Imagens das páginas

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 accom plishment.

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 idolatryhence 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, 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.

By such a close connection of sowing and reaping-works and their fruits—God did eventually establish his character with the Jews as the rewarder of the righteous, and the punisher of all evil doers.

2. It was also necessary, before the coming the Messiah that man should have time and opportunity for learning his need. Hence a law demanding perfect moral purity, must be given; not that God ever expected man unaided, could keep that law, but the true object of the law was to discover to man his inability to live a life of purity, and hence that he might be driven to some source for aid. The law was not given to make man straight, but to show him where he was crooked, and thus to suggest the importance of dependence upon a higher power than himself. By such means man was impressed with the importance of having some more favorable means for holding intercourse with God.

3. A series of types and shadows must prepare the world for the reception of the Messiah. What was the Messiah to be? Something like him must first appear, or else human language could not reveal him to the conceptions of men. First, must come the shadow, and afterwards the substance. Like Adam, he must be the head of the human race-like Moses, he must lead his people from the spiritual Egypt-like Joshua, he must conduct his followers into the spiritual Canaan-like David, he must be a king-like the Jewish High-priest, he must offer a sacrifice for the people-like the manna, he must be the bread of God that cometh down from heaven-like the waters that gushed from the smitten rock, he must give the water of life-like the brazen serpent, he must be held up as an

object of faith to deliver from the poison of the old serpent, the devil-and like the Paschal Lamb, his blood must secure from the vengence of the destroying angel.

Had it not been for the types that preceded, who could have recognized the Saviour at his coming?

5. A series of prophecies must also prepare the way for the Messiah. "The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy." The spiritual meaning of all the prophecies points to, and gives a testimony of Jesus. "To him," we are told, "give all the prophets witness." True, the prophets introduce much that is local and natural, but all is either, introductory to, or figurative of the Messiah, who is the Sun in the firmament of prophecy.

Whenever a prophet attempts a description of anything national, his soul is soon possessed of a heavenly fervor, and he imperceptably slides into a description of something connected with Messiah's reign.

Where a prophet begins a description of his own sorrows or the sorrows of Israel, ere he is aware, he is describing the distresses that fell upon him who was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.

When he celebrates some great deliverance, like emancipation from Babylon, the language arises in fervor, till it cannot be lavished upon any thing short of the spiritual deliverance which was to be accomplished by him, who was to speak deliverance to the captive, and open the door of the prison to those who were bound.

When he refers to the anointing on the coronation of a king, he soon goes into a sublime rhapsody, in relation to the spiritual king, who was to be set on the Holy hill Zion.

[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »