. Claud, cap. 25.—
Julian, apud Cyrill. Lib. 6.

*= This argument is drawn out at large by Dr. Campbell in
his Authenticity of the Gofpel Hiilory.


S ii K M O 1ST I.


his days, fuch perfons iirfl appeared as tho
difclples of Chrifl, and publickly aflerted,
that they heard the dodlrines, and beheld
the fads, upon which he founded, and
* commiffioned them to advance, the Chrif-
tian Rehgion.

By •''their hands, or under the immediate
diredion and revifal of fome in their number,
written hiflories were drawn up, and were
received and ufed by the refl, as true narra-
tives of what they had all heard and feen,
during their intercourfe with Chrift. — So far
as to the real exiflence of the fads, upon
which Chriiliianity depends.

That the Gofpels, extant at this day, are
the genuine hiflories, which thefe witneiTes,
immediately converfant with Jefus, either
penned or approved, may be grounded, not
only upon the teflimony of heathen adverfa-
ries, and Chriflian apologias, in every age,
but alfo, as a celebrated ' writer obferves,
*' upon the general reception and credit,
which they found, not only in all the
churches, but with all the private Chrif-
tians of thofe ages, who were able to pur-
chafe copies of them ; among whom,

'^ This is admitted by Tulian, apud Cyrill. Lib. 9. zqi.
* See Le Clerc's 3d. Differt. iubjoined to his Evang. Harm,
" Middleton. Free Inquiry, 410. Ed. p. 155.

A 2 though

^ S E i<^ M O N I.

though it might perhaps be the defire of a
few to corrupt, yet it was the common
intereft of all, to preferve, and of none, to
deftroy them. And we find accordingly,
that they were guarded by all with the
flrideft care, fo as to be concealed from
the knowledge and fearch of their heathen
adverfaries, who alone were defirous to ex-
tirpate them. After fuch a publication
therefore, and wide difperfion of them from
their very origin, it is hardly pofiible, that
they fhould either be corrupted, or fupprefled,
or counterfeited, by a few, of what character
or abilities foever -, or that, according to the
natural courfe of things, they fhould not be
handed down from age to age, in the fame
manner, with the works of all the other
ancient writers of Greece and Rome ; which,
though tranfmitted through the hands of
many profligate and faithlefs generations of
men, yet have fufFered no diminution of their
credit on that account 5 for though in every
age there were feveral perhaps, who, from
crafty and felfifh motives, might be difpof-
ed to deprave, or even to fupprefs, fome
particular books, yet their malice could
reach only to a few copies, and would be
retrained therefore from the attempt, or



correded at leaft after the attempt, by the
greater number of the fame books, which
were out of their reach, and remained flill
incorrupt. But befides all this, there were
fome circumftances, peculiar to the books of
the New Teftament, which enfured the pre-
fervation of them more effedually, than of
any other ancient books whatfocver ; the
divinity of their charader, and the religious
regard, which was paid to them by all the
fe6ls and parties of Chriftians -, and above all,
the mutual jealoufies of thofe very parties,
which were perpetually watching over each
other, left any of them fhould corrupt the
fources of that pure dod:rine, which they all
profefTed to teach and to deduce from the
fame books — it was not in the power of any
craft, to impofe fpurious pieces, in the room
of thofe genuine ones, which were adlually
depofited in all churches, and preferved, with
the utmoft reverence, in the hands of fo many
private Chriftians."

After thefe preliminary obfervations, to
juftify, in fome meafure, the liberty, that will
be taken, of appealing to the Evangelical
writings, as authentick hiftories of real fadt,
I proceed, in difcharge of the honourable
province alTigned me, to fliew that they con-


tain evidences of a divine atteflation to the
Gofpel, and begin with Hating the drift and
fubftance of the argument, to be purfued in
thefe difcourfes.

The defign is -, to produce and illuftrate,
firft, the prophetical teftimony of John the
Baptift to the Gofpel, and its Author ; and
then, the principal prophecies of Ghrift him-
felf ; and to urge them jointly in fupport of
the divine original of the Chriflian Religion.

This is the general fcheme In view ; the
particular argument of each difcourfe will be
ftated, as it occurs ; — the fequel of this will
be employed to flievv, firft, that the Jews
really admitted the prophetical charadter of
the Baptill -, fecondly, that the evidence, upon
which they admitted it, was only partial and
prefumptive, the complete and decifive proof
of it being entirely difregarded ; and laftly,
to point out from whence the true and con-
cluiive evidence of his divine miffion arofe.

I. With refpecl to the general reception
of John as a prophet, it may be obferved,
that '^Jewifh hillorians attefl: his adminiftration
of baptifm, and appropriate to him that title,
drawn from his office, by which he is dif-

' Jofephus, and Jofeph ben Gorion, or Jofippon. See
Xjardner, JewiAi and Heathen Telliraonies.


S E R M O N I. 7

tinguifhed in the Gofpels, and aflign the
reign of Herod Antipas, as the date, and
the land of Judsa, as the fcene, of his mi-
niftry, and further intimate that a multitude
of Jews received his baptifm.

The teftimony, given by Jofephus in par-
ticular, to the publick minillry and general
veneration of the Baptifl, will have the
greater weight in behalf of the Gofpel, which
began in the baptifm of John, from the
agreement, fubfiiting between the facred wri-
ters and him, in their account, not only of

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Online LibraryRobert HolmesOn the prophecies and testimony of John the Baptist, and the parallel prophecies of Jesus Christ : eight sermons preached before the University of Oxford, in the year 1782 .. → online text (page 1 of 12)