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his heel, wound to death the inferior part of his wonderful person, the body which he shall assume from his mother, and by which he shall be allied to the earth. But his deadly wound shall be fatal to thee; for, showing himself the Prince of life, even with his bruised heel 'he shall bruise thy head,' he shall destroy thee and thy seed. Then shall the woman and her seed possess the gates of their enemies; then shall the curse brought upon the earth by the first Adam, be turned into a blessing by the second; and the world redeemed, instead of being full of cruel habitations, shall become like this forfeited garden." That this is a just exposition of this first prophecy, appears both from what is already come to pass, and from other predictions descriptive of the events foretold to the mystical serpent.
And do not say, sir, that this paraphrase makes too much of Christ; for if " the Son of God was manifested to destroy the works of the devil," 1 John iii, 8, is it not evident, that none can turn " thorns and thistles" into paradisiacal shrubs, anguish into bliss, death into life, and the general curse into a universal blessing, but He who said at first, " Let there be light, and there was light;" and who, when he first acted the part of a righteous Judge, thundered these words in the ears of guilty man, "Cursed is the ground for thy sake, thorns and thistles shall it bring forth to thee: dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return!" For supposing the sun, by withholding his quickening beams, had caused a general winter and a universal night; is it not plain that the only remedy adequate to the greatness of such an evil, would be the return of the solar light?
The second original promise respecting the Messiah was made to Abraham, when he dwelt in Haran, and confirmed upon Mount Moriah, on an occasion which reflects a great light on the sufferings, character, and work of the Messiah. "By myself have I sworn, saith the Lord, [who can swear by no other being than himself,] because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son; that in blessing I will bless thee: thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies, and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed," Gen. xxii, 16, 6ic. St. Paul, alluding to this promise, saith, "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: that the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles, through Jesus Christ. For to Abraham and his seed were the promises [to a universal blessing] made: he [God] saith not, And to seeds, as [if this blessing were to be the desert] of many [of Abraham's children,] but as of one [one of them,] And to thy seed, which is CHRIST," Gal. iii, 13, 16.
Being enlightened by this, and other parallel scriptures, we clearly see that the sense of this promise is as follows:—" O thou father of the faithful, Heaven is pleased with thy steady obedience: thou hast exemplified the holy purpose of God the Father, who will not spare his Son, his only begotten Son; but will deliver him up as a Divine sacrifice for a guilty world: and Isaac hath shadowed out the meek obedience of the Son of God, that heavenly Lamb, which God will provide, that wonderful descendant of thine, who shall be so superior to all his brethren, as eminently to deserve the name of' the Son of God,' according to 'his outgoings from everlasting,' and the name of thy seed, according to the human nature, which he shall assume from thee, by a virgin of thine offspring. It is he whom I peculiarly mean by thy seed. He shall be thine Isaac, thy laughter, and thy joy: by faith 'see his day and be glad,' John viii, 56. Rejoice in him evermore, for he shall be 'the desire of all nations,' and 'the joy of the whole earth:' for through him shall all the families and people be filled with righteousness, peace, and joy; when he shall 'possess the gates of his enemies,' and cause righteousness to cover the earth, as the mighty waters cover the bottom of the sea."
The third prophecy, relative to the Messiah, was uttered by dying Jacob. "Gather yourselves together," said he to his sons, "that I may tell you that which shall befall you in the last days. Judah, thou art he whom thy brethren shall praise: thy father's children shall bow down before thee. Judah is a lion's whelp, he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion: who shall rouse him up? The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come, and unto him shall be the gathering of the nations," Gen. xlix, 8-10.
This ancient prophecy, explained according to the parallel scriptures, amounts to the following prediction:—" Judah my son, as the lion is king among the beasts of the forest, so shall thy tribe be the most honourable, powerful, and warlike in Israel. But thy greatest honour shall arise from David, one of thy descendants, and from the line of kings, who shall spring up from his loins: for they, together with the Levites and priests, who shall adhere to them, shall continue to give princes and rulers to the Israelites, till the Shiloh shall come, who shall sustain four most important offices. (1.) Being typified by Moses and Aaron, two of Levi's grandehildren, he shall be a meek Lawgiver, a powerful Prophet, and a majestic High Priest. (2.) Being represented by David, an invincible captain, and a victorious prince, whose offspring he shall be, he shall subdue or destroy all his enemies, and shall deserve the titles of 'Lion of the tribe of Judah,' and 'Captain of our salvation.' And (3.) Being shadowed out by Solomon, another of his ancestors, a peaceful and prosperous king, who by his wisdom and power shall secure the admiration and respect of all the east, he shall show himself the Shiloh, the mighty Redeemer, promised to our fathers; for he shall redeem Israel from all his sins, and from all his troubles. Nor will he confine his royal benefits to our posterity. For when he shall have finished his work as lawgiver and prophet; when he shall have been persecuted by his brethren as Abel; when he shall have been offered for us, and restored back to us as Isaac, his law shall be preached to distant nations, and he shall long remain as a couching lion: but he shall at last be roused up by the groans of his oppressed people, and by the crying sins of all mankind. Then 'shall his hand be on the neck of his enemies;' then shall he do his strange work as 'the lion of Judah's tribe:' but soon coming up from the slaughter, as Abraham from the defeat of the five kings, he shall show himself, not only the promised bruiser of the serpent's seed, but the Prince of Peace, both for our posterity and for all mankind; for 'all the families of the earth shall be blessed through him, and unto him shall the gathering of the nations be; the fulness of the Gentiles coming in,' after the Jews, to enjoy the
blessings of his holy, peaceful, and prosperous reign. And then shall be fulfilled another prophecy: 'His righteous dominion shall be from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the earth.' I say his righteous dominion, for when ' the kingdoms of this world' shall become the happy provinces of his kingdom, righteousness shall cover the earth: 'The whole earth shall be filled with his glory,' and all his subjects shall sing, 'Blessed be [Emmanuel] the Lord God, the God of Israel, who only doth wondrous things: and blessed be his glorious name for ever! Amen, and Amen!'" Psalm burii, 8, 20.
You will see, sir, that this sense of Jacob's prophecy is confirmed by the prophecies of the other men of God; all the other oracles respecting the same subject being only confirmations and explanations of the three original promises handed to us by Moses. He hath so clearly described the Messiah, by the Divine works appointed for him, that to prove Christ's divinity, by the concurrent testimony of all the prophets, I need only prove that they unanimously declare, that the wonderful person, who shall reverse the curse, bruise the serpent's head, destroy the wicked, possess the gate of his enemies, unto whom all people shall be gathered, and in whom all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, is a person truly Divine, even Jehovah, the Son, or "Emmanuel, God manifest in the flesh," to be both the "King of the Jews," the "Saviour of the world," and the "King of the princes of the earth."
Orjection. You will probably say, sir, that "Moses himself overturns the sense, which I put upon the three original promises recorded by him, with respect to the Messiah; and that when Moses foretells Christ's coming, he only speaks of him as "of a prophet, like unto himself;" and that if Christ were a prophet "like unto Moses," so sure as Moses was a man only, the Messiah was a mere man."
ANSWER. We grant that Christ, as " Son of man," is like Moses, in several respects. Was the son of Amram saved in his infancy from the cruelty of a jealous tyrant, who had doomed him to die with a multitude of other children? So was the son of Mary. Was Moses the lawgiver of the Jews? So is Christ the legislator of the Christians. Was Moses remarkable for his meekness? So was he who says, "Learn of me, for I am meek in heart." Both being appointed as mediating prophets, stood in the gap to turn away the wrath of Heaven from a guilty people. Both, as shepherds of the Lord, led his straying sheep through a wilderness to a delightful land. Did Moses smite Pharaoh, king of Egypt, Sihon, king of the Amorites, and Og, king of Bashan? So will Christ "wound kings in the day of his wrath." Did Moses heal the dying Israelites, by lifting up the serpent in the wilderness? So Christ heals believers by being lifted up on the cross. Did Moses fast forty days, and receive the law on Mount Sinai? So did Jesus fast forty days, and deliver his law on a mount of Galilee. Was Moses rejected, and almost stoned by the Israelites? So was Christ by the Jews. Did Moses despise the glory of Egypt, that he might suffer for, and with the people of God? So did our Lord despise all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them, that he might suffer for, and with his people. In a word, is Moses the great prophet of the Old Testament? So is Christ of the New. This was ground sufficient for the comparison which Moses made of Christ with himself.
But, to conclude that because Christ, according to his human nature, was a prophet like unto Moses, he must be a mere man as Moses, is illogical.
Dying Jacob, to express the toil, strength, and patience of Issachar's tribe, says, " Issachar is [like] a strong ass, couching down between two burthens." But must we infer from thence, that Isaachar had long ears, and really carried two panniers as an ass? It is by such injudicious pressing of comparisons, that monstrous doctrines are obtruded upon Christians, and that while some turn Socinians, others become even Materialists.
