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never have comprehended. The great object of the Old Testament was to introduce Christ to the world, and just as soon as human ideas and language would suffice, he made his appearance upon our world's stage.
5. And finally, such a Saviour, bringing a religion so well attested, is worthy of all acceptation. Sinner, we invite you to accept of one of whom Moses in the law and the PPOPHETS did write. We ask you to come to the true Sun of Righteousness, around whom circles the whole galaxy of types and prophecies. He has come to save his people from their sins. If you will be his, he will save you.
THE ADVENT OF THE MESSIAH, A JOYFUL OCCASION TO
AND IT SHALL BE SAID IN THAT DAY, LO THIS is our God; WE ILAVE WAITED FOR HIM, AND HE WILL SAVE US: THIS IS THE LORD; WE HAVE WAITED FOR HIM, WE WILL BE GLAD AND REJOICE IN HIS SALVATION.—Isaiah 25. 9.
The greatest blessing God ever conferred upon man, is the Gospel. Without it, existence itself would be a curse. The world had waited long for the announcement of salvation through Christ, and when grace and truth finally came, though rejected by the mass, the message was received by some with great joy.
There were those who recognized their promised Messiah, and said,
"this is our God."-" This is our own national and patron Divinity.”—“We have waited for him.”_ " This is THE Lord.”. “He is not only our Lord, but he is the Lord—the God of the whole earth.”_" We will rejoice and be glad in his salvation.”
The theme of our present lecture is—the joyful occasion of the Messiah's Advent. It was an event which in itself was calculated to awaken the deepest interest on the part of the world, and should have been hailed with unprecedented
joy, by every intelligent mortal. This will be seen from the following considerations ::
I. It was the termination of a long and wise course of preparation. It was the dawn of day, after a long and dreary night—a plentiful harvest, after a long season of toil—a glorious jubilee, after a protracted and grievous captivity—a new era in the world's history, when the old was about to vanish away, and all things were to become
1. Before the Messiah could make his appearance, certain preparatory doctrines must be taught to men.
Men must become impressed with the great doctrines of the Divine unity, the Divine spirituality, and human accountability. The fact that there is but one God, though so simple to us, was a difficult lesson for the ancients to learn, and required thousands of years for its full accomplishment.
The first term applied to the Supreme Being in the Bible, Aloheem, is in the plural number, which intimates that men formerly ascribed the events of nature to a plurality of causes; and hence the particularity of the Old Testament in proclaiming the doctrine, that what had been supposed to be distinct causes, was really a unity—“Hear, O Israel; the Lord our God is ONE Lord.” Though, in conformity with the views of the heathen, a name has been applied to him expressive of a plurality of ideas, yet, THE JEHOVAH, OUR GOD, is but ONE.
Never were the Jews fully taught this doctrine till Egypt and Babylon had trampled them down, and they had learned, by woeful experience, that all the God's of the
heathen, were powerless, and that their God alone had strength to deliver in every time of trouble.
The spirituality of the Divine Being was no less difficult to learn. Nature proclaimed to man the existence of some Infinite power, the giver of all good. Thankfulness for favors received was prompted in the hearts of men. But how could they express their thankfulness? Why; the first idea was to give him something-give him breadgive him fine flour mingled with oil-give him the first of all the flocks, and the first of all the fruits of the earthhence came the religion of sacrifices and burnt offerings.
Now, as far as such offerings were a mere expression of grateful emotions, spontaneously gushing forth from the human bosom, all was well; but when men supposed God needed any thing in the shape of food or drink from their hands, these very offerings became a kind of idolatry hence came the dispensation of the prophets to lead man one step higher towards the Divinity. They taught that God must be worshipped, not as though he needed any thing at our hands, for he was a Spirit, and these offerings were of no avail, only as they betokened the inward feeling of the soul, and pointed to something higher than themselves. "To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the Lord. I am full of the burnt-offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats.” Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and the Sabbaths; the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with ; it is iniquity even the solemn meeting.” “ Wash you, make you clean, put away the
evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil."
It was with the view of turning away the mind from mere ceremonial worship, as though God was a material being, who could be profited by burnt offerings, that the prophet Micah asks : “Wherewith shall I come, before the Lord, and bow myself before the high God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old ? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I give my first-born for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul ?" "He hath showed thee, O man, what is good, and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God.” Thus with much difficulty, and after a long time, the doctrine of the Divine spirituality was suitably explained and enforced to the Jewish nation.
Nor was it less difficult to teach the doctrine of human accountability. Ordinarily “sentence against an evil work is not speedily executed.” The reward of the righteous, and the punishment of the wicked often lie far away, and are hidden in the mists of eternity. On this account men, naturally, have but obscure views of their accountability to God.
It was needful, therefore, that one nation should be selected as a model, and that their natural history should be a type of the spiritual history of the race. Accordingly in the Jewish nation, God caused the reward of the good closely to follow their works, filling their barns with plenty, and making their presses to burst forth with new wine; while punishment trod upon the heels of iniquity in the form of blasting and mildew, pestilence and the sword.