But although the Scriptures show that there is proper ground for a comparison between Christ and Moses, they take care to keep us from the rock against which you split; for they not only tell us that Christ is "anointed with the oil of gladness above his fellows," but that he is the "chiefest among ten thousand" prophets, priests, and kings; because their divers offices all join in his Divine person. When the Israelites were in the desert, God was their king, Moses their prophet, Aaron their priest, and Joshua their general; but Christ sustains alone all their parts.
I have shown (in letter ii) that under the law, the Logos, or God, manifest sometimes in flames of fire, and sometimes in a human form, was the King of Israel, and Moses was his prime minister: a leading truth this, which Nathanael acknowledged, when discovering our Lord's glory, he cried out, "Rabbi, thou art the Son of God, thou art the King of Israel," John i, 49. As if he had said, Thou art he, whose patience our fathers tried in the desert, and whom they rejected in the days of Samuel, as appears by that prophet's expostulation, "Ye said to me, Nay, but a king shall reign over us, when the Lord your God was your King," 1 Sam. xii, 12. But under the Gospel, when the Logos is continually manifested in the flesh, he sustains both characters; and, in that sense, may be compared to those great monarchs, who, like Frederic, the late king of Prussia, are their own prime ministers.
Hence it is that, although as a prophet, or a minister, Christ is like Moses, yet as Logos, and King of Israel, he is infinitely superior to the Jewish lawgiver. "Consider Jesus Christ," says the apostle, "He was counted worthy of more glory than Moses," on two capital accounts: (1.) Moses was faithful as a "servant in the house of him who had appointed him: but Christ was faithful as a son, over his own house." (2.) "Moses was worthy of glory," inasmuch as he was a fundamental stone in the house of God; but "Christ is worthy of more glory, inasmuch as he who built the house hath more honour than the house," or any part of it: "for every house is built by some man; but he who hath built [the Jewish Church and] all things, is God," Heb. iii, 1, 4. These words, with which I shall conclude this letter, are both a full answer to the objection I consider, and a full proof of our Lord's divinity. I remain, dear sir, &c.
AH the prophets bear witness to the Messiah as the bruiser of the serpent, and the prosperous King reigning in righteousness over the subject nations: in other words, they foretell the days of vengeance, and the days of refreshing which shall succeed them, under his administration.
To open the prophecies relative to the Messiah's glory, we must have a Divine key. I have already shown that Moses gave it us, when he described the Redeemer as the destroyer of the serpent, and as the Shiloh, the prosperous King, who, after having " laid his hands on the neck of his enemies as a lion," shall sway the sceptre of his mercy over the submissive nations, or (to use the prophet's laconic style) "unto whom shall the gathering of the people be," Gen. xlix, 10.
The Messiah's achievements, in this two-fold point of view, were typified by the exploits of David and Solomon, the two first of his royal ancestors. David is long poor, despised by his brethren, and unknown to Israel. When he is anointed king of Israel, he is hated and pursued by a jealous and bloody prince; but he kills the giant who defied the armies of the living God, routs the Philistines, and after having acted the part of the lion of the tribe of Judah, and given the Israelites victory on all sides, he leaves the crown to peaceful Solomon, "unto whom is the gathering of the people," and who "builds the magnificent temple of the Lord," and heaps upon Israel the blessings of a peaceful and prosperous reign.
St. Peter, in his second sermon, preaches the Messiah according to these two displays of his redeeming power. "It shall come to pass (says he) that whosoever will not hear that [royal] Prophet shall be destroyed from among the people. Repent ye, therefore, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord, and he shall send Jesus Christ, who was before preached unto you [under the names of Wonderful, mighty God, Prince of Peace, Emmanuel, &c,] whom the heaven must receive, until the times of the restitution of all things, which God, since the world began, hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets. For all the prophets from Samuel, [who appointed David, the first royal type of the Messiah,] as many as have spoken have foretold these days" of vengeance, in which the Messiah will bruise the serpent and his brood, and these days of refreshing, when the Lord Jesus, having destroyed "those who would not have him reign over them," will give rest to his faithful subjects in all his dominions, which "shall extend unto the ends of the earth." For, adds St. Peter, "God said unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed," Acts iii, 19-25.
As inattention and unbelief have cast a veil over this glorious part of the Gospel, permit me, sir, to remove a corner of this veil, and to show how the prophets have all spoken of the glorious days of the Messiah, and of the days of vengeance, which shall precede them. My dwelling on this point will not be a needless digression, but the very ground on which I shall rest one of my strongest proofs of your error, and of Christ's divinity. I now begin with Samuel, whom St. Peter particularly mentions